Is your dog in pain?
What are the signs?
Is it a muscular injury?
How can I avoid muscular injuries in my dog?
Jackie Crawford of Canine Muscle Works, Australia helps us address these questions below.
Dogs that exercise regularly live longer and are happier. We also need to be wary of over-exercising our dogs. This is especially true for puppies and senior dogs.
Rest days between intense workouts allowing the muscles to recover are essential!
Dogs won’t over-exercise themselves. Us humans usually push them too far, for example by exercising them while bike riding.
Be sensitive to your dog’s behaviour and body language. Watch for signs where your dog is in pain.
What are the signs your dog is in pain?
Most dogs will push themselves for us. They love being with their owners and are eager to please. So we need to be watchful for these signs that our dog is in pain or hurt:
- Excessive panting
- Lagging behind
- Laying down
- Reluctance to go for a walk
- Rolling back muscles indicating muscle fatigue
How do you know when your dog has a muscular injury?
Serious injuries like limps are obvious. To the untrained eye, however, most times signs of muscular injuries are not obvious.
Owners need to train themselves to be observant of their dog’s movement and behaviour. This helps to identify injuries.
Observe your fur buddy daily so you are cognisant when he has an injury. Study your dog stretching, turning, walking, running. This will help you notice subtle signs like tightness, tenderness and restricted movement. Early detection and prompt attention to any muscular injuries are key. This way an injury need not become an issue.
When a dog’s structure is perfectly aligned and muscles are toned, its movement is balanced and graceful. Any muscular injuries will cause a change of gait.
How can you avoid muscular injuries?
Muscular injuries can be unpredictable especially in young dogs who play roughly. To follow, we will only address how you can protect your dog from preventable injuries.
1. Warming up
Preparing the muscles for activity by warming them up will decrease the risk of injury. Warm up exercises include:
- Brisk walking
- Stretching (example – stand on hind legs on a park bench to give the back a good stretch)
- Playing tug (excellent for actively stretching the whole body but BE GENTLE!)
- Backing up
2. Avoid over-exercising your dog
Exercising your dog to the point of muscle fatigue is dangerous.
When the muscles are fatigued, they do not have the strength to hold your dog together as they should. They are at risk of harm from muscle strains as well as ligament and joint damage.
3. Follow a strength and conditioning program
A well-designed strength and conditioning program will strengthen muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons.
Why is this important?
Stronger muscles help hold the body in proper alignment when moving or under impact. A good program will also address weak areas in the body to decrease the risk of injury.
Speak to your veterinary muscle therapist to help you with a programme.
~excerpts from Jackie Crawford of Canine Muscle Works, Australia
Cert. Animal Neuro-Myofascial Release
Cert. Veterinary Thermal Imaging
Cert. Canine Myofunctional Therapy
Cert. Emmett Therapy
Cert. Rocktape Canine Equine course