I started doing agility with my Australian Kelpie Django about a year ago, and we both absolutely love it. It’s a lot of fun to observe dog agility, but it’s even more fun to participate with your dog.Agility is a great exercise for your dog! It reduces boredom, reinforces good behavior, and strengthens the bond between the handler and the dog. After countless hours of training, you become a team!So, are there any downsides to agility?Unfortunately, yes: injuries.
What Causes Agility-Related Dog Injuries?To better understand how the mentally and physically demanding sport of dog agility can affect your dog, let’s look at the average challenges each dog faces in the sport. Most courses have fifteen to twenty physical tasks (jumps, weaves, seesaws, etc.) that require the following actions:
- Quick turns
- Rapid descents
- Abrupt stops/starts
- Around one-third (31.8%) of the dogs experienced agility-related injuries.
- Just over a quarter of the injured dogs (27.6%) suffered more than one agility-related injury.
- Soft tissue strains, sprains, and bruising were the most frequently reported injuries.
- The toes, neck, back, and shoulders were the most affected areas.
- 50.5% of the injuries were mild (recovery required less than one month).
- 44.6% were severe injuries (recovery required two months or longer).
- Problems navigating bar jumps, A-frames, and dog walk obstacles were common causes of injuries.
- Dogs were at an increased risk of injury if they had a prior history of injuries or related issues.
How to Avoid Agility Injuries in Your DogOf course, the best thing for your dog is to avoid the injuries in the first place. Agility handlers look towards science to support their dogs (both competing and retired) and do so regularly.As we can see in the survey mentioned above, performance dogs tend to have more “wear and tear” since the sport places intense and recurring strain on their joints.That’s why high-quality joint supplements may not only help in the prevention of injuries and osteoarthritis but also slow and minimize the progression once osteoarthritis has developed. If you search for “sport dog supplements” or “dog joint supplements,” you’ll find dozens of options to choose from. So how’s a pet parent to know what’s the best choice for their pup?
How to Choose the Best Sport Dog SupplementFirst off, it’s important to know that agility dog supplements are considered nutraceuticals, not pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals are medicines you might get prescribed by a doctor or purchase over the counter. A nutraceutical is “any substance that is a food or part of a food and provides medical or health benefits.” That difference makes a pet parents’ supplement decision even harder since it means there is no federal regulation on the production and manufacturing of nutraceuticals. Without federal regulation, it’s vitally important for pet parents to make sure their agility dog supplement meets the highest standards of purity and quality.Once you feel comfortable with the quality of a supplement, it’s time to look at the ingredients more closely.
Which Ingredients Should Be in Agility Dog Supplements?Knowing which ingredients make up your sport dog supplement is critical for choosing the best supplement for your pup. Your agility dog’s supplement should contain naturally-sourced, bioavailable, and effective ingredients to give your dog the joint support they need.The most common and well-known ingredients are: