Sporting Dogs: How to Prevent Athletic Injuries

Canine sporting is an exciting pastime for many dog lovers and owners. Like any other human athlete, dogs also get injuries while training and participating in the activity. There are several ways to ensure that your dog’s athletic injuries are down to the minimum.


Nutrition for sporting dogs is a very crucial subject. From when they are pups, ensure that they have the appropriate diet. Avoid overfeeding them foods with lots of calcium and calories when growing. Such actions increase their risk of suffering from developmental orthopedic conditions such as hip dysplasia.

Nutrition for dogs is not the same for all breeds. Some are more sensitive and vulnerable than others. Large meals before a competition or training is a bad idea. It can affect their performance due to their full stomachs. It can also cause gastric dilation volvulus. Instead, serve them a small meal and ensure that they have plenty of water to drink.

Canine Pre-sport Health Screening

Not all dogs can compete in a sporting event. For this reason, it is best to ensure that they are healthy enough to compete. Ask your vet to check them for any underlying health issues. They will perform some screening tests. These include blood tests, X-rays of large joints, posture, gait, and fitness assessments. Your dog will also have to undergo a comprehensive physical exam.

Training and Conditioning Your Dog

You cannot go to a professional sport or event without preparation. The same case applies to dogs. They must have regular exercise to prepare them for the sporting event. Ensure that the training you are subjecting your dog to is suitable for their age. Rigorous training at a young age can lead to chronic injuries. These include ligaments, tendons, bones, and joints.

In training your dog, do it adequately and not excessively. Overtraining can cause injuries, while inadequate training increases their chances of injury. When drilling them for a vigorous event, start low and gradually increase the intensity.

Warm-up and Cool-down When Exercising

Warming up before training or a sporting event helps increase blood circulation. Do a warm-up by walking or jogging your dog for around five to 15 minutes. Close the session with a different set of exercises like sit-to-stand maneuvers. It is best to have your dog do their warm-ups close to the commencement of the sporting event. Be careful not to overwork the dog as it may cause muscle fatigue.

After the sporting event, walk your dog around for approximately 20 minutes. The dog’s muscles need recovery time. Massage and stretch their muscles to reduce stiffness and edema. It helps the dog cool down and gradually slows its breathing and heart rate to normal.


Lameness is a common injury with most athletic dogs. Therefore, your dog needs protection on all sensitive parts of its body. These include paws, joints, or limbs with previous injuries. Remedy this by applying a protective gel on the footpads, especially when walking the dog on rough terrain. Strap or tape the injured areas to avoid discomfort.

For more information on preventing athletic injuries in sporting dogs, visit Brekke Veterinary at our office in Castle Rock, Colorado. You can call (303) 474-4260 today to schedule an appointment.

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