Shoulder Injuries – Part Two

Canine Anatomy Bones with NamesThere are a variety of problems that can predispose your pet to shoulder injuries. These can include such things as poor core strength, straight shoulder conformation, poor conditioning, rear leg injuries and other things.

Shoulder conformation is also known as “layback”. The front leg consists of the shoulder, elbow, carpus (wrist) and toes. The layback is the shoulder angle and it can be determined in the following way. (See photos below)

  1. Put your pet in a stacked position and make him stand symmetrically.
  2. Find the highest point on the shoulder blade.
  3. Find where the shoulder blade meets the humerus (upper arm).
  4. Lay a ruler between these points.
  5. The angle between this line and vertical is the layback.

The layback demonstrates the reach your pet has and how it can affect performance. Now jumping dogs can extend this reach slightly by using their mid back so a dog with too straight of an angle can eventually cause injuries along the spine or in the rear by compensating.

Now some breeds are very straight in the front and that doesn’t mean they can’t compete but it does mean that we need to have a very strong core to save their backs and you need to have a routine of stretching, strengthening and management so they can compete without injury.

The problem with a straight front is that you can get a minor injury which may not be seen or disappears quickly and a slight weakness sets in; this injury continues each time being slight with minute changes in the range of motion and flexibility. This leads to pain, decreased strength and endurance.

The way to treat this is with NSAIDs, cryotherapy (icing the area) for 10-15 minutes, laser therapy works well, and then we must increase the strength, stabilization, range of motion and flexibility.

Simple exercises such as flexion and extension help to increase the range of motion over a period of time – take this slow because we don’t want to hurt the pet and they refuse to let you do it again. Another great way to strengthen your pet’s shoulders is by using the FitPAWS equipment to help with balance and weight shifting.

Your rehabilitation veterinarian has more options for exercise so if your pet seems to be having an issue please see your veterinarian and then the rehab specialist.

Lily demonstrating the "layback". We are going from the top of the shoulder to the shoulder joint.

Lily demonstrating the “layback”. We are going from the top of the shoulder to the shoulder joint.

This is the line from the shoulder joint to the elbow.

This is the line from the shoulder joint to the elbow.


3 Responses to Shoulder Injuries – Part Two

  • Sarah says:

    This is really most enthralling. I volunteer you to do such articles for every single injury possibility on a dog!

  • Rene says:

    Great information here, that’s something I wasn’t aware of. Can you possibly do a follow-up post with one or two recommended exercises for minor shoulder injuries? Thanks!

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