Treadmills may be great for human exercise, but can they be used for dogs as well? If Fido, Spot or Rex wants to walk more than you do, a treadmill might be a suitable solution, but it is important to understand the limitations that treadmill walking presents.
About Dog Treadmills
Dog treadmills may have the same purpose as human exercise equipment – a moving surface for a long, continuous walk – but there are significant differences. Treadmills for dogs typically have raised sides to prevent the dog from getting its feet, tail or coat snagged in the belt or motor, and the speeds are better for a dog's pace. Dog treadmills come in different sizes to be suitable for different breeds and weights, and some have incline adjustments to provide an even better canine workout. Standard platform treadmills are the most common design, but wheel-style treadmills are also available.
Many veterinarians use treadmills for physical therapy or rehabilitation for injured dogs. Treadmills may also be able to help with a weight loss regimen when a dog needs more exercise than its owner can reasonably provide.
Dog treadmills range in price based on size, features and manufacturer. The least expensive treadmills for dogs may be as low as $400-500, while more elaborate models for larger breeds may cost $2,000 or more.
Treadmills at Home
In many cases, dog treadmills should not take the place of real, outdoor walks that include new scents, sounds and sights for a dog to explore. There are cases where a treadmill might be appropriate for home use, however, including…
- Helping overly energetic pets work off excess energy when even lengthy walks or other exercise techniques are not sufficient.
- Providing exercise for breeds that may not be adapted to extreme climates, such as heavy-coated dogs in high heat or humidity, or small, thin-coated dogs in severe cold.
- Helping owners with limited time or mobility concerns provide adequate exercise for their dogs without having to get rid of their pets.
It is important to consult with a veterinarian before getting started with a dog treadmill, and it may be better to pursue alternative walking methods such as visiting a dog park, hiring a dog walker or investigating doggy day care centers before committing to a treadmill. Used properly, however, treadmills can be a great tool for dog owners to use to keep their pets happy and healthy.