By Jonit Barsky
Veterinary Sports Medicine is a term for the branch of veterinary medicine dedicated to the health and well-being of the canine athlete. The term “athlete” describes sporting dogs, working dogs, and pets who exercise for health or recreation. Dogs of all ages and abilities look to sports medicine veterinarians for guidance on training techniques, injury
prevention and the diagnosis and treatment of sports-related problems.
Athletic events for dogs are on the rise and with that, so too are sports-related injuries. Common canine working pursuits include avalanche and rescue, herding and guarding, hunting and tracking, police and protection work, joring (pulling a human on a sled, bike, skateboard, skis, etc.), and racing.
Common canine sports include agility, fly-ball, disc-dog, lure coursing, earthdog (small terriers and Dachshunds tracking game above and below ground), dock diving, and many, many others. Sports medicine requires a special understanding of these jobs and sports, taking them into consideration when making decisions about the diagnosis, conditioning, management, and rehabilitation of these athletes.
Sports medicine veterinarians are trained to evaluate the whole patient and not just focus on the primary injury or illness. Following a full evaluation, we develop a treatment plan, monitor patient progress and adjust therapeutic recommendations to achieve goal-based success. Sports vets have pursued post-doctorate training in orthopedic surgery, rehabilitation, pain management, chiropractic, and/or acupuncture to allow specialization in this unique field.
Sports vets are the leaders of a health care team often comprised of registered veterinary technicians and physical therapists that provide the necessary therapy to achieve maximum restoration of quality of life and athletic function. So whether your dog is a top agility competitor, a trusted hunting dog, or a valued running companion, look to a sports medicine professional for a multimodal approach to your athlete’s health care. And the next time you see your favorite canine looking uncomfortable, stiff, or showing changes in performance drop us a line at Two Hands Four Paws – we’re happy to help!