Most dog lovers worry about the weak ligaments of their pets. Often large breeds or those whose articular-ligamentous apparatus are subject to regular heavy loads (athletes, show actors) suffer from joint instability. The question arises: how to strengthen the joints and ligaments of the dog? First of all, no training without a thorough warm-up. Joints should be loaded gradually. Do not limit the dog to just walking as needed. Your pet needs an active and mobile lifestyle. Special gymnastics for joints, massage, training to strengthen the articular-ligamentous apparatus are no less important than proper nutrition, vitamins to strengthen bones, joints and ligaments.
The content of the article:
- 1. The structure of the articular-ligamentous apparatus (types of joints) of the dog
- 2. Cause of Decreased Joint Mobility in Dogs
- 3. Why are ligaments injured in dogs
- 4. Which dogs need to strengthen their joints
- 5. How to strengthen your dog’s ligamentous apparatus
- 6. Types of loads to strengthen the joints and ligaments of the dog
- 7. Examples of exercises
- 8. Exercise Safety
- 9. Dog training videos
The structure of the articular-ligamentous apparatus (types of joints) of the dog
The articular-ligamentous apparatus of the dog has a rather complex structure.
Joints consist of a surface, a capsule and a cavity and differ in shape and structure. Their difference depends on which part of the body they are located in. They are divided into simple (shoulder, hip), complex (carpal, tarsal), combined (ulnar), complex (temporomandibular, knee) – according to their number and characteristics; one axial (ulnar, carpal, metacarpophalangeal, interphalangeal, tarsal), two axial (knee), multi-axial (shoulder, hip) – according to the number of rotation axes. Joint mobility depends on the sex and age of the dog. The greatest activity is in young females. It is very important for the dog’s body that the joint is agile, but without the hypermobility that occurs when the ligaments are overstretched. With such a malfunction of the ligaments, the joint is not supported properly, which leads to complications of the limbs. Ligaments play a strengthening function for the joint and are divided into retaining and guiding. By location – extracapsular, capsule, intracapsular. Ligaments are joint stabilizers. The “life” of the joints depends on their structure and structure..
Cause of Decreased Joint Mobility in Dogs
Joint activity is influenced by multiple factors. There are many reasons for the decline in joint mobility:
- One of the reasons that affect joint mobility is excess weight. Most owners do not think that by overfeeding their pet, they do great harm. If the pet’s ribs are not palpable, it is worth putting him on a diet and bringing the weight in line with the standards.
- Increased activity (usually in champion dogs and small dogs with increased mobility) accelerates joint wear. Due to hyperactivity, the musculoskeletal system does not always have time to recover and brings the four-legged friend to the risk zone.
- Congenital pathologies.
- Severe injuries. During the rehabilitation period, it is necessary to minimize the load, gradually increasing and making it possible to gradually restore joint mobility.
- Insufficient formation or incorrect distribution of muscle mass.
- Elderly age. It is very important to monitor your dog’s health from puppyhood to old age. Joint complications only increase over the years.
Why are ligaments injured in dogs
Dogs are inherently very active. For this reason, they are injured much more often than other pets. Both large and small breeds suffer from their increased activity. An important role in the development of ligament injuries in dogs is played by heredity. The majority of breeders do not pay attention to the frailty of connective tissue in breeding dogs. Also, in an unprepared animal, an injury to the musculoskeletal system is likely to cause a sharp load. It is necessary to strengthen training gradually, achieving the proper elasticity and plasticity of the ligaments.
- Dog car injuries are typical situations especially in big cities.
- Fights with individuals of the same species. In fights, damage to health can be quite varied, directly dependent on the hostility and size of the participants. As usual, the result is injuries to the legs, sometimes muscles, accompanied by bleeding of varying severity.
- Falling from hills, from flimsy steps, or simply unable to resist on a slippery surface, dogs more often than usual break their legs or get sprains.
Which dogs need to strengthen their joints
It is necessary to monitor the condition of the joints in all dogs, starting with puppies. But it is especially important to strengthen the joints of athletic dogs, due to an overly active regime of exercise, they are under the threat of injury, since the musculoskeletal system does not always have time to return to normal. Also at risk are small but very mobile dogs, companion dogs, show dogs and elderly individuals. Elderly dogs include individuals over 10 years old. A special mode should be selected for them. It should include daily walks 2-3 times with a duration of 15 minutes, depending on the state of health and mood of the ward. They should be carried out in the morning and evening hours. Heat is exhausting for older dogs.
How to strengthen your dog’s ligamentous apparatus
In order to strengthen the articular-ligamentous apparatus of the dog, it is necessary:
- adjusting the dog’s balanced diet;
- the use of specialized supplements;
- physical training; physiotherapy (massage, swimming, gymnastics charters);
- strength training that strengthens ligaments and tendons; static dynamics aimed at intensity in the motor range;
- complex classes to improve the condition of joints and ligaments, designed for the age scale and general well-being of the dog’s body;
- preventive examinations at the veterinarian and the delivery of tests; comfortable place to relax, not subject to drafts;
- love and care of the owner.
Types of loads to strengthen the joints and ligaments of the dog
To strengthen and guarantee the stability of the joints, the dog must have sufficient muscle development in the hind legs, back and part of the muscles of the shoulder girdle. In order for the muscle “bandage” to adequately protect the joints and ligaments, it is recommended to walk with the dog competently.
Most may find it funny, but the correct formation of muscles is affected by whether the pet walks on a leash or without it. This state of affairs is explained quite simply. An animal free from a leash independently chooses the pace of movement, loading itself to a minimum. Dogs are very rational in their actions and movements. Therefore, do not be lazy and periodically walk your pet on a leash at a relatively fast trot.
To improve blood circulation in the joints, practice aerobic activities (swimming, running, walking) every two days, alternating between them. More often not recommended. Take your dog’s pulse from time to time. After loading, it should not exceed 30%, in comparison with the state of rest. In case of deviations, undergo an ultrasound of the heart.
Strength training strengthens ligaments and tendons.
Examples of exercises
Exercises to strengthen the dog’s hind legs
There are many exercises to strengthen your dog’s hind legs.
The stand on the hind legs is performed by the order “serve.” To get your pet to stand on its hind legs, motivate it with your favorite treat. Increase the standing time step by step. Jumping upward can be provoked by tossing a toy or a piece of dog food. Running up the stairs is great for strengthening the dog’s hind legs. A staircase in a park or a high-rise building is suitable for this exercise. Spend the lesson in the form of a game. Throw the ball up the stairs and ask for it. Squat upright with a small stool under the front legs no higher than the dog’s elbow. The hind legs should be on a low, flimsy surface. The dog is required to sit down without removing the front paws from the dais. In this case, the muscles of the hind legs are tense as much as possible. This exercise perfectly strengthens the muscles of the dog’s hind legs.
German shepherds deserve special attention because of their health characteristics. Regardless of age, representatives of this breed often have problems with the musculoskeletal system. To strengthen the hind limbs of the German Shepherd, the dog’s diet should contain cottage cheese and other fermented milk products, raw meat, vegetables, gelatin. Youngsters need to provide sparing physical activity. Under no circumstances should you overfeed, despite your age.
Strengthening the dog’s front legs
To strengthen the forelimbs, the dog should be encouraged to do push-ups. The dog is in a standing position, and you pull it down with bait and pull the treat along the floor from the dog, not allowing it to lie down.
The front limbs are well strengthened by feeding the paws from a prone position. By lifting the elbow off the floor, the pet works out the shoulder perfectly. We alternate paws. With the help of a toy or a treat, we encourage you to stand on your hind legs, as vertical as possible in relation to the floor. The dog stands with its front paws on the table, and at the command “Hide”, puts its head between the table and the croup, thus sagging on its front legs.
Exercises to strengthen your dog’s back muscles
Swimming is an excellent combination method for improving the condition of the back muscles. You can enhance the effect during training in a water treadmill. You can also strengthen your muscles with kinesiotherapy. It does not provide for additional accessories. The described method is based on urging the dog to bend and balancing on loose surfaces. Muscle tissue acquires not only strength, but also elasticity.
Electrical stimulation is used to increase endurance and restore strength in weakened atrophied muscles..
Exercise to strengthen the pastern
Not all dog owners attach great importance to the condition of the pastern, which acts as a shock absorber for the dog. A healthy regular metacarpus (or hock joint) in most breeds has a small but well-defined angle relative to the forearm. The role of this angle is to soften the push from a step or jump on the shoulder blade.
Most dogs are mature by the age of two. And a soft pastern at this age is not a cause for concern. Thus, nature protects the puppy from malformed joints as the dog grows up. You should not try to strengthen the ligaments and reduce their elasticity until the dog is fully formed. With proper care, everything comes back to normal by the time you grow up. But the pasterns should be protected from infancy. The growing pet should be provided with a full-fledged calcified food and special supplements and vitamins. The puppy is not recommended to constantly walk on slippery surfaces (linoleum, parquet, laminate). Walking over small pebbles or gravel is necessary to strengthen the pastern. The owner is obliged to protect the growing pet from excessive loads during games, jumping from an impressive height. At a tender age, the dog’s paws are not yet strong, which can provoke injuries. This is especially true for large breeds..
There are a few things to consider before starting to train your dog and exercise.
First of all, check the condition of your pet. You may not be aware that the disease is progressing at this time, and do not pay attention to the symptoms until the dog collapses from a sharp attack of pain.
If classes are held indoors, make sure there are no slippery surfaces to avoid injury.
Avoid overworking your dog. Aerobic exercise is given to the dog no more often than 1 time 2 days. Walking should be monotonous, in the same rhythm, on a short leash, for at least 1 hour – if you do not adhere to these rules, such training will not be considered an aerobic exercise.
Forcing your dog to run long distances on a daily basis is not recommended. Find cushioning surfaces for running – and shouldn’t be longer than 15 minutes. It is prohibited to run on the asphalt paths!
As for swimming, the maximum time for monotonous swimming is 10 minutes.
Warm up and stretch your dog. Stretching – increases the range of motion, reduces pain. It is of 2 types: active and passive. Do not forget that when stretching the shoulder, it is strictly forbidden to bring the paw to the side and sharply up, it is recommended that the toes look towards the nose – that is, the paw is pulled slightly to the center. Do not give the dog pain while stretching, stop at the moment when you run into resistance, hold in this position for a few seconds and release. Stretching is done after warming up so as not to harm the dog. If the warm-up takes place before the workout, then the stretching is after the workout and can be a hitch.
Be attentive and caring towards your four-legged friend!