As many people continue working to achieve their New Year’s fitness resolutions, the number of exercise-related injuries is expected to rise. More than 10,000 Americans visit emergency rooms each day for sports and exercise-related injuries, and according to pet insurance provider Petplan, the most common injuries in athletes closely resemble the most common injuries in pets.
So how can you protect your pet from injury? Artise Stewart, DVM, CCRP of Charleston Veterinary Referral Center (CVRC), offers the following tips for people to help prevent exercise-related injuries in their pets.
- Stretch your pet before AND after any exercise or strenuous event. This includes long walks, runs, agility tournaments, or other competitions/sporting events. Stretching helps prevent injury, increases joint flexibility, improves muscle and soft tissue extensibility, and helps improve the pet's overall performance. If you notice a sore or sensitive spot while stretching your pet, contact your veterinarian immediately as this may be the first sign of an injury.
- Work on conditioning your pet. Conditioning helps increase strength, flexibility and endurance in pets. Pulling weights, swimming, trotting for long distances, or walking on a treadmill, underwater treadmill or in the sand are all great ways to increase your pet’s endurance. Start slow when trying to increase endurance, as working too hard too fast may cause injury. Try increasing your pet’s exercise time by 2 minutes each week, and keep an eye out for any signs of fatigue such as excessive panting or muscle trembling.
- Be on the lookout for limping. When an animal limps it means they are in pain and need to be seen by a vet immediately. Do not give any over-the-counter medications to your pet as they have different effects on pets than in people.
- Keep your pet’s weight in check. Overweight and obese animals are more prone to injury as the excessive weight places more stress on their joints and muscles. Help your pet maintain a healthy weight by engaging them in fun and entertaining activities such as swimming, hiking and spending time at the beach. Most pets would rather be spending time with you than receiving food (common misconception), so take your pet to the park, throw the ball outside, or go for a jog—your pet will love you for all the time you spend with them!
About Charleston Veterinary Referral Center:
Charleston Veterinary Referral Center (CVRC) is a specialty referral, emergency & critical care veterinary hospital which opened in March, 2011. The Center offers a cohesive team of veterinary professionals and staff that are dedicated to practicing the highest caliber of medicine and surgery available. CVRC believes that great care and service are intertwined. With a commitment to respect the integrity of the referral relationship with primary care veterinarians, doctors and staff at CVRC work tirelessly toward the goal of great communication. Our facility is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can be reached at (843) 614-VETS (8387). For more information, please visit us online at http://www.CharlestonVRC.com or find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/CharlestonVRC.