Posts Tagged ‘Canine Injuries’

Exercise Is The Key

November 1st, 2011 No comments

Let me begin by stating that walking your dog is not a complete exercise regimen.  At best, it is a way for you to get out of the house and for your dog to go to the bathroom.  So, for those of you who own Rottweilers, German Shepherds and other working breeds, let me see if I can give you a fresh viewpoint on the subject of exercise and health.

It is a known fact that most people do not exercise themselves enough on a daily basis.  Just take a look at yourself in a full length mirror if you don’t agree. Now, do you think a dog is any different than a human in this respect?  Over the life of the dog, proper and adequate exercise, diet, training and socialization have a tremendous impact on its longevity and well being.

I’m not going to get into any general statements about what was done elsewhere to draw this conclusion. After over a decade of raising working dogs (Rottweilers, German Shepherds) I can intelligently conclude that these type of dogs require daily, constant, hard exercise to stay in shape, develop good muscle tone, properly digest and metabolize food, keep vital organs oxygenated and live long, healthy lives.

I have always wondered why pet owners will sometimes have a multitude of issues with their dogs,  mostly health related. I used to think it was due to poor diet alone, but I no longer subscribe to that idea.  Taking a look at my own dogs, mostly kennel dogs and bitches, I have observed that without exception, they are healthy, in shape, high energy and long lived. The average life span of one of my dogs is 11 years old. Yet, I hear from people how their dog was put down at age five or six from an assortment of ailments. Why is that?

Okay, I know I’m not doing a scientific study in the purest sense of the word and that I am not a doctor and so on. That does not make me any less qualified to look with my own eyes and draw intelligent conclusions from my observations.

So, based on my own observations over fifteen years of raising working dogs, I am concluding the following:

1. Daily exercise is vital and critical to a dog’s present and future health. This must not be limited to daily walks, as this does not help the dog metabolize his food nor does it help it develop muscle mass/tone, organ development, correct conformation, tissue, ligament and muscle  growth around joints, a strong immune system, and so on. A working dog needs to have at least one good workout per day, for at least five to ten minutes, done when it is NOT too hot, and NOT just before or after eating its meal. Gauge your dog’s stamina and DO NOT OVERDO IT when beginning. Build the dog up, just like a human would build up stamina running or doing other exercise routines. In other words, get the dog in shape and then keep it there by maintaining the daily routine.

2. Obedience training, socialization and play can easily be worked into this regimen, so you can get the most out of the time with your dog.

3. Begin this when the dog is a puppy and continue for the life of the dog.

There is no substitute for proper daily exercise in the life of a dog. (Of course, this doesn’t mean that you run the dog ragged and have it stroke out either!)

Use common sense and help your dog build itself up to be the canine athlete it was bred to be.

Use It Or Lose It

October 18th, 2011 No comments

Working dogs have needs specific not only to their particular breed type, but to their particular grouping in the dog world. In this case I am referring to Rottweilers, German Shepherds and other breeds listed in the Working Dog Group.

As such, nutrition, exercise and development should be geared towards the actual purpose and functions of each breed type and group. Working dogs have been bred specifically to perform tasks. This is not just a label. It is a fact of life and to ignore this fact or sidestep the importance of raising a working dog AS A WORKING DOG is to violate the actual reason for the dog’s existence.

All dogs have the same basic parts, but the way each is dog bred will determine how those parts are used and meant to be used.  The less they are used, the more prone the dog is to injury, illness and other complications (this includes dysplasia, in spite of what the vets will tell you about it being 100% genetic)

Here is an image of a Rottweiler, with labeled body parts:

Basic Canine Anatomy
Alright, now here is a picture of an Italian Greyhound. This dog is a sight hound and as such has been bred over the centuries to run and chase game. Notice the way this dog is physically centered around that basic function:

So, different dogs have different needs. With working dogs, the needs have everything to do with building muscle tone in the front and rear of the dog, to develop strength in the legs, feet, hindquarters, forequarters, hips, elbows, pasterns, chest, and so on. This is because working dogs have been bred and developed as dogs that do a multitude of tasks, not just one type of job. So, because of this, their muscle and bone development is more demanding in order to potentially perform these tasks.

That is why, when I ask people if they exercise their working dog and they tell me ‘Sure, I take him for a walk every day,” I laugh.  Walking a dog once a day is not exercise. They need to run, jump, sit, lay down, get up and do all of the types of exercise that will develop strong muscle tissue and bone growth. Just like body building with humans. Every day. Look at the muscle groups of the Rottweiler again. That did not come about from laying around the house all day and going for a walk at dinner time.

So, the next time you hear someone tell you all about how horribly prone working dogs are to dysplasia and other issues, think about this article. If I raised a dog that had no muscle tone, no endurance, no immune system, I wouldn’t have a kennel.








Injuries in Puppies and Adults – Rush to Judgement?

February 2nd, 2010 No comments

Sometimes a pup or an adult gets an injury while playing or training. It happens. What I have noticed is that the first thing, the very first thing an owner suspects when he sees his dog limping is that he has hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia.

While this is something that you cannot rule out, there are a few other things to take a look at. By the way, I am not dispensing medical advice or diagnosis here, just giving you my viewpoint as a breeder and handler on how to take care of your dog. I train and trial working dogs and prepare them for these trials, so I know a few things. Okay, so you notice that your dog has a limp or is favoring a paw or carrying his weight differently.

1. The first thing I would do is get the dog calm, cooled down and relaxed.

2. Then you palpate the dog. You feel around where he is limping and see if there is a spot where he reacts when you touch or put pressure on it. Pull out his limb and let it come back, see if the leg is coming out or drawing in more than usual. Watch for any signs of pain or reaction in the dog or pup. Feel for any swollen area, broken skin, or any other abnormality on the surface. Check his pads, as sometimes they can split or crack. Make any notes for your vet if you spot something that is obvious or out of the ordinary. If there is a broken bone, get the dog immediate medical attention.

3.  Then, instead of rushing to the emergency vet hospital (unless there is a valid medical emergency), take your dog and put him up in a crate. Yes, a crate.  The reason I am saying this is that, more often than not, it is a soft tissue injury. This is especially true of very young dogs, younger than seven months. The chances of a dog developing a debilitating, arthritic limp prior to seven months are rare, although they cannot be ruled out. Even so, the odds are in your favor that the dog has sprained some muscle or ligament. You must crate the dog and keep him from running around. That’s right, you keep him from running around. Why? because every time he starts to heal the injury, he will re-injure it by running around. If you do not do this, then you will allow this dog to do more damage to himself. So you do what a human would do who has injured himself – give him rest. Take him out for walks on the grass, on the leash, give him a hug and put him back up. No running. At all. You think I am being silly for repeating this, but owners sometimes do not listen because they are being selfish and want to play with their dog or they think it’s cruel to keep their dog in a crate for two weeks.  I think it’s cruel to allow a dog to re-injure itself for no good reason.

4. Do this routine for at least two weeks. Yes, two weeks, minimum, every day, no exceptions. Find other ways to bond with your dog that do not include him blowing out his ACL. After two weeks, if he is no longer limping, wean him off of the rest with light exercise, more walks on the leash.If he’s getting better, but still off a bit, keep him on the routine until he’s 100% better. Remember, it takes time to heal muscle and ligaments. Just ask a human who has had to go through this stuff. It can take months, so do not be impatient.

5. Try to figure out what might have been stressing him out physically. For instance, jumping on concrete, sliding around on tile floors, jumping out of a truck, jumping over tennis nets, heavy running with no warm up or cool down. See if you can discover what, in his daily routines may have led up to the injury. Then, stop him from doing that particular physical activity and when he is healed, get him doing something that is not so stressful physically.

5. Give the dog natural anti-inflammatory supplements right away and continue through his healing stage. MSM is cheap and can be dosed orally. Vitamin C is also a good supplement. DO NOT GIVE THE DOG ANY PAIN KILLERS. Pain killers only mask the cause of the injury and will allow the dog to re-injure. Sometimes owners don’t listen and have to learn the hard way.

It costs about fifteen hundred bucks to repair an ACL on a dog, just so you know.