The No.1 and No.2 common injury factors for puppies - it's not just about hips and elbows!

1: GROWTH 

Your puppy's skeleton is made up of 320+ bones (+1 for the boys) and some bones have as many as five (5) growth plates. The more ridges/planes and different dimensions, the more growth plates - the best examples are the large, flat bones of the skull, shoulder blades and pelvis and the multi-dimensional vertebrae. This means that over 700+ growth plates must develop / mature and close perfectly in order for your puppy to have a strong body that will support him for his entire life! 

Did you know that the major joints (neck / shoulders / elbows / spine / hips / stifles and hocks) are made up of several bones, all with multiple growth plates that do NOT develop and close at the same time? IT'S TRUE!

While puppy's skeleton is growing, so are his muscles, tendons and ligaments - but not at the same time or in the same region as the bones they are attached to (bones grow FIRST / soft tissue SECOND

This means that, following a growth spurt, your puppy's muscles/tendons and ligaments are struggling to control and support bones which are incrementally too long on one side of a joint (until the soft tissue completes its own growth phase to catch up to the bones). This asymmetrical development causes your puppy to be off kilter in one region of his body or another until he is 18 - 24 months of age!

So, what does all this mean to your puppy? Growth = Imbalance = risk of Injury

Joints are unstable until all the growth plates on both sides AND the bones (which form the levers for movement) have finished developing and can cope with the sheer force applied to them by the large muscle groups as puppy moves. 

Take shoulders for example: until both the Humerus and Scapulae are finished growing (at approx. 10 months of age) the force of the Triceps, Deltoid, and shoulder muscles pulling the limbs into action (running, jumping, turning and braking) can disrupt the new cells as bones develop and fill in! This is especially important to know since dogs do not have the structural stability of a ball & socket joint / rotator cuff to keep the shoulder/forelimb attached to the axial skeleton - the only thing keeping your puppy's front limbs functional and safe are the connective soft tissue, muscles and tendons. Also, note: dogs do not have a clavicle (aka: collar bone) nor the strength that the associated ligaments would provide

Iliopsoas/spinal vertebrae connection: puppy's spinal vertebrae are not closed until 18 months and the top of the pelvic bone is still developing until 2 YEARS of age!

Why is this significant? Think of all the attention "groin" (aka: Iliopsoas) strains are getting - this muscle group is located in the most mobile section of the dog's body (lower back) and is attached to the sections of the skeleton which take the longest to develop and fully mature!

Planning age appropriate levels of activity and exercise will ensure that puppy is not doing too much too soon and will grow into a body that is able to support him during activity - not be damaged by it.

2: EXERCISE

Exercise as an injury factor? Not just from falling / jumping / running too far/too long. We're talking about physiological changes: how exercise affects muscle strength / endurance and flexibility - bones and soft tissue do not respond to exercise stress the same way

The body's first physical response to exercise is to saturate the heart and MUSCLES with extra blood to provide them with the extra nutrients they need to cope with the stress. More blood flowing in will increase muscle mass (much the same way a sponge gets larger when it absorbs water) and makes the muscle bigger and more capable.

Muscular response can be rapid - people see changes in muscle tone and make the incorrect assumption that this is good for puppy. Increased muscle must be desirable, right? Wrong...Muscles are not the only factor to consider - the ligaments that connect bone to bone and the tendons which connect muscle to bone don't respond to exercise as fast as muscle will. This means that the muscles can OVERDEVELOP in relation to the tendons and ligaments and, due to their pure power, will cause micro-strains as they are stretched beyond their capacity during activity! Now your puppy has tiny centers of scar tissue which are inflexible and create weakness.

This explains why puppy comes up lame for "no reason" - connective tissues are overworked, and over time creates imbalanced, compensatory movement and finally...injury

"Development not Destruction"

When you engage puppy's brain you are stimulating the Central Nervous System which controls coordination! This will enhance self-confidence, improve learning capabilities and enrich mental health AND reduce the risk of  injuries!

1.  Danger of sticks


Say NO to sticks!

Playing fetch with sticks can harm dogs!...
Pet owners should not throw sticks for dogs as they can cause horrific injuries and even death!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/Playing-fetch-with-sticks-can-…

A couple of pretty horrific injuries to dogs caused by sticks. Even splinters in the mouth that go unnoticed can become infected causing suffering to the dog and maybe even death. With so many safer toys available on the market for dogs to play with.... please say NO to sticks.

Put your Vet’s phone number in your mobile phone if you don’t have it there already.



2. Bloat in Dogs




3. Chocolate Danger 


Please remember DO NOT give any chocolate to your dog(s) unless it is chocolate specifically made for pets! Chocolate made for human consumption can be extremely harmful to dogs. 

Dogs are known for eating things when they are not supposed to. This is especially true of puppies. Also, dogs have an excellent sense of smell, making it fairly easy to find any secret hiding spots for the chocolate. (Remember this if you’re organizing and Easter egg hunt at home)

  Chocolate is derived from the roasted seeds of Theobroma cacao, which contains certain properties that can be toxic to animals: caffeine and theobromine. If ingested, these two ingredients can also lead to various medical complications and may even prove fatal for your dog!

Different chocolate types have different theobromine levels. Cocoa, cooking chocolate and dark chocolate contain the highest levels, while milk chocolate and white chocolate have the lowest. If you’re dealing with any quantity of dark or bitter chocolate, err on the side of caution. The high level of theobromine in dark chocolate means it takes only a very small amount to poison a dog. Less than an ounce (28gms) of dark chocolate may be enough to poison a 44lb (20kgs) dog!



4. Dogs die in hot cars!


If you find a dog in a car on a warm or hot day and you cannot locate the owner the RSPCA say that you should call the Police on 999.  Never leave your dog alone in a car, even for a few minutes.  The RSPCA point out that “when it is 22C/72F outside, the temperature inside a car can soar to 47C/117F within 60 minutes!!”  They also note that dogs can die from heatstroke in just 20 minutes, and cars can become ovens fast, in sunny weather. Putting a bowl of water inside the car and leaving the windows partially open doesn’t help!


To help keep your dogs cool on hot days you can:


Exercise your dog in the cooler times of the day, rather than the hottest.

Groom your dog regularly to remove excess hair.

 Take water out with you on warm and hot days and stop in a shady spot to allow your dog a drink.

 Always ensure your dog has the ability to move into a shady, cooler spot, inside or outdoors.

 When travelling with your dog be prepared for traffic/motorway delays...Take regular breaks and keep a good supply of water in the car for you and your dog.

 Never leave your dog in a glass conservatory or caravan, however shady or cloudy it is when you set out!


Dogs are susceptible to heatstroke if they cannot reduce their body temperature.  If your dog show signs of heatstroke they should be moved to a cool shaded area and a vet called for advice.  You can help reduce your dogs body temperature by using a spray on your dog filled with cool not cold water, put your dog in the breeze of a fan or put your dog in a shower and gently run cool water over him/her.


Signs of heatstroke


*heavy panting

*profuse salivation

 *a rapid pulse

 *very red gums/tongue

 *lethargy

 *lack of coordination

 *reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing

 *Vomiting & diarrhoea

 *loss of consciousness in extreme circumstances