During the past years dog sport has become more goal oriented and practiced more professional like. Dog sport has become top sport. There is a massive group of people that practice extremely goal oriented. There is a new profession, dog sport professionals, that practice, instruct and give seminars for living. Indoor dog sport places have given extra time for training season. We used to practice as long as we could paddle thru all that snow and see at dimming evenings. Today, even during the darkest winter time, systematic practicing is possible because of the big and heated indoor sport dog arenas. Do not have to exaggerate when I say that people used to have house dogs to play with for person’s and dog’s pleasure. Today a specific dog race and an individual dog are selected for a particular dog sport career in mind. There are more and more characteristics comparable with horse racing, very professional-like national teams, sponsorship contracts and doping regulations.
Veterinarian’s role has also changed; a new and specified dog sport science is born. Its purpose is to progress sport dogs’ health and improve the performance by combining the knowhow of veterinary science and knowledge of different dog sports. A veterinarian must recognize the challenges of different sports both in practice and in competition. Sport dog’s optimum recovery to full practice and performance condition requires fast and exact diagnosis, excellent research and treatment possibilities and individually tailored recovery program.
By taking care of sport dog’s musculoskeletal system and also comprehensive wellbeing, not only sport dog’s performance may be improved but also to prevent injuries.
The essential of preventing problems is to combine sport dogs’ basic health care, nutrition and physiotherapy with training and competition routines knowledge. Sport dog handlers recognize very early abnormal dog behavior or unnatural actions. The best results are accomplished with the cooperation of sport dog handler and veterinarian acquainted with the sport and sport dogs.
Active lifestyle and practicing the sport may expose sport dogs to traumas and repetitive strain injuries. It is crucially important for successful and complete treatment, in case of traumas and injuries occur, that both dog handler and veterinarian both understand the situations that are typical to the sport.
It used to be enough that a dog doing this and that for a hobby became capable of living its life as full time house dog life after a recovery from a possible injury. Currently a sport dog’s injury recovery is not aiming at living as a house dog but to get back to the level dog was, as fast as possible. Understanding the complete situation, orthopedic expertise and experience together with world class diagnostic equipment (i.e. CT-scan, laparoscopies) enable fast and exact diagnosis.
To make a full recovery back to the sport dog’s normal level of performance as fast as possible, the dog is treated by respecting the biodynamics of dog’s own physiological musculoskeletal system and avoid the composure of excessive scar tissue. Regenerative (i.e. stem cell therapy, PRP therapy, IRAP therapy, Acell) therapies provide injured tissue recovery faster and better resemblance to the original. The possible surgery operations are made primarily using tissue friendly laparoscopic techniques. Recovery treatments and physiotherapy progressing the healing process (i.e. manual treatment, laser therapy, underwater hydrotherapy treadmill) are an important part of fast and successful return to the stadiums.
Finland has been a long time a forerunner of dog sports. We have top class knowhow and success almost in all dog sports. Because of them the number of dog sport professionals and active doers is increasing. There is groundbreaking scientific sport dog research in Finland and new research programs are released one after the other. I have a feeling that also a big audience is becoming more interested in dogs and dog sports.
I hope that it is only a matter of time when these dog sports become familiarized to all, subjects to coffee table conversations and why not to TV sports news.
The author is a Licentiate of Veterinary Medicine
GP Certificate in Small Animal Surgey
MEVET, veterinary clinic