Injuries happen, but they don’t need to be the end of the world!
Dogs, like humans, get injured. Whether by accident, through sport, training or fun, injuries happen.
There is much that we as handlers and caregivers of dogs can do to prevent or lower the risk of injury.
Some things you can do to prevent injuries:
- Correct preventative conditioning work that is performed early in your dogs sporting career or life
- Finding age-appropriate and safe activities for puppies
- Ensuring that the activities are safe and suitable for your dog’s age, body weight and build
- Making sure your dog doesn’t overdo things
However, as in the human world, even with the best preventions, injuries can still happen.
Things to note in order to prevent injuries:
When working, training or playing with your dog, take note of a few things:
1. Pain Signals
Look out for pain signals that your dog may be giving you. Some examples are behavioural changes (your dog may be a little more grumpy or distant), a reluctance to play or to jump up onto the couch or in the car.
Observe the terrain or floor your dog is on. Slippery surfaces will pose a much higher risk of injury. Running in the rain, training or competing early in the morning while the dew is still on the grass or competing in an agility competition in an unfamiliar surface your dog is not used to (e.g. dirt, astroturf). Our own body changes and adapts to walking or running on different surfaces – consider the difference experienced walking or jogging on a sports field, the city, on a hiking trail or on the beach.
Ensure that you keep your dog at a proper weight. Extra weight means that your dog must work with and experience extra stresses on their joints, tissues and organs.
4. Age-appropriate activity
Make sure that the activity you’re doing is age-appropriate! This cannot be emphasised enough! Puppies, adult, and senior dogs all have different physical abilities and you have to modify activities for those abilities and stages of life.
5. Type of activity
Be mindful and purposefully aware of the TYPE of canine fitness/conditioning you are doing with your dog! How often have you seen a video of a dog performing conditioning work and thought – my dog can do that?
Most online videos show the impressive end result of a specific conditioning exercise. This exercise has been practised many times to produce this wonderful video result, having many layers of progression to produce the exercise as we see it in the video.
When you see a cool video online stop and think. What are you seeing? Is this exercise appropriate and SAFE for your dog? What skills would you need to train this exercise safely? Will it actually promote your end goal in your sport? There are numerous considerations to take in mind.
“I see a lot of dogs with preventable injuries resulting from a workout that a well-meaning owner saw online and tried to do. Remember, just because you saw it online doesn’t mean it’s appropriate and SAFE for your dog.”
– C McIntyre, PT
6. Protect with Supplements
Consider supplements that can help improve overall health and protect your dog’s body. REMEMBER though, that not all supplements are created equal!
For this reason, I enjoy Sashas Blend for complete joint health, Stomax for an optimum microbiome and PlaqueOff for oral health. All these have had their claims proved and I have personally experienced the efficacy and extraordinary benefits of these products.
Know that accidents can and do happen and injuries may result with your dog. We can also do loads to keep these at a minimum and we can minimise the risk and extent of damage and injury.
An injury however does not need to mean the end of the world for your dog! A dog who has had regular conditioning throughout their life prior to injury is in a much better place to manage, rehab and bounce back from an injury!
If you are worried your dog may be dealing with an injury, please consult a veterinary rehab specialist for an assessment. If you are wondering what appropriate exercises will work best for your dog, whether they do sport or you just want to keep him fit and healthy, I am here to help. Contact me at The Biokinetic K-9 and we can talk through some ideas and exercises and proper execution. Your dog will love you for it!
~ Excerpts are taken from McIntyre Rehabilitation: http://www.mcrehabilitation.com/