If your dog loves to run, cavort and leap over obstacles in his way, don’t be alarmed; it just means you have a normal and healthy canine companion. However, minor and major leap-related injuries are common with dogs, and there are a number of things you can do to minimize risk as your dog engages in regular exercise. The largest pet insurance company in the United States reports that from Feb. 29, 2012, to Feb. 29, 2016, dog owners filed over 180,200 claims for leap-related injuries.
By far the majority of the claims were for soft-tissue injuries such as bruises and cuts. Other injuries due to leaping activities included sprains, broken legs, and slipped vertebral discs or other back injuries. Soft-tissue injuries are relatively minor and part of normal wear and tear, but broken bones and back injuries are much more serious and expensive to deal with.
Regular exercise in safe environments is the key to avoiding leaping-related injuries. Be sure the areas your dog runs and jumps in outdoors are safe and hazard-free, and maintain control of your dog at all times. Collar strain causes neck and cervical disc injuries, so be sure your dog has good leash habits, or consider switching to a harness rather than a collar.
Sprains and back injuries often occur because your dog has lost muscle tone due to irregular exercise. If your dog has been sedentary throughout a cold winter or even during a busy work week, be sure he warms up before engaging in intense exercise. Better yet, be creative and find a way to give him some exercise every day, even if you are busy or the weather is inclement. The bare minimum of exercise for dogs to maintain muscle tone is 20 minutes a day three times a week, but the best option for your dog, especially if he is aging, is to try for at least 40 minutes of vigorous exercise daily. Read this article about how exercise mutually benefits you and your dog, and which exercises are best for your dog’s breed and disposition.
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