Thursday, September 2, 2010

Video Blog: Exercises for Dogs with Spinal Problems

Cookie Stretches are one of the best exercises for dogs with spinal problems who are not experiencing acute pain or clinical signs. It has been well documented in man that these kinds of stretching exercises decrease the incidence of back and neck problems and the hope is that those results will carry over to our canine friends.

To start Cookie Stretches one stands behind the patient and stabilizes their pelvis. The idea is to prevent the dog from actually turning and rather stretch the back and neck tissues themselves. Once the pelvis is stable then the dog is encouraged to take a treat from one side then the other in a slow alternating manner. Dogs with back and neck problems will have very little mobility and will not be able to reach all the way back to their hips or tail but with time most dog's flexibility increases quite dramatically.

This is an excellent exercise to perform first thing in the morning before your dog goes out into the yard or for his first walk. As with most rehab exercises, it is best to perform this activity for a short period of time, i.e. a couple of minutes, rather than setting aside a long period of time considering the nature of the dog's attention span. Likewise these exercises are best performed multiple times per day rather than attempting a long single session per day.

Once a significant amount of flexibility is attained, more advanced stretching can be attempted including activities like "sit-ups" and stretching by moving the head through various planes not just side to side.

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