published Monday, July 30th, 2012

Protecting pets from exercise-related injuries

  • photo
    Cats and dogs can sustain injuries similar to athletes.
    Photo by Contributed Photo

With the 2012 Summer Olympic Games under way in London, many Americans are watching our nation’s top athletes go for the gold.

Petplan, a company that insures nearly 100,000 dogs and cats in the United States, wants pet parents to know that just like athletes, pets can sustain exercise-related injuries. According to a news release, the company found the most common injuries in athletes closely resemble the most common injuries in pets.

Orthopedic injuries are the conditions that most often appear in Petplan’s Top 20 claims. These include fractured bones and two common knee injuries: cruciate ligament tears (analogous to ACL injuries in humans) and luxated patellas (dislocated kneecaps).

Claims data from 2011 reveal exercise-related injuries are not only common but also expensive. Veterinary bills for treatment of cruciate injuries, for example, averaged $2,000 per incident, with some claims topping $6,000. Fractures averaged around $730.

“Most pet parents don’t realize that dogs and cats can suffer some of the same serious injuries as human athletes,” said Dr. Jules Benson, vice president of veterinary services for Petplan. “Although medium- and large-breed dogs are more prone to cruciate problems in particular, pet parents of every breed should monitor their pets closely and keep them physically fit in an effort to avoid this and other health problems.”

Benson, vice president of veterinary services at Petplan, offers the following tips to help protect pets.

• Stay fit and trim. The extra pounds potbellied pooches and chunky kitties carry around make them more prone to orthopedic injury. Keeping pets at a healthy weight can help relieve undue pressure on their joints and hind legs.

• Pay attention to limping. Catching an injury immediately after it occurs can be crucial to your pet’s recovery. If you spot any lameness or notice your pet not wanting to play as usual, call your vet for a checkup.

• Warm up wisely: Pets can’t stretch their muscles, so a preworkout warm-up is essential. Start slow, taking short and easy walks before you accelerate your pet’s training regimen.

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