Protect Your Growing Puppies Joints: Growth Plates

Large breed puppies are prone to developing damage to their growth plates if they participate in certain exercises before they have fully matured.

It is important for dog owners to be aware of these dangers and take steps to keep their puppy safe. In this blog post, we will discuss the exercises that you should avoid and provide tips on how to keep your large breed puppy healthy and safe.

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Dr. Sarah Wooten says, "while puppies are growing they have open growth plates. While they are growing it's very important that they do not exercise excessively on these very fragile growth plates. We want them to have nice, healthy growth plates."

What does that mean? Here are Dr. Wootens tips:

  1. Letting your dog run on soft surfaces. Ideally, we want our puppies running on soft surfaces like grass, dirt, mud or sand, until they're full grown. That way they're not pounding on concrete which can be very hard on their little bodies.
  2. Do not take your puppy jogging with you. Jogging requires your puppy to keep up with your pace and can put too much strain on their still-developing joints and bones. As a rule of thumb, their exercise should always be within THEIR control, and they should be able to stop and lay down or take a break whenever they need to.
  3. Be careful with stairs. Stairs are hard on a puppy's little legs and joints. If you must take your puppy up or down stairs, carry them or help them up and down each step.
  4. Do not allow your puppy to jump off of furniture or jump in and out of the car. These activities can put too much strain on their joints and bones and can cause serious injury.
  5. No long hikes or mountain climbing. Just like with jogging, these activities require your puppy to keep up with you and can be too much for their little bodies. Long, uphill climbs can be too intense and cause damage to their growth plates.


It is always best to keep their exercise easy and within your puppies control until they are done growing.

Should your growing large breed puppy avoid exercise at all?

No, definitely not! Your large breed puppy needs exercise! Just be mindful of the type and intensity of exercise to avoid any damage to their growth plates.


Here are some tips for safe and healthy exercise for your large breed puppy:

  1. Start with short walks and gradually increase the length as they grow.
  2. Make sure they have a chance to rest in between bouts of exercise.
  3. Choose low impact exercises that are healthy for joint development and growth.
  4. Swimming is an excellent choice of exercise for a large breed puppy as it is easy on the joints and muscles.
  5. Be sure to monitor your puppy closely during exercise and always listen to their body. If they seem tired or are struggling, take a break or end the session early.
  6. Remember, you know your puppy best! If you have any concerns about their health or feel uncomfortable at all, make sure to seek out a Veterinarians opinion. 


If you follow these simple tips, you can help ensure that your large breed puppy will have a healthy start to life and avoid any unnecessary injuries. Thanks for reading! Dr. Sarah Wooten is a veterinarian and advocate for large breed dog's health.


What are your thoughts on large breed puppy exercise? Share your tips in the comments below!

Do you have a large breed puppy? What kind of exercise do they enjoy? We'd love to hear!

For additional information about canine health, check out Dr. Wooten's work at the Big Barker Hip Dysplasia Webinar.


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