Pilates For Dogs

Is your dog a sports lover who relishes agility, flyball, freestyle, or disc dog competition? Or is she more of a couch potato? Perhaps she’s getting on a bit in years? Then your dog could benefit from a proactive approach to injury prevention. That’s where core conditioning—or Pilates—for dogs comes into the picture. In humans, Pilates exercises improve posture, balance, coordination, and range of motion, reduce back pain, alleviate tension, and reduce injuries. Similar exercises can do much the same for dogs. In addition to roll over, down dog (bow), and spin, one of the best exercises for canine core conditioning is the classic sit up and beg position (not advisable for Dachshunds or dogs with back problems). With all these, the trick is to start slowly and gradually build duration and flexibility. To learn more, search YouTube for “pilates for dogs” or buy a book or DVD with instructions.

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Pronounced “try ball,” this fun new dog sport was born in Germany in the mid-2000s when a Dutch hunting and herding dog trainer, Jan Nijboer, wondered if he could teach high-energy dogs to play soccer. The game boils down to getting your dog (or a team of dogs) to push large exercise balls across a field into a goal. While herding-type dogs and dogs who love chase games are natural Treibball contenders, dogs of any age and breed can take part. As with all dog sports, some foundational skills are important. For Treibball, it’s an advantage if your dog knows sit, down, left, right, and object targeting. Playing the game is simple. Arrange eight exercise balls (some play with fewer) in a triangle in the center of your field and set up kid-sized soccer goals or mark the goal zone with orange traffic cones. The dogs—with handlers using commands like

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4 Ways To Keep Your Senior Dog Healthy

Regular vet check-ins. This is the gospel throughout your dog’s life, but extra important in those golden years. Twice-annual exams is a good rule of thumb; more for dogs with known health issues. Between visits, look out for changes in your dog’s appetite, irritability level, or trouble hearing or seeing. Injury prevention. Provide ramps and stairs to give your dog easy access to furniture and beds. Consider carpeting slippery floors to give old paws solid footing. Age-appropriate diet. Dietary needs change with age. Some dogs gain weight; others can’t hold on to theirs. Consult your vet about adjusting your dog’s diet for optimal health. Sleep therapy. Consider investing in an orthopedic dog bed especially for seniors. Memory foam helps cushion aging joints—some beds even have heat and vibration functions.

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Cycling With Your dog

Think cycling and dogs don’t mix? That depends. Yes, just holding a leash while riding a bike is a bad idea—one sudden dog move and you’re down. But if you love to ride and would like to share the road with your dog, you have other options. One is a specialized bike leash with a shock-absorbing spring device. A steel clamp attaches to the seat or frame of your bike, with a spring arm for the leash that reduces the impact of a dog’s sudden movements by as much as 90%. To find one, just search online for “bicycle leash.” For longer trips—or smaller, less athletic dogs—a better option is one of the many carriers or trailers on the market. Essentially a dog-ifi ed take on the child trailer, these contraptions have reinforced bases that increase stability and safety. Just do your homework and make sure you pick the best

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Dry Eye, Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS)

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), better known as “dry eye,” is a common eye condition in dogs. Any dog can develop dry eye, but dogs with big, buggy eyes, such as Pugs, Lhasa Apsos, Pekingese, Boston Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, and English Bulldogs, are extra susceptible. Symptoms include irritation, goopy discharge, excessive blinking, swollen eyelids, and corneal color changes. The condition, which can have numerous causes, results in an inability to produce enough tears to provide nutrients and oxygen to the precorneal tear fi lm. The good news is that most of these causes can be treated on an outpatient basis, often with a topical antibiotic or corticosteroid. The less-good news is that there’s no cure for most causes of dry eye, so your dog will need ongoing treatment. Remember, the first thing to do about any eye-related problem in your dog is to call the vet. Eyes are too sensitive and vulnerable

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