Believe it or not, owning a dog can come with a health warning! We see a variety of injuries at the clinic, derived from your oh-so-innocent four-legged friend.
Shoulder, wrist and elbow injuries being most common, through to sprained ankles and other slip trip incidents.
Our dog has an obsession for furry tree rats – and before we could physically say the word squirrel – she is off like a flash, and generally, that goes for most small furry animals that run away! If you are holding the lead when your dog bolts, unless you are prepared, your body is absorbing all the energy and force as they pull tight to a stop. So, it is not unusual to see painfully wrenched limbs as a result.
Off-road walking has its own risks, so if your dog is lucky enough to head up Leckhampton Hill or Cleeve Hill on a regular basis, there are some things to consider.
Rob Grace, chiropractor has some advice on sensible dog walking/ownership:
- Playful dogs have a habit of leaving toys and balls around the house and garden – perfectly placed to trip over. Move items when you see them – to save you or anyone else falling foul of the ball.
- Ball throwers can cause tennis elbow if over-used or used incorrectly, be careful that you don’t over-grip the handle and ensure you throw in a smooth action.
- When picking up your dog, always concentrate on lifting well (bending your knees) rather than just scooping them up quickly.
- If you assist your dog into the car – ensure you work with your dog to help them in, rather than taking the full weight yourself (usually involving lifting and twisting to a certain degree).
- Have a shorter lead with a large dog – if they do dash off on a long lead, there is more time for their speed to build, resulting in more energy and greater stress through the owner’s wrist/arm.
- Wear the right footwear – If you are off-road, wear sturdy shoes with good grip and even in the summer avoid sandals or flip-flops as tripping becomes a hazard on uneven ground.
- Try not to walk with your hands in your pockets – again this can be dangerous with regards to tripping, you may end up with a more serious injury if you don’t break your fall with your arm/hand.
- In cold weather, ensure you stay warm, but in clothes you can move freely in/walk normally. More importantly that you don’t hunch up through the shoulders, this can give you shoulder/neck stiffness.
- Concentrate – texting/looking at your phone on the move never ends well – especially on uneven ground. If you are alert, you can react to a situation faster and potentially avoid any trip injuries.
- Is your dog a train or well trained? If your dog constantly pulls (and is a larger breed), it may be worth considering some training as the position you are ‘pulled’ into on a walk can put unnecessary strain through your body (arm, should, back or hips).
- If you run with your dog, ensure you hold the lead in a way you are able to swing your arms as normal, or at least swap sides regularly, otherwise you may end up running with a slight stiffness down one side or an uneven gait.