More and more joggers are selecting four-footed running buddies, which is great for both pet and owner. The companionship and exercise makes for a good combination.

However, some safety tips are required in order to make these runs enjoyable for your dog.

Distance: Just as you probably did not start out running three miles at one time, neither should your animal. Begin gradually, and work the mileage up as your dog becomes accustomed to regular runs, Also, remember that dogs do not have air or gel soles. They run on the pads of their feet, which need gradual conditioning.

Pace: Not every dog can run a six-minute mile, so please don’t drag or force him to run faster than he is physically able. Unlike most humans, pets will literally kill themselves to please and will run despite pain or exhaustion just to be with you.

Body Type: Just as some of us are more suited for certain activities than others, so are dogs. Fat dogs, like fat people, should begin exercising moderately. Tiny dogs can’t keep up with long strides and a fast pace. Dogs with flat faces don’t have the capacity to breathe as well as dogs with longer noses, such as Shepherds, labs and retrievers.

Hot/Humid Weather: Please take extra care when running in these conditions! Dogs cool off primarily through evaporation from their tongues, which is not as efficient as sweating.

Give your dog plenty of water. Do not pass up a drinking fountain because you are not thirsty, or because you are concerned about your time.

You are responsible for your dog’s comfort and making sure he enjoys his running experience. Finally, keep your dog on a leash, so you won’t be doggone sorry!

As I jog through our neighborhoods, I am greeted by many dogs and cats, either in fenced yards or roaming the streets. The East Dallas/Lakewood area is full of animals. Most, I hope, are pets – meaning that some family takes care of them, feeds and shelters them and most of all, loves them.

But I see some animals that I’m not so sure are loved.

For example, with the cold winter months for the most part behind us, I still see dogs with shaggy, ungroomed coats sitting outside looking sad and lonely. Grooming any long-haired animal is critical and part of your responsibility as the caretaker.

If a dog or cat’s hair is not brushed regularly, the mats become very painful to your pet. Every step hurts as the matted hair pulls on its skin.

If you are guilty of non-grooming, please get your pet to a groomer as soon as possible. You’ll need a professional to get your animal back to a comfortable state.

And to avoid this expense, make brushing a daily part of your quality time with your pet.