Dogs With Sports Injuries

Helping your dog recover.

By | Posted: Thu Jul 29 00:00:00 PDT 2004

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Preventing Disk Problems
What can you do to prevent disk problems? Two things: thoroughly condition the dog before the event, building good muscle strength; and then warm the dog up thoroughly before any running, jumping, twisting, and especially any drops from a height onto his front feet. Tiger's ravine was three times the height of an agility A-frame, but the principle is the same. Remember that shocks that travel up the front legs are transmitted to the spine. And once a disk has been injured, it is subject to re-injury.

Warming up a dog by walking or running with him before an event forces blood into his muscles. Body-builders call this "pumping up." The muscles actually get plumper with the increased blood flow. Another Greyhound enthusiast and I first met lure coursing Sheba, Sunny, and Tiger, and spent a year attending lure courses together. Afterwards, when we met at places other than lure courses, her Sheba and my Sunny would automatically pump up in anticipation of getting to run. Just the sight of their competition would cause their cardio-vascular system to get ready to run. We would be talking, and look down, and find that Sheba and Sunny suddenly had nice full back muscles.

The hardest lesson I learned about the value of warming up a dog happened with Trip. She loved obedience, and I planned for her to earn the old Dog World award that required that a dog complete its Companion Dog, Com-panion Dog Excellent, and Utility Dog titles in nine months. Trip was trained through Utility, and we were right on schedule when she completed her Companion Dog Excellent title at five months. Then I asked Trip to demonstrate an amusing move for a dog sitter. When I praised Trip enthusiastically, she would spin in a happy circle like a cutting horse. The trouble was that I asked her to demonstrate her spin without warming up. She damaged a neck disk. She healed with rest, but I never asked her to jump again, and her obedience career was over. Warm those dogs up. Thoroughly warmed-up dogs are much less subject to injury than dogs that haven't been.

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