Purina & Sports Medicine vets collaborate to help canine athletes

Researchers and veterinarians came together at the recent Purina Canine Sports Medicine Symposium to discuss canine athlete health and veterinary sport medicine

Our knowledge about veterinary support medicine and our ability to help canine athletes are getting a boost thanks to the Purina Canine Sports Medicine Symposium.

The symposium, which was held September 30 to October 1, 2016, at Purina Farms in Gray Summit, Miss., brought together 30 top veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation specialists from across the country. This group shared ideas, presented the latest research, and brainstormed innovative ways to work together to help canine athletes and improve veterinary sport medicine. The group also shared ideas with Purina veterinarian and research scientists, and took part in panel discussions with competitors of the Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge National Finals and AKC Master National Retriever event, which coincided with the symposium. They offered competitors tips on nutrition, training and conditioning, and rehabbing from injuries.

“Purina has been a proud partner of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation since its inception,” said event coordinator RuthAnn Lobos, DVM, CCRT, Purina senior veterinary communications manager. “It’s exciting to witness new relationships being formed as a result of the symposium, with great discussions and provocative questions being asked and a laser focus on increasing the level of care of canine athletes and active pet dogs.”

At the symposium, researchers and veterinarians discussed the following:

  • How the use of technology on smartphones allows the recording of a dog’s performance and gaiting movement. Playing this back in slow motion is a helpful diagnostic tool to detect signs of pain as well as to monitor a dog’s progress after surgery and rehabilitation;
  • How thermal imaging can be used to detect inflammation in soft-tissue structures and compensatory muscular activity. Bruising, infections, frostbite, and harness rubbing are visual as well;
  • How regenerative medicine using platelet-rich plasma and stem-cell therapy as a multimodal treatment combined with rehabilitation therapy can treat soft-tissue injuries from repetitive forces on tendons and ligaments
  • How to support older working dogs with nutrition. Targeted nutrients that can make a difference include omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil to promote joint health and mobility, and medium-chain triglycerides, when added to the daily diet of dogs 7 and older, to promote alertness and mental sharpness;
  • The importance of having a specialized plan for the rehabilitation of canine athletes and active dogs depending on their sport or activity and level of competition. Owners of sporting dogs commonly are fully involved in their dog’s recovery process, so it is helpful to give them specific at-home exercises with details about duration, frequency and intensity.

Researchers also shared findings of a randomized, prospective clinical trial of 48 dogs. Wendy Baltzer, DVM, PhD, DACVS, DACVSMR, CCRP, associate professor of Small Animal Surgery and director of Canine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation at Oregon State University in Corvallis, reported that feeding Purina® Pro Plan® Veterinary Diets JM Joint Mobility® Canine Formula in conjunction with rehabilitation had a positive effect on dogs recovering after surgery for cranial cruciate ligament injury. “We found that the combination of this diet and rehabilitation helped to improve the force dogs exerted on the affected limb, compared to dogs in other study groups,” she said. “JM is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein.”

The research, which was funded by Purina, will be published in January 2017 in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

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