Activities For Dogs With Elbow Dysplasia

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Introduction

Large breed dogs that frequently suffer from leg lameness may be suffering from elbow dysplasia. Elbow dysplasia is considered an orthopedic condition. It occurs in both puppies and dogs. The elbow in a canine is made up of three bones, the fibula, humerus, and tibia. The bones join and form a hinge. The hinge allows the leg below to extend and flex. When an abnormal formation of the joint develops, it is known as a dysplasia. The dysplasia can be caused by birth abnormalities, arthritis, injury, or degenerative joint diseases. Over time, a canine that suffers from elbow dysplasia will suffer a variety of serious range of motion problems. There are activities which can improve elbow dysplasia and reduce the canine's discomfort. 

Swimming

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Any Day
Free
Normal
30 min
Items needed
Flotation Devices
Canine Life Vest
Activity description
In the water, your dog floats which alleviates the weight on your canine's elbows. Your dog can freely move and feel less discomfort. Swimming in a pool is a wonderful activity for any canine suffering from elbow dysplasia. The activity will involve your participation. It is important that the swimming take place in a pool or lake where there is no current to fight. During the entire process, offer encouragement. If your dog starts to show signs of slowing or discomfort, it is time to call it a day and let your pooch leave the water. You do not want to overdo the activity.
Step
1
Gearing up
Many dogs have never worn a life vest and they may balk at having to put one on. However, you should get your pooch used to the feel of the life vest before ever entering the water. Strap it on your dog and give lots of praise. Treats are also beneficial to convincing your dog that wearing the life vest is not all bad. After a few practice sessions, your companion will put the vest on without hesitation.
Step
2
Water time
Slowly lower your dog into the water and gradually walk from the shallow area into the deep water. Your dog's life vest will naturally lift your pooch up so the that your canine's feet are no longer touching. At this time, most dogs start to swim automatically. In some rare cases, a dog may need to physically be encouraged to move all four legs.
Step
3
Treading water
Hold your dog's collar while they tread water. Offer words of encouragement. You can even lightly guide your dog around the pool or lake. After treading water, help your pooch to leave the pool or lake. The swim will have provided a nice, gentle exercise, leaving your pup restful and feeling good.
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Water Treadmill

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Any Day
Expensive
Hard
30 min
Items needed
Canine Underwater Treadmill
Activity description
An underwater treadmill is a complicated hydration therapy device. It is a specially designed box that features a waterproof treadmill. The canine is walked into the box and onto the treadmill. As the dog walks on the treadmill, the box slowly fills with water. The water helps lift and float the dog as they walk across the treadmill. It is a superb exercise activity that a dog with elbow dysplasia can easily undergo without suffering excessive pain. Some veterinarians offer underwater treadmills. Owners can also purchase the expensive devices for at home workouts. Most of the underwater treadmills boast jets that create not only water resistance, but also massage.
Step
1
The familiarity phase
Many dogs balk at being locked in the water treadmill so you will need to get your pooch used to the device. Let your dog sniff it and explore the various crevices. Most likely you will be trying the treadmill out at the veterinarian's or at a facility that offers physical therapy; in these cases, there will be staff who can assist you in getting your dog used to the treadmill.
Step
2
Walking the treadmill
The staff member will walk your dog into the treadmill box and let them simply get used to walking the treadmill. At this stage, you need to offer ample encouragement. The knowledgeable staff will not overdo this step because your dog's elbows may become sore without the benefit of the water therapy.
Step
3
Water activation
At this stage it is time for the water to start filling the treadmill box. Your pooch may enjoy the feel of the fluid around their body. Offer words of encouragement. Soon the treadmill will be full of water and your dog will naturally feel a dramatic decrease in pressure on the joints as the water lifts and soothes. The workout will become considerably easier in the water treadmill.
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Stretching

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Any Day
Free
Easy
15 min
Items needed
Treats
Activity description
A combination of stretching with massage is a daily activity that you can undertake with your pooch. When a dog suffers from elbow dysplasia they can become sore and stiff from not moving. Encouraging mild joint movements of the hips and shoulders will help keep them limber despite the discomfort that they might be experiencing from their elbow condition. The stretching and massage therapy activity is also a way to bond with your pooch because it is relaxing for both of you. As your furry buddy does each exercise, provide a treat for a job well done. Just remember to not overdo it when it comes to the elbows. If your dog starts to flinch or pull away in discomfort then you should cease the activity. Before beginning any exercise program, verify the movements that will be done with your veterinarian.
Step
1
Hip stretch
Have your dog stand beside you. Gently grasp the back leg just above the knee. Move the leg back until it is straight with your dog's back. Hold the leg in the position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat the process on the other back leg. If your dog does not object, then you can do this exercise two or three times.
Step
2
Shoulder stretches
Grasp your dog's front leg just above the elbow. Use your other hand to support and stabilize the elbow. Now move the leg forward. Remember, you are not moving his sore elbow but instead moving his shoulders. Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat the process on the dog's other side.
Step
3
Chest stretch
Lay your dog down on their back. Grasp the dog's front legs near the wrists and gently spread them out to the side. Hold the position for several seconds. Remember, you are not bending the dog's elbows, only flexing the chest and shoulder muscles. The elbows should suffer no discomfort.
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More Fun Ideas...

Nose Work

If your dog is suffering from elbow dysplasia, then they may not be able to play conventional games like fetch; however, all canines yearn to play. You should focus on fun, low physical impact games that work your dog's mind more than the body. Nose work is a great way to encourage your furry friend to move around indoors without overdoing it. Hide a few select tasty treats in a room and encourage your dog to find the food delicacies. If you do not want to use food as an incentive, you can hide a favorite toy and then tell your dog to find the beloved stuffie or ball. Remember that the motive to this activity is to make your dog enjoy a sense of play while stimulating the mind.

Water Massage

You do not need a pool to enjoy this activity. Simply run a warm bath for your dog. Sit in the bathtub with your pooch and gently massage the dog's entire body. Everyone enjoys a warm and relaxing bath, and most dogs will also relish the experience with adequate practice. Remember to not push the situation. If your canine is not comfortable in a bathtub full of water then only fill it partially full. You can always add water as your dog relaxes and starts to enjoy the experience. Some people add veterinary approved essential oils that they feel help a dog's joints, to the bath water.

Conclusion

Elbow dysplasia rarely gets better on its own, even with exercise. Often an owner must seek surgical intervention to relieve the pet's discomfort. Luckily, surgery is a viable option for treating the condition. After the surgery, many dogs will need to undergo rehabilitation. The above activities are great for a canine who suffers from elbow dysplasia pre or post surgery. Dogs are just like people and do not like to be in pain all the time. They can start feeling depressed and lethargic. Planning fun and fulfilling activities may only moderately help your canine's physical problems but they will definitely improve your dog's disposition and outlook on life.