Treating canine athletes: Quick tips for the general veterinary practitioner

June 29, 2019

Repetitive injuries mean lots of veterinary care for canine athletes and lots of interaction with this specific breed of dog owner. Lucky for you, they make great partners on the path to better patient care.

Win big with these tips the next time you see a canine athlete in your practice. (ksuksa / stock.adobe.com)There are many advantages for general veterinary practitioners in treating canine athletes and working dogs. For one, they're owned by clients who've invested a significant amount of time, emotion, effort and money into raising, training, and working or competing with their canine partners. These clients want the absolute best care and best outcomes for their dogs, creating an opportunity to practice state-of-the-art medicine.

Many of these clients are highly compliant and will do exactly as you say. In fact, they long for a veterinarian to listen to them and give them recommendations to improve the healing process; they want to be involved.

Here are a few tips for general practitioners who find themselves treating canine athletes, courtesy of David Dycus, DVM, MS, CCRP, DACVS-SA, an orthopedic surgeon in Annapolis Junction, Maryland. 

Always, always listen

Never blow off a “sound dog” when the owner or handler says that something is off. Many times these owners may think that we believe they're crazy. Many of them get blown off by other veterinarians. This is the fastest way to lose a client-and these clients are very vocal to other pet owners.

Take it slow

To find many of the injuries that afflict a canine athlete, a more comprehensive orthopedic and rehabilitation examination is needed. Rushing through an orthopedic examination will likely miss the issue (psst, don't forget about the toes!).

Ask the owner ...

Remember, these dog owners know their dog better than anyone else does. The great thing is, they tend to film everything-so if they have a film of their dog running an event or during periods of pathology, make sure to watch it.