Canine sports medicine and rehabilitation is the newest specialty in veterinary medicine. It encompasses and integrates a variety of fields, including orthopedics, exercise physiology, neurology, cardiology, pulmonology, nutrition, and others. Rehabilitation, which includes conditioning, maintaining, and regaining fitness, is a critical partner to canine sports medicine. Canine athletes include dogs that compete in performance events as varied as agility trials, obedience trials, and disc dog competitions, as well as working dogs such as police/military dogs, search and rescue dogs, and assistance dogs for the disabled. Canine sports medicine and rehabilitation professionals play a pivotal role in helping canine athletes and working dogs recover after injury or illness. They work to prevent reinjury while moving the patient back to a state of muscular ability, endurance, coordination, balance, and flexibility that allows them to train and compete as well as or perhaps better than they did before. Understanding the physical activities that are involved in the different performance events and the jobs that working dogs perform is critical to devising targeted rehabilitation for sports/working dogs after injury or illness, and for retraining them to perform their specific duties. This is best accomplished by attending athletic/working dog training sessions and competitions.
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