The Newsletter was created to provide information for those individuals that work with or handle the athletic or working dog.

  • Summaries of the articles that appeared in the Newsletter over the years are listed below

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  • Influences on Canine Performance
  • Temperature Regulation of the Dog
  • Sesmoids: Little Bones That Can Cause Big Problems

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Article Summaries


Nails: Long or Short
Robert L. Gillette, DVM, MSE

This article discusses how nail length can affect performance and injuries.

Managing Hyperthermia in the Athletic and Working Dog
Robert L. Gillette, DVM, MSE

This article focuses on preventing abnormal hyperthermia and heat stroke in the athletic and working dog.  It describes the two basic components of Hyperthermia – external factors and internal factors.

The Psychological Aspects of Rehabilitation (Authors Note) – A brief descriptive of how to create a positive attitude in the dog that is needing rest as part of their rehabilitation.


Impact Forces of the Carpus
Robert L. Gillette, DVM, MSE

Carpal biomechanics, Carpal preparation, and Injury prevention of the carpus

Field Care of Hyperthermia
Robert L. Gillette, DVM, MSE

Managing Hyperthermia in the Field


Carpal Wrapping
Robert L. Gillette, DVM, MSE

A discussion on the benefits and detriments of carpal wrapping

Canine Sports Psychology: Inherent Drive
Robert L. Gillette, DVM, MSE

A discussion on drive to perform or desire to attain the reward of athletic and working dogs.

Lyme Disease Prevention
Robert L. Gillette, DVM, MSE

The reasons for the vaccination and the effects of vaccinating to prevent lymes disease.


Pharmaceuticals Currently Used for Canine Lameness

The following are a list of drugs currently being used in the canine athlete.

Lameness Diagnosis in Performance Dogs

These increased demands placed upon the animal introduce a higher risk of injury.  In the canine athlete and working dog any musculoskeletal abnormalities are accentuated.   Structural weaknesses or pain that would not be significant in a pet dog could result in lowered performance in the canine athlete.


Dog Food Selection

Selecting and developing a nutrition program based on athletic demands and metabolic demands of activity.

Nutritional Components: Sources of Energy

Provides an understanding of nutritional fundamentals.  This article addresses the basics of the three sources of energy.


Gait Comparison of the Horse and Dog

An overview of the similarities and differences between the canine and equine locomotion.

Variations in Metabolic Response to Activity Anticipation.

Metabolic changes in Field Trial Labrador Retrievers related to pre-event excitation.


The Most Important Muscles of Performance

The body utilizes most of the muscles during activity, but there are certain muscle groups that play a key role in performance.

Athleticism and the Body’s Defense Mechanisms

The body’s immune system can be affected by the conditioning status of the dog and the effects of athletic activity and work.


Gait Analysis and Performance

Using Gait Analysis to Enhance Canine Performance

Performance of the Canine Athlete

An overview of the special issues related to the athletic and working dog when comapared to the typical pet patient.


Paw Pad Wound Management

Overview of paw pad injuries and their medical management

An Introduction to Trigger Points in the Dog

Trigger points can affect performance and cause lameness in the dog. Myofascial trigger points are a localized spasm of muscle and often overlooked in the musculoskeletal examination.


Understanding and Analyzing Performance Drive of the Dog

How structural soundness and metabolic status affect a dogs enthusiasm to perform


Field Emergency Care in Hunting Dogs or Dogs Working in the Field

Making a field emergency kit and its application in the field

Genetics and Performance

Basic genetics and and suggestions on how to optimze the breeding program.


Understanding the Greyhound Racing Gallop

An overview of the basic biomechanics involved in oval track racing.


Exertional Rhabdomyolysis in the Athletic or Working Dog: Part I

Exertional Rhabdomyolysis is a metabolic disease that affects athletic and working dogs. It is related to extreme muscle work to the point that the muscle cells are damaged.  This cellular damage can create secondary problems that can range from minor muscle pain to the death of the dog.


Optimizing the Scenting Ability of the Dog.

Many dogs utilize their scenting abilities in their work or competition.  It is therefor important to minimize any deterrents to this function.  The dog has an excellent sense of smell.  In the working and athletic dog it is important to maintain and take care of their nose.


Exertional Rhabdomyolysis in the Athletic or Working Dog: Part II

Understanding Exertional Rhabdomyolysis provides us with ways to prevent and treat this problem.


Wound Management and Surgery of the Pinna of the Ear

The pinna of the ear is a common site of injury or problems in the athletic or working dog.  It can be a primary injury or related to inflammation of the ear.  Proper care of these problems reduces potential down time related to ear injuries.


The Effect of Joint Movement Alterations on Dog Locomotion

It is important to understand that canine locomotion occurs as a result of the summation of all of the joints.  If one of the joints does not move correctly, other joints must adapt their movement to correct the body’s movement as a whole.  The dog’s gait may not appear to have changed if these joint movement adaptations are minimal.  As the changes and adaptations increase an unsoundness will become evident.  It is important in the canine athlete and working dog to identify these alterations as soon as possible.


Managing Achilles Tendon Injuries

Diagnosing, Surgery and Management Achilles Tendon Injuries


Poison Management: A Brief Overview

The high drive and inquisitive nature of the typical athletic or working dog seems to predispose these dogs to a greater chance of accidental poisoning.  Medical management of poison cases in these dogs is the same as the pet dog.  The only difference is in their rehabilitation.


Managing Intestinal Parasites in the Athletic and Working Dog

A healthy dog is more likely to perform better and longer than an unhealthy dog.  A key component to health is proper parasite maintenance.  A parasite management program should be a part of any athletic and/or working dog’s normal health regimen.  These dogs have a greater potential for exposure to parasites than the household pet.  Their activities are also affected to a greater extent than the pet dog.


Achievement of Peak Performance Using the Tapering Method
Craig Angle ME.d, ME.d, ATC, CSCS

The goal of the taper is to optimize competition performance. Most studies dealing with progressive tapers in athletics have reported significant performance improvements. Sports scientists have found significant improvements in performance in both the laboratory and in the field.

Tapering Variations Utilized in Canine Competition
Robert L. Gillette, DVM, MSE

A lot of canine athletic and working events are not designed in this format.  They are set up as year-round activities with multiple peaks within the competitive season.   In this type of season, a variation on the fundamental tapering techniques can be employed.


Overtraining Syndrome
Craig Angle ME.d, ME.d, ATC, CSCS

A dog’s psychological drive pushes it to train or perform to its maximum physical abilities every time the dog enters practice or competition. When canine athletes train to their physical limit all the time, do not allow a dequate rest periods, and do not ingest the proper amount and ratios of nutrition, they can develop “Over Training Syndrome”. Overtraining syndrome is a common cause of decreased performance and illness in athletes. It is described as persistent decreases in performance with or without other accompanying physical or psychological symptoms despite two weeks of lighter training or complete rest.

Overreaching and Overtraining in Athletes
Craig Angle ME.d, ME.d, ATC,

An important problem in canine sports today lies in the training, competition, recovery, and rest cycle. The cycle consists of the amount and type of training stress, competition stress, recovery, and rest a canine athlete receives. An imbalance in the cycle in combination with non-athletic stress such as that experienced during travel, can lead to overreaching and eventually overtraining. Overreaching is an accumulation of athletic and non-athletic related stress that can develop into a short term (i.e. a few days to a few weeks) decrease in performance. Overtraining is an accumulation of athletic and non athletic related stress that causes a long term (i.e. a few weeks to a few months) decrease in performance, increase risk of injury, and increase risk of illness.


Hypothyroidism in the Athletic or Working Dog

Hypothyroidism is a disease that should be monitored in all athletic or working dogs.  It affects these dogs in a different manner than the normal pet population.  Most literature on hypothyroidism does not address the metabolic issues associated with this problem in highly active and highly driven dogs.  The etiology of hypothyroidism and its management is different in relation to athletic and working patients.


Soundness of the Athletic Dog

Soundness is one of the most important factors in canine performance.  The functions and activity of athletic dogs can be affected by low-grade unsoundness.  Diagnosing the performance related MuSk issues seen in athletic and working dogs that do not cause gait abnormality can be a great challenge to the general veterinary practitioner.  These problems could be treated or managed if they were identified, but their diagnosis is difficult.  A successful diagnostic history will help identify when the problem first surfaced, which area of anatomy is involved and the significance of the problem.  The first step in any performance workup is to identify the primary and, if present, any
secondary or tertiary problems.


Shoulder Problems of the Canine Athlete and Working Dog

The shoulder joint is a very complex area whose anatomical structure is different than the other joints of the appendicular skeleton.Lameness associated with the shoulder can be a diagnostic challenge when working on athletic dogs.  Most of these problems may not be observed in the general canine pet population.  Because of the close relationship between the handler and the canine athlete, slight joint abnormalities are identified.  The cause of these low grade and subclinical lameness’s are minimally understood by the general veterinary community.  It is not the purpose of this article to discuss the well-known orthopedic problems associated with the shoulder but to address the obscure and subclinical issues that are related to soundness of the shoulder area.


Diagnosing Stifle Problems Through Palpation: Part I

The canine stifle is a common location of injury.  In the minimally active pet dog most stresses and strains have a minimal affect on the dog’s life.  These same structural issues can have an enormous affect on the canine athlete or working dog.  For this reason injuries are identified in the highly active dog that are not commonly seen by the general practitioner nor described in the general veterinary literature.  An experienced sports medicine veterinary practitioner should be able to identify these obscure musculoskeletal faults using a competent palpation procedure and their clinical knowledge base.


Managing Skin Lesions of the Distal Limb

Injuries are especially common in the distal limb of field dogs.  It is important that the receiving Veterinarian understand the athleticism of the working dog and the special demands placed upon them.


Managing Exercise-Induced Medical Cases

As the athletic demands increase, there is a proportional increase in the physical demands placed upon the animal’s body. There are two scenarios of exercise induced medical problems. One is the case where a dog is involved in an activity that stresses the body’s metabolism past the point it can function.  The other case is where a specific activity that either exposes or causes a medical problem.

Basic Concepts of Canine Rehabilitation

Veterinary physical therapy is the process of reconditioning body tissues that have been injured or diseased to their previous state or to a manageable state.  Potential applications include recovery from medical cases, injuries, or post-surgical cases.  There are three factors to consider in designing rehabilitation regimen. These three areas of influence are the dog’s structure, physiology and psychology.  The concepts of rehabilitation can be applied to all species that are seen by the Veterinarian.


Feeding for Optimal Performance

A feeding program can be implemented that will optimize the ability of the athletic and working dog. The program can be designed to enhance available energy, allow for efficient energy metabolism and delay cellular fatigue.


Enhancing the Jumping Ability of the Dog

There are many activities that the dog performs that require the dog to jump.  Historically, jumping was not an action that was used very often in the dog’s daily activities.  This has changed over the past few decades.  Today, many canine competitions require the dog to do some form of jumping.  As a result, their jumping ability influences their ability to perform.  An understanding of the components of this action allows us to optimize the dog’s ability to jump.


Vital Signs of Athletic Dogs

The trained and conditioned canine athlete or working dog’s metabolism performs at a different level than the pet dog.  Some variation can be related to the breed of the dog, but a healthy, conditioned athletic dog can exhibit metabolic variants that have the potential to confuse the general practitioner or anyone not accustomed to these peculiarities.  Practitioners use a dog’s vital signs to give a brief overview of the dog’s general health status.  The vital sign measurements usually include body temperature (T), heart rate or pulse (HR, P) and respiration (R).  They are sometimes referred to as the dog’s TPR.  Having a normal temperature, resting heart rate, and resting respiratory rate are important indicators of good health.  It is therefore important to know TPR normals in highly trained, conditioned dogs.


Minimizing the Effects of Exercise on the Kidney

There are an ever increasing number of dogs participating in activities that range from light workouts to strenuous exercise.  These activities create an environment of metabolic stress. One system in charge of managing these stresses is the kidney and the rest of the urinary system. Understanding the basis of exercise-induced nephritis is important when developing a training regimen.   The best way to prevent kidney damage and impairment is to train and condition athletic and working dogs to perform the activities associated with their work or competition.


The Effects of Exercise on Scent and the Respiration in the Athletic and Working Dog

The respiratory system plays a vital role in maintaining metabolic balance during periods of work and exercise.  The respiratory system includes the nose, mouth, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchial tree and lungs.  The primary function of the respiratory system is to supply the blood with oxygen and remove carbon dioxide waste.  Exercise increases the need for oxygen and results in a carbon dioxide build-up.  The respiratory system also has many other functions in relation to the body’s metabolism.  In the dog, two important functions of the respiratory system include thermoregulation and scent recognition.  These functions play an important role in the performance of the athletic and working dog.


Diagnosing Stifle Problems Through Palpation: Part II

The stifle is a very complex structure.  The most common injury to this joint is rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), but its complexity predisposes it to numerous other injuries.  This article is a follow-up to the article titled Diagnosing Stifle Problems through Palpation: Part I, The Athletic and Working Dog Newsletter 5:3 pp 1-4 (2006).  Stifle anatomy and palpation of ACL rupture were discussed in that article.  This article will cover injuries of the other tissues.


Neuronal Factors of Canine Movement and Performance

The nervous system plays a very important role in the performance ability of the athletic and working dog.  It is a very complex system and thus understanding its role in performance is very complicated.  Certain actions are performed consciously and others are performed unconsciously.  The goal of any training program should be to prepare the dog’s motion skills to flow seamlessly during their activity or work.  It is best to keep conscious movement to a minimum.  The dog should be trained so that the basic movements occur naturally.  This allows for better focus when a conscious movement is needed.  The result is less stress placed upon the dog during its performance.


The Canine Workout Companion

A new area of veterinary sports medicine revolves around the dog as a workout companion.  This is a common scenario presented to the veterinary general practitioner.  There has not been a lot of reference material printed on the subject.  This article will try to address the pertinent information for use by the clinical practitioner.


Rear Leg Lameness: Two Similar Case Reports

Lameness can be defined as a variance from the normal gait or stance of an animal.  Lameness is not itself a disease but can be a sign of a disease process, pain, impediment, deformity or weakness.  There are usually multiple tissues or joints involved. This is especially true with chronic ongoing lameness. In these cases there is a primary problem with associated secondary, tertiary or quaternary problems. These can be very complex cases and may involve multiple visits to the Veterinarian before a true diagnoses is determined.  A diagnostic plan can help to simplify the work-up.  Two cases involving a rear-leg lameness are described to help demonstrate the process.

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