February 22nd is officially national walking your dog day and if getting more exercise is amongst your 2021 goals, you may have a natural personal trainer right by your side. Dogs can be great motivation to make fitness a part of your daily routine by going for daily walks, which also happens to be a safe and healthy activity during COVID-19.

Front of the Pack, a canine supplement company, has made tracking your progress easy and worthwhile by sponsoring Best Friends Animal Society’s ResQWalk app. Not only can walkers see their mileage, but they can also designate a local shelter or animal welfare organization that raises money for each step. Of course, it’s also important to prepare your four-legged friend for any journey, according to veterinarian and Front of the Pack co-founder Dr. Stephanie Wenban.

“An estimated 66% of dogs across America today suffer from poor joint health. Our dogs are leading longer and more adventurous lives than ever before, so it is important to consider joint health from a young age,” Dr. Wenban said. “There are preventative steps that can help to keep your dog active and mobile throughout his or her life.”

Here are Dr. Wenban’s top five veterinary tips for keeping your dog’s joints healthy:

1. Start young

Over-exercise and feeding a diet that is not balanced for growing puppies can lead to changes in the growth plates and affect joint development. Which in later life will lead to joint disease. Controlled, regular exercise and a good quality puppy diet will set your puppy up for good joint health into the future.

2. Vary exercise

Try to vary the strain your dog’s joints are under by varying their exercise patterns. For example, try to mix it up between soft and hard surfaces regularly. Also try to vary the type of exercise your dog gets, as a daily repetition of certain activities such as chasing a ball can lead to joint problems into the future.

3. Watch their weight

Overweight dogs are around 3 times more likely to experience joint disease, such as arthritis and ruptured cruciate ligaments. Carrying extra weight leads to extra strain on the joints, so one of the best things you can do to help in preventing and alleviating joint disease is to keep your dog trim.

4. Regular veterinarian visits

Veterinarians are trained to spot even the most subtle differences in how your dog moves, so at least twice yearly visits to the vet should be essential. Spotting the early signs of discomfort and starting early treatment can help to delay the progression of joint disease, and keep your dog far more comfortable.

5. Supplements

Glucosamine and Chondroitin can help to preserve the spongy cartilage that provides essential cushioning for joints. Other supplements such as Omega-3 fatty acids and Curcumin can help to balance inflammatory systems within the body and joints. One dog supplement that contains Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Omega-3 fatty acids, and Curcumin is Move by Front Of The Pack.

Say, you don’t have a dog to walk with? If you’re ready to take the step of finding a new best friend, there are thousands of amazing dogs waiting for you to foster or adopt them at a local shelter or rescue. To get started, visit www.bestfriends.org.

Alexis Zarycki is your average girl with the hopes of leaving an everlasting impact on the world. Follow her on Instagram @official_lexpaige