2013 International Working Dog Breeding Congress (2): canine sport medicine, a growing discipline!

Let’s go back to this great conference I attended beginning of October (oh my, time flies by!) in San Antonio. If you remember well, I told you great stuffs were presented there. One of the speaker touched on sport medicine, during a talk entitled “Identifying and treating common sporting injuries in working dogs”. I played basket-ball for many years and even if I was lucky enough not to have ever been severely injured, I totally understand how important this specific area of medicine can be, especially when it comes to high-performing athletes.

What about working dogs? Well, I discovered that veterinary sport medicine was a discipline too when I was working at the vet school in Alfort, Paris (one of my former colleagues Pr Dominique Grandjean was running a canine rehabilitation center there). So without being an expert in this field, I already knew a few things. But I really enjoyed this talk and took some notes that I thought I should definitely share with the rest of our PRO community!

The speaker Dr Bess Pierce said that during more than 20 years, for everything related to canine sport medicine the credo was: “Rest and Rimadyl” (FYI, this is an anti-inflammatory drug we have available in our vet clinics).  But according to her, so much more can be done and part of it… is exercising! Exercise is indeed now considered as medicine: rest will not make things better, and if surgical correction is clearly the go-to option for many sport injuries (like ACL or fractures) many other options are now available in veterinary medicine:

-          Cryotherapy: this causes vessel constriction and will decrease swelling and inflammation.

-          Thermotherapy: leads to vasodilatation and increases supply of oxygen, nutrients, antibodies and also clearance of toxic metabolites.

-          Therapeutic ultrasounds: enables breakdown of scar tissue, increases elasticity of muscles and local circulation

-          Therapeutic laser: use of near-infrared/red spectrum, which leads to a cascade of events in the cell causing cell proliferation/cell motility/cellular growth…

-          Extra-corporal shockwave therapy: cells convert mechanical stimulus into chemical activity which helps the healing process; good indication for tendon/ligament damages

-          Underwater treadmill: used in a variety of orthopedic problems, the water level can be adapted to change the properties of buoyancy and resistance.

Ok, there are lots of things that can be done, but how do we use them for sporting dogs? As I said, this is not my area of expertise but the good news is that some of my vet colleagues are definitely getting into it! If you want to learn more don’t hesitate to visit this website http://www.rehabvets.org/index.lasso that will tell you more about this developing area of vet medicine. And if you used some of these for your own dogs, please share your experience with the rest of our community, this will be a good opportunity for all of us to learn on veterinary sport medicine!  

Remember we are all part of the same PRO community! Don’t hesitate then: share with us your experiences, ask your questions and let us know what you think! Social networks enable us to keep the discussion going, so whether you are a Facebooker or a Twitter-addict, you can – and should!- be part of it!

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