Controlling your dog’s allergies: The EDVS Approach

October 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Your dog is keeping you up all night scratching. In fact, your dog scratches all the time, its skin is red and raw and may have hair loss and lesions. Your dog could have allergies. The most common symptoms owners bring their dog into the vet suspecting allergies is itching and chronic skin infections. However did you know that there are other signs of allergies such as red paws, chronic ear infections, chronic loose stool, and even vomiting? All of these problems are very frustrating for the owner and also frustrating for the veterinarian to attempt to treat. Conventional veterinary care has a difficult time managing this disease and many veterinarians are just as frustrated with treatment as the owners of the allergic dog. So what can we do? In this series of posts I am going to explain how I manage dog allergies using an approach called EDVS.

First, every owner that has a dog that suffers from allergies needs to know that allergies is a disease that can be controlled and managed but most likely will not ever be cured. To control the disease, you need to support and balance the immune system and focus on the (E)nivronment, (D)iet, (V)accinations, and (S)upplements. Once explained to you it will make sense to use the EDVS approach and how you can live with your dog and your dog can have a good quality of life living with you for many years.

Basically, an allergy is a hypersensitive immune system. Unfortunately the immune system is one of the most misunderstood systems of the dog’s body. Although it is studied extensively and many components are well understood the actual cause and effect of how it actually all works is elusive. The immune system is a well trained and amazing war machine capable of identifying numerous foreign invaders, however it can make mistakes, especially when it is hypersensitive. If we could figure out exactly how the dog’s immune system makes mistakes we could easily prevent allergies. The mistakes that the immune system makes is on identifying foreign invaders. When the immune system is hypersensitive it can misidentify a substance as foreign and attack it. Most commonly the body misinterprets proteins and synthetic chemicals that are chemically structured similar to proteins.

When the dog’s immune system finds a virus or bacteria and identifies it as such, it goes into attack mode using lymphocytes and other white blood cells to kill it and remove it from the body. Viruses and bacteria are essentially protein molecules and dna molecules that the body understands and the system of attack is usually quite effective in removing these proteins and abnormal dna molecules from the body. When the body misidentifies a different protein or chemical substance as an invader and attacks it using the same defense mechanisms it is unable to clear it. The immune system becomes confused especially if the dog continues to be exposed to the substance. The dog’s immune system attacks even harder and with more ferocity, continuing to try and exterminate the substance that it can not destroy; which explains why over time the dog’s allergies are worse and worse. It explains why every year the dog’s allergies are worse than the previous. Using immunoglobulins, mast cells, basophils and other white blood cells, the weapons of the dog’s immune system, the immune system continues to fight creating havoc by releasing histamine and destroying surrounding normal cells in its attempts to clear the allergen it sees as a foreign invader. The symptoms of allergies, red inflamed skin, inflamed ears,  diarrhea, vomiting, etc is caused by this destruction and histamine release. Many dogs have chronic ear infections and skin infections because the body is so busy trying to destroy the allergen that it is not able to take care of other bacteria and yeast.

Conventional veterinary treatment seeks to decrease the immune response and help the symptoms using corticosteroids such as prednisone and antibiotics. The problem is that this only provides temporary relief and does not address the underlying issue of the hypersensitive immune system. However, even holistic medicine can not cure the issues of a hypersensitive immune system it can only manage the problem and that is by managing (E)nivronment, (D)iet, (V)accinations, and (S)upplements. More to come in future posts.

Golden Retriever Lifetime Study

September 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Golden retrievers have some of the friendliest, most lovable dispositions out of any dog breed. Many owners consider their golden retrievers to be important members of the family who provide everything from companionship and entertainment to boundless love and selfless devotion.

Through its Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, the Morris Animal Foundation has come up with a wonderful opportunity for golden retriever owners who are at least 18 years of age and living in the United States to give back to the pets who give us so much. Cancer is the leading cause of death in all dogs older than age two, and it sadly kills over half of all golden retrievers. The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study hopes to drastically lower these numbers and improve the health of golden retrievers everywhere by studying them, as the study’s name suggest, over the course of a dog’s lifetime.

Participation is limited to golden retrievers that are healthy, less than 2 years old at the time of application and that have a three-generation pedigree, and it extends throughout the life of your dog. If you participate, you are responsible for selecting a veterinarian, completing an online questionnaire about your dog’s habits and temperament and annually visiting the veterinarian for exams and sample collections.

While participating is certainly a long-term commitment, the study’s findings have the potential to be incredibly valuable in improving the health of future golden retrievers. Participating will allow researchers to help identify how certain factors such as genetics and diet could affect a golden retriever’s risk of getting cancer and other major health disorders, and can assist researchers in developing more effective methods of dealing with cancer diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

The study is an easy, minimally invasive and inexpensive way to give back to future generations of golden retrievers in a big way. If this seems like an opportunity that you or any other golden retriever-owners you know may be interested in, visit the Morris Animal Foundation online to learn more about the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study and get started on the registration process. Sign up today and help make the world a better, healthier place for your golden retriever!

Alternatives to NSAIDs: Rimadyl, Previcox, Metacam, Deramaxx, etc

July 28, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

I am asked almost daily about alternatives to using NonSteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) like Rimadyl, Previcox, Metacam, Deramaxx. People are afraid to use these drugs because of their possible side effects. The most common side effects include digestive upset (vomiting/diarrhea), stomach ulcers, and liver disease. One of the worst possible side effects is death caused by these drugs. Never thought death could be a side effect of a medicine that was supposed to help your dog feel better but it can happen…luckily VERY RARELY!

This article is not to bash NSAIDs because, to be honest, it still is one of my most prescribed drugs. Why? Because they work! Dogs with acute injuries may require a controlling of inflammation and so for a short duration will need to be on an anti-inflammatory. These products work well and on most occasions are safe for short term use. A dog at the end of its life may have aches and pains that prevent it from having a good quality of life, a daily NSAID may be just the answer to provide that quality of life.

Even if your dog has to take one of these products there are some other products that can be of assistance in reducing the side effects. A couple of products S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) and Milk Thistle have been known to help prevent the liver toxicity of NSAIDs. Aloe Vera can help reduce the chance of ulcers with NSAIDs.

However there are alternatives to NSAIDs that do not have the side effects –

Herbals and Nutraceuticals – Many of my older patients are already taking some form of nutraceutical for joint health in the form of glucosamine and /or chondroitin sulfate. There are other products which can help with inflammation similar to that of NSAIDs such Boswelia, Curcumin (Tumeric), Bromelain, and Devil’s Claw are the most common. Using plant enzymes an hour before or after a meal so that they are absorbed and not used to digest that meal have an anti-inflammatory effect. Even Omega 3s and 6s found in fish oil and krill oil have a good anti-inflammatory effect. I usually have a dog start on products such as these before going to an NSAID they may not be as potent as an NSAID but they also do not have the side effects either.

Acupuncture – This is a favorite of mine and helps many dogs with pain. It is a little time consuming and can be more expensive but it does help. Using acupuncture and Chinese Herbals together can really help out a dog so that it does not need NSAIDs or even my severely painful dogs that acupuncture and herbals can get them off steroids and Tramadol!

Pulsed Electromagnetic Therapy (PEMF) – This is a machine that uses an electric current to make a magnetic field which increases the blood circulation and reduces the inflammation of the area of the body that has inflammation. It works great for animals that have a specific area of inflammation that needs to be treated. It also has little to no side effects. I am starting to use a small portable take home PEMF device from Assisi for a variety of patients, especially for the pets that can not tolerate acupuncture.

Laser Therapy – Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is the use of light emitted by a laser machine to effect tissue. It increases circulation, reduces inflammation and produces an anti-inflammatory effect. It is painless so it really works well for the dogs that are painful and can not tolerate acupuncture. It does take several treatments and would require a couple trips to the veterinarian each week for a few weeks, depending on what is being treated. It works well for muscle pain and inflammation from arthritis and works exceptionally well on wounds.

From herbals and nutraceuticals to historically used acupuncture to the latest and greatest Laser therapy or PEMF or to even just using NSAIDs with some supportive help of other products, the answer to your dogs pain can be found. There are many alternatives to NSAIDs you just need to know they are available and use the one that works best for you and your pet.

Having a Healthy Horse

July 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

There are some keys to having a healthy horse and it is similar to us being healthy and one of my favorite motos – garbage in, garbage out. Or in a more positive light that moto is if you expect the best, then you have to treat it the best. Keys to a healthy horse would be good diet, plenty of fresh water, proper exercise and rest. It is  a simple formula and it can not be made any easier.

An article from the Cowgirl Way Magazine explains it in a little more detail –

Top 10 Rules For a Healthy Horse ~ The Cowgirl Way Magazine™

http://www.thecowgirlwaymagazine.com Thu, 20 Jun 2013

1. Start with a healthy horse
2. Food type and quality
3. Natural environment (pasture & herd)
4. Healthy stall
5. Safe pasture
6. Preventative routine medical
7. Watch and regularly inspect the horse
8. Shelter
9. Consider breed and individual requirements
10. Continue to learn

To read details go to —>http://www.thecowgirlwaymagazine.com

Overall the article is great – I do have some issue with the details of the 6th rule in regards to deworming regularly, especially with the increase in numbers of resistant strongyles across the country. The more appropriate method for deworming is to test first and deworm only when necessary. This may be what he meant considering that Dr Stewart did write – “Worming requirements depend partly on where you live (parasite types and severity vary by region).” however it needs to be more specific considering most horse owners still think that deworming regularly means every 30-60 days, which is increasing the numbers of resistant strongyles. With that one clarification, the article is right on with the details to having a healthy horse.

Neutering Your Dog – 3 Problems with Neutering Early

June 13, 2013 by · 4 Comments 

With the push from the Humane Society, rescues and dog shelters to neuter as early as possible it may not be politically correct and seems even anti-overpopulation to suggest that we are not doing our dogs right by neutering them, especially when we neuter them early. However with concern for each dog as an individual and taking into account what early neutering does to a dog’s long term health, I will suggest that neutering must be done after a dog is finished growing. There are many problems with early neutering but 3 really stick out as significant health issues that owners should be aware of before they decide to neuter their dogs before their growth plates have closed.

A study from veterinarians at University of California-Davis gives support to being concerned about early neutering.

Golden retriever study suggests neutering affects dog health :: UC 

http://news.ucdavis.eduWed, 13 Feb 2013 22:00:00 GMT

Neutering, and the age at which a dog is neutered, may affect the animal’s risk for developing certain cancers and joint diseases, according to a new study of golden retrievers by a team of.

 

Problem #1 – Increased orthopedic injuries – the growth plates need to have optimal hormonal balance to close properly. Obviously neutering causes an imbalance in the hormonal system by removing a major hormone contributing organ, so the growth plates do not close and allows the long bones of the legs to grow longer. On average dogs that are neutered early will grow longer and taller. Growing longer and taller changes the biomechanics and movement of the dog and places extra stress on tendons, ligaments and muscles. This may explain the increased incidence of cruciate ruptures in dogs that are neutered early.

Problem #2 – Increased arthritis – the changes in biomechanics and stress on the tendons, ligaments and muscles will also increase stress on the action of the dogs joints thus increasing the incidence of joint osteoarthritis. Another contributing factor could also be the average increased weight in neutered dogs placing increased stress on joints as well. The UC-Davis study found an increased incidence of hip dysplasia in male dogs neutered before a year of age doubled that of the of dogs neutered after a year of age and non-neutered dogs.

Problem #3 – Increased incidence of certain cancers – Cancer is difficult because there are so many contributing factors but hormones play a large part. Dogs that are neutered late have higher incidences of mammary tumors, mast cell tumors and hemangiosarcoma in females. However early neutering has increased incidence of osteosarcomas and lymphosarcoma. These incidences are greater than in non neutered dogs.

You are your dog’s advocate but you are also responsible for your dog and if you choose not to neuter your dog or to wait to neuter your dog. It is your responsibility to keep him/her safeguarded against accidental breedings and contributing to the overpopulation problem. With research and information becoming more apparent that early neutering is not ideal for the health of your dog, it is important to be proactive in the health of your dog and choose the time of neutering your pet wisely.

List of Common Household Items Toxic to Pets

May 10, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

We often forget how hazardous common items and foods can be for our pets.  Below is a comprehensive list of items to keep away from your pets.  This is a great list to keep on your refrigerator or someplace accessible to the whole family.  In addition to this list keep the phone numbers for your local veterinarian and emergency veterinarian visible as well.  It is important to stay calm and act quickly when a pet has consumed something toxic.  Even after ingesting many of these items, it can take several hours for your pet to show symptoms. If you have witnessed your pet ingesting something or just suspect that your pet has consumed something dangerous contact your veterinarian immediately.

Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet

  • Alcoholic beverages

  • Avocado

  • Chocolate (all forms)

  • Coffee (all forms)

  • Fatty foods

  • Macadamia nuts

  • Moldy or spoiled foods

  • Onions, onion powder

  • Raisins and grapes

  • Salt

  • Yeast dough

  • Garlic

  • Products sweetened with xylitol (most sugar free gum contains xylitol)

Other Household items

  • Citronella candles

  • Cocoa mulch

  • Compost piles Fertilizers

  • Swimming-pool treatment supplies

  • Fly baits containing methomyl

  • Slug and snail baits containing metaldehyde

  • Prescription medications

  • Antifreeze

  • Liquid potpourri

  • Ice melting products

  • Rat and mouse bait

  • Fabric softener sheets

 

Guest post by Leslie Cook – Lifelong animal lover and pet boutique owner of Woof Life in Crown Point, IN, with a passion for proactive pet care. If you are in the area please stop by and visit our store – http://www.wooflife.com/

Hill’s Science Diet feeling the change

April 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Hill’s Science Diet petfood brand losing market share as consumers look to smaller petfood brands for more natural options is the title of an article from PetFoodIndustry.com

From the article –

In an effort to compete, Hill’s introduced the Science Diet Nature’s Best line, which included ingredients like lamb, brewers rice, soybean meal and apples. But, “the consumer had a disconnect with this idea of Science Diet and a naturals product,” said Ian Cook, Colgate CEO.

I wonder why? Is it because that Science Diet has ruined it’s reputation a long time ago with the holistic community and now the main stream pet owners are seeing the advantages of feeding their dogs a food based in similar fresh ingredients that they themselves would eat?

Or could it be that they have stagnated while the rest of the industry has changed with the consumer ideals? –

Hill’s launches new Ideal Balance natural petfood brand – New line of dog and cat food is first new petfood brand from Hill’s since 1968 – Is it better late than never or a little too late?

Interestingly, even though they are late to the party and have a large number of foods to model to try to reclaim market share they have still may have missed the mark on this new food. It only received 3 out of 5 stars from Dog Food Advisor, an independently owned website – Hill’s Ideal Balance Grain Free Dog Food (Dry) Although the food is acceptable and is better than their previous products it is still a dog food that your dog can survive on rather than thrive. As consumers we are looking for the best quality ingredients and a dog food that allows our dogs to be their best, to live optimally.

Dr Becker has a few comments about Hill’s decline in her article –
Buyers “Bust” This Pet Food Company – Should You Too?

She summarizes how to maintain a healthy pet extremely well –

While pet product companies and marketers try to find ever more unique and creative ways to lure you, their human consumer, your carnivorous cat or dog maintains the same basic requirement for whole, fresh, unprocessed food as her wild ancestors. In fact, your pet’s health, vitality and quality of life have little to do with how many nifty new pet products you purchase.

In addition to the right diet, your pet’s other most basic needs include:

Plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation
Minimal exposure to toxins including vaccines, veterinary drugs, and pest preventives
Regular (preferably twice yearly) wellness exams with an integrative or holistic vet
Routine at-home dental care, bathing and grooming
When it comes to caring for your dog or cat, it’s not about finding the latest new invention in pet food or products … it’s about providing your furry companion with a simple, natural diet and lifestyle that creates abundant health and a long life.

What is your opinion? Is Hill’s changing your mind about their pet food? Or have you always fed Hill’s because it has been good food for your dog?

Controlled Substance Act Making it Illegal for Mobile Vets to Carry Euthanasia Solution

April 16, 2013 by · 8 Comments 

I do not usually become involved in the legal process but this one is important. The Controlled Substance Act is making it illegal for mobile veterinarians to carry controlled substances on their trucks, such as euthanasia solution. If your horse is suffering and the worst is that it needs to be euthanized, your vet will not be allowed to carry the drugs on the truck to provide humane euthanasia by injection.

What an oops!! It is unwitting consequence of the Controlled Substance Act that was completely overlooked. The DEA is already starting to enforce the law with veterinarians. SO a Bill # H.R.1528 is being sponsored “to amend the Controlled Substances Act to allow a veterinarian to transport and dispense controlled substances in the usual course of veterinary practice outside of the registered location.” This will legally allow veterinarians to carry controlled substances so that horses and other animals can be humanely euthanized when necessary at the farm.

To support this new bill please go to – Help Ensure that Veterinarians Can Provide Complete Care to Their Animal Patients

A Facebook friend, horse owner and lawyer, Laura McFarland-Taylor, changed her action alert to be more in line with a horse owner to read as such –

I am writing as not only a horse owner that regularly uses ambulatory veterinary services, but more importantly as a constituent, to urge you to cosponsor the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act of 2013 (H.R. 1528). 

Veterinarians treat multiple species of animals in a variety of settings. Unfortunately, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) makes it illegal for veterinarians to take and use controlled substances outside of the locations where they are registered, often their clinics or homes. This means that it is illegal for veterinarians to carry and use vital medications for pain management, anesthesia and euthanasia on farms, in house calls, in veterinary mobile clinics, or ambulatory response situations.

Veterinarians must be able to legally carry and use controlled substances for the health and welfare of the nation’s animals, to safeguard public safety and to protect the nation’s food supply.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which enforces the law, has informed organized veterinary medicine that without a statutory change, veterinarians are in violation of the CSA and cannot legally provide complete veterinary care. The DEA has already notified some veterinarians in California and Washington State that they are in violation of this law.

The practice of veterinary medicine requires veterinarians to be able to treat their animal patients in a variety of settings, like rural areas for the care of large animals where it is often not feasible, practical or possible for owners to bring livestock (i.e., cows, pigs, horses, sheep, and goats) into a veterinary hospital or clinic;

Veterinarians also offer house call services or mobile clinics or conduct research and disease control activities in the field away from the veterinarian’s principal place of business.

Veterinarians also respond to emergency situations where injured animals must be cared for onsite such as the transfer of dangerous wildlife (e.g. bears, cougars) or the rescue of trapped wildlife (e.g. deer trapped in a fence). 

I am asking you to support the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act of 2013 (H.R. 1528)because veterinarians need to legally transport controlled substances to the locations of the animal patients, not only for the health and welfare of the nation’s animals, but for public safety.

Please feel free to contact Dr. Ashley Morgan, at the American Veterinary Medical Association should you need additional information. Dr. Morgan is available at 202-289-3210 or amorgan@avma.org.

 

Thank you for your support in this bill!

My Neutral Stance on Horse Racing

March 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

I had a small thing to think about this weekend (my neutral stance on horse racing) that has inspired me to… well 1. to write this post and 2. to bring back to life this website/blog.

Dom, a sales rep from an internet marketing company, emailed me and offered to write a guest post for this blog in exchange for a link to his client’s website and $120. Amazing to me, since my site has been dead for the past year and a half! You want to pay me $120 to have a post on here? I have to say that Dom was very polite and only mildly pushy and it seemed like a legitimate good deal. So why didn’t I accept the deal?  The site he was going to be linking to was a support site for the horse racing industry and more specifically it was a site that gave good information on how to bet on horse racing.

So now my ethical side didn’t blink at all with the gambling aspect – if someone wants to have fun spending their money on gambling it is not of my concern. However the support of horse racing did give me pause. I was just unsure if I wanted that type of stigma belonging to my website. I’m sure in the past I wouldn’t have thought much about it. If I look back at the posts on this site I may even have a post pointing to horse racing websites – I don’t remember. However now I do care. I have decided to remain neutral on aspects of horse racing.

What do I mean about being neutral? In a previous post I explained my position on horse racing –

There are many reasons for horses not to be racing at 2 years of age. The main one is that the skeletal structure of the horse is still growing and is incapable, in the majority of cases, to handle the stresses that racing places on the it. As for why horses race at 2 years of age, I have yet to hear a good reason that they have to race at that age. Obviously the industry has big money and investments are made. Having a horse wait another year or two before it possibly starts making a return increases the risk of the investment and slows the business of racing dramatically. Also traditionally horses have been raced at this age for many many years. So are these good enough reasons to continue racing at 2 years of age? Personally I do not think so.

As for is horse racing inhumane? I do not believe so and heres my reason..horse love to run, it comes naturally to them. If you have ever ridden a horse, especially one such as a thouroughbred, they love to go and they love to go fast. Interestingly, many of them actually love to race, they are not forced into it, they really want to do it. Ask any jockey or horseman that has been around the racing industry for even a short amount of time, they know when a horse just is not into it. They know if the horse really does not like it, that horse is not going to win and will be removed from racing very quickly. Now this does not mean that all of racing is humane. I believe some things need to be changed such as the age at which they are allowed to race needs to be raised. More turnout should be allowed, more rest and recovery needs to occur, and less pharmaceutical enhancements.

Because of my opinions I choose not to support the horse racing industry, however I am not going to bash them either. Many advancements in medicine have come from horse racing, many of the ideas we have for treating injuries, taking care of illnesses, and new uses for pharmaceuticals have come from the horse racing industry. As with all aspects of life there is good and bad, thus to remain neutral makes sense.

The good of horse racing is watching those magnificent animals charging down the track, true beauty in motion, such powerful animals! The upper echelon horses are well cared for and provided the best in medical care and the best care in general given the constraints of the industry. They are treated like kings, even most of the other horses are cared for in a proper manner because a horse that is not well cared for is not going to run very well and certainly is not going to make any money. What I really do not like with the horse racing industry is what I call the “backside of the track”. I have been there and seen it. I have seen the desperation in the owners and trainers that are not doing so well and the treatment of the horses to try to get them to compete at a high level, the attempts at glory of trying to be at the top and it’s not pretty.

The early training of horses that are not yet even fully grown is the worst offense and the fact that it takes 100+ horses to make 1 winner and at the upper echelons 1000+ horses to make a winner, some farms breed for years and never have a top echelon winner. The majority of horses do not make it to the top, do not make it to glory, do not make it to be a magnificent animal in the big three races. There are a lot of horses used up, broken, and beat down in attempts to make it to the top and for that reason I do not wish to support horse racing.

To be honest there is bad in almost every aspect of the horse world and in every discipline. The “backside of the track” in the other disciplines – Dressage and rollkur, Arabian show horses and gingering, Tennessee Walkers and soring, Jumpers and poling, Saddlebreds and their shoes and tail sets, Quarter horses and their shoeing and tying their heads up, etc, etc. Horses in all disciplines also are broken down by bad training, excessive competition, improper medical treatment, and owned by desperate owners trying to win blue ribbons. It is almost no different than that of the horse racing industry with the exception that it is usually for self indulgence and self glory, rather than a business and money. I do not wish to support these bad aspects either.

I wish to remain neutral. I work in the horse industry and there are good people, there are people doing the right things and caring for their horses in the best way they know how to care for them. I wish to provide information about ways to improve the health, welfare and movement of horses no matter what their discipline. If a website is devoted to health care or welfare of horses I will be glad to promote the website. If a website has an article about health care (even a racing website) I would be inclined to promote the article, but on my own terms and pointing specifically to the page/post I choose. I feel better about myself and my conscious will be clear.

What do you think? Did I make the right decision or am I just sitting up here on my soapbox blowing smoke looking like a fool?

Performance Dog Play

December 2, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Should I let my performance dog play with other dogs? My dog may suffer an injury.

This is a common concern for canine athlete owners and trainers; injuries in general are concerns, so why take a risk with an athlete that will have to perform? The thought about not letting them play with other dogs to reduce the chance of injuries is common however is it right? In one study performance dog play with the human handler is important especially right before an event. It helps with keeping the dog focused during the event. But how about dog on dog play? Should you let your prized performance dog play with that other dog?  – You want the short opinionated answer, yes you should allow your performance dog to play with other dogs.

Let’s go through my reasoning for allowing performance dogs to play.

First – your fear here is injuries,right? Why are you letting your dog do an athletic event in the first place? It is much more likely to be injured in its sport than playing with another dog. The most common type of injuries in performance dogs are repetitive stress injuries – shoulder instability, carpal strains, cruciate ruptures, and tendon/ligament strains/tears.The most frequent type of injuries that veterinarians see are broken bones from car accidents and other equally severely traumatic events and then the next most common has to be cruciate ruptures. In canine sport medicine practices cruciates and other tendon/ligament injuries are the most common – the repetitive stress injuries. Besides lacerations to ears and the skin on other areas of the body, dog play does not cause very many injuries and the injuries that it does cause are not likely to affect performance.

Second – dogs are pack animals. The nature of a dog is to be and interact with other dogs and that includes playing. Apologies to my single dog family homes for the next statement, but dogs that are not allowed to interact with other dogs are more likely to have behavior disorders. So for the mind of the performance dog, it would be best to allow the dog to have its natural tendencies and then control/moderate the activity. Dog play is going to help the dog in other aspects, such as relaxation (we all know – all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy), develops coordination and muscle development utilizing different muscles than the normal routine of training which will help balance, and can learn from the other dog such as restraint and impulse control.

Lastly – is your dog a superstar, and no, not in your own mind? Is it one of the top dogs in the nation? Are you going for your second national title in your chosen canine sport? If you are, then you are in the top 1% (and I am being generous) of canine performance dog owners. So then why do all these owners do it, when only a select handful make it to the top? Very few are making money from it, even some of the top are spending money not making it. It must not be about being the top or about making money, it has to be about something else. For the majority, it is about having fun with the dog. OK, then how about it? You are going to prevent your dog from having fun, because you have a fear that it is possibly going to injure itself so that it will not miss out on the opportunity to perform something else that is fun but is more likely to cause injury? How does that make any sense?

Let the dog be a dog and let your performance dog play! There is much less of a chance of injury playing than in the sport itself, it helps the behavior and mind set of the dog and its fun!

Do you really want to prevent performance related injuries, then stop worrying about your performance dog playing with other dogs and condition your dog against the repetitive stress injuries by purchasing (and then using) one of  Dr. Chris Zink’s Canine Sports Production books,  Clean Run’s Canine Fitness and Conditioning videos,  or Dr. Debbie Gross Saunders’ Strengthening and Stretching the Performance Dog  videos. You will have a happier and healthier performance dog!