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Improving Strength and Stride with Cavalettis
Cavaletti training, or trotting through low-set poles, has been used with horses for decades to improve stride length, limb awareness, and timing. Cavalettis are also used to improve heart and circulatory function and to test the horse’s ability to learn. More recent information says that cavaletti training can also improve core strength, power in each limb, and overall movement. 
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What Do They See and How Do We Know, Part 1
Veterinary ophthalmologists can’t ask their patients about their vision. Yet dogs have many of the same eye problems people have—and a few more! So, how can we tell how well our dogs see? And how do we know what they see?
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What Do They See and How Do We Know, Part 2
In the second part of this two-part article, Dr. Cook discusses vision abnormalities.
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Toe Inuries in Agility Dogs

By Debra Sellon

If your dog suffers an orthopedic injury, you are often asked to make a decision regarding which treatment options you want to pursue. What you may not know is that vets have little information other than their personal experience to help them predict performance outcomes after specific injuries or surgeries. In contrast, in the world of athletic horses, there is much scientific evidence to guide these decisions. For most common equine injuries, there is ample evidence to determine the probability of return to athletic function after specific surgical procedures. A team of researchers from across the U.S. is taking the first steps toward developing this type of evidence to guide decision-making related to injuries in canine athletes.

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Caveletti Training Log
Finding ways to work on your dog's coordination, strength, and conditioning in a convenient and efficient fashion is essential. In the May 2014 installment of Daisy Peel's "The 10-Minute Trainer" series, she covers caveletti training. This PDF is the log she references in the article for keeping records of training sessions.
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Why Toes Are So Important!
Toe injuries are often missed or overlooked. The significance of this lies in that the paws are inversely proportionate to athletic ability. Missed or inappropriately treated injuries can result in decreased performance or even retirement of the canine athlete. As always, prevention and early recognition of any injury is crucial to keeping your canine partner on course.
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Congenital Conditions: Patellar Luxation
Patellar luxation is a common condition seen in toy, miniature, and large breed dogs and is characterized by the kneecap dislocating or floating out of the trochlear groove. The kneecap can float either to the inside of the knee (medial luxation) or to the outside of the knee (lateral luxation). Medial luxations account for 80%-90% of all cases, regardless of the size or type of dog.
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Management of Osteoarthritis in Performance Dogs
Osteoarthritis (OA) affects nearly one out of five dogs over one year of age in the U.S. (Johnston SA, 1997). OA develops as the result of joint instability, direct or indirect damage to the joint surface, or from faulty bone and cartilage development. Dogs that are elderly, obese, or that have had a long athletic career are more likely to suffer from OA.
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A Review of Canine Cruciate Disease
Cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) deficiency is the most common cause of hind limb lameness in the canine and is estimated to affect one million dogs annually. The canine CCL is analogous to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in humans; however, there are significant differences in the biomechanics of the human knee and canine stifle (knee) and the way in which deficiencies occur between the two species.
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Carpal and Tarsal Injuries
Injuries to the carpal and tarsal joints are common in performance dogs. These joints act as shock absorbers during weight bearing and are prone to injury due to their anatomic complexity and lack of muscular support. It is this complexity that creates a diagnostic problem for many veterinarians, and many carpal and tarsal injuries, particularly those that go undiagnosed or untreated, can result in an increased risk of osteoarthritis and potential long-term lameness.
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What Is Early Takeoff Syndrome?
Early takeoff syndrome (ETS) is a term I use to describe a jumping problem seen in some performance dogs where they take off too early for jumps. The syndrome ranges from a subtle hitch on the dog’s final stride to severe stuttering before a jump. The dog most often inappropriately shortens his last stride before takeoff, but some dogs simply leave out the last stride. In both cases, the takeoff distance is too far back leading to the dog’s jumping arc peaking before the bar, and the dog begins the descent phase of the arc before he reaches the hurdle. As a result, the dog may knock bars.
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Running a Dog with Epilepsy
Without a doubt, the #1 health concern for dog owners over the past several years has been epilepsy, a chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures. An epilepsy diagnosis is not a death sentence, but it does add more challenges for the owners of these dogs to overcome, especially performance dog owners. Can your epileptic dog compete safely in agility?
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Interpreting Dog Food Labels: What You Need to Know
Your trainer has one feeding recommendation, your best friend another, and your veterinarian a third. There are so many different dog foods available now, where do you even begin? You are officially overwhelmed. What is best for your dog? Do you make your choice by price, ingredients, or protein content? This article is designed to give you basic information about interpreting dog food labels, so you can determine what is best to feed your canine athlete. It also contains information on the Purina Body Condition System.
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Does Your Dog Need Health Insurance?
Since most pet owners have health insurance for themselves, many wonder if their dogs need similar protection. In 2005, we tackled this topic in the April issue of Clean Run magazine. But in six years, the pet insurance industry has grown substantially and much has changed.
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Your Dog Is What He Eats
The focus on nutrition for human athletes has been ongoing for many years. Canine athletes have also had the benefit of nutrition science, but results have been debatable. For example, carbohydrates have been deemed both good and bad, depending on who you ask. The argument that lactic acid causes problems continues. Using dietary fat as the primary source of energy is discussed and debated. The best way to keep a dog hydrated and in top shape throughout competition has brought designer waters to market. These examples are just a few of the ongoing concerns and interesting discussions owners of competition dogs bring to the table.
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The Five Supplements Every Dog Needs, Part 1
We've all heard the old adage, “You are what you eat.” It certainly is true that the body can only build tissues (muscle, bone, brain, and so on) with the raw materials we provide. This same concept is valid for our canine companions as well. Sometimes even the slightest deficiency in a key nutrient can have devastating results. It behooves us to be certain to provide our pets with the best possible nutrition. To understand the need for nutritional supplementation we must first find out the basics of canine nutrition...
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The Five Supplements Every Dog Needs, Part 2
Fish oil is number two on my list of supplements that every dog needs, running a close second to a good, natural multivitamin/mineral supplement. I have seen almost miraculous responses when fish oil is added to the diet of health-challenged pets. To date, over 2,000 scientific studies tout the many benefits of this supplement and more studies are being published every year. The importance of fish oil for dogs will become obvious as we explore the chemistry and biology of fats....
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A Survey of Injuries Occuring in Dogs Participating in Agility
Anecdotal reports of injuries to the dog athletes that participate in agility have raised concerns over specific obstacles, course design, and training methods. Before any changes are made, it is essential to determine if these anecdotes are unfortunate, isolated events or the harbingers of a trend. To achieve this, we need to look at the population at risk (your dogs) and determine the factors that directly affect them. A survey is a useful tool for alerting us to those factors. One year ago many of you participated in our survey that asked you to report injuries that your dogs sustained while training for, or trialing in, agility. The survey was available on the Clean Run website and as hard copy in the January 2006 issue of Clean Run magazine. We requested that you report on the two years prior to the survey and that you respond even if your dogs were not injured. We received more than 1600 responses. We would like to report to you what we have learned
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Preventing Injuries
Injuries happen. They are a part of life with a dog. And while it is impossible to prevent every injury, research and experience suggest that injury rates could be reduced by 25% if owners took appropriate preventative action.
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Strengthening Exercise for Agility, Part 1
As owners of athletic dogs, we are always looking for methods to improve their strength, power, and endurance. This is even truer in dogs that have suffered an injury or undergone surgery to correct a problem and are working toward a return to agility. As an adjunct to agility training, strengthening exercises should be done with a healthy dog on a regular basis, and absolutely must be done before an injured dog returns to agility. In this article we’ll discuss exercises for increasing hind-end awareness as well as exercises for increasing strength of the gluteal and hamstring regions.
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Strengthening Exercise for Agility, Part 2
Dogs participating in agility need a variety of strengthening exercises not only to keep them at their peak performance, but also to protect them against potential injuries. It is essential to offer your agility dog cross-training activities on at least a weekly basis, and a daily basis if possible. If we examine human athletes, they participate in a variety of activities in addition to their normal sport. For example, an athlete involved in track and field not only trains for her individual event, she participates in strengthening and conditioning activities including weight lifting, plyometrics, swimming, sprinting, and long-distance running.
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Treadmill Walking
A land treadmill is a useful tool for ourselves and our beloved dogs. With winter here, a treadmill allows us to maintain performance dogs’ fitness level and provide physical exercise on a regular basis. Treadmill walking also provides an excellent cross-training activity for most other dogs in the household. For dogs that need to lose weight or older dogs that can only walk for short intervals of time, treadmill walking is a great solution to the problem of getting adequate exercise.
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Vision Disorders in Agility Dogs
Agility dog trainers have noticed that some dogs have difficulty jumping obstacles because the dog consistently takes off too early on the approach to the jump. These dogs exhibit a pattern that also involves taking stutter steps, and dropping their heads as if to get a better look at the jump. The purpose of this study was to look for visual abnormalities in dogs
with jumping problems.
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