Created by Stonegallows Veterinary Physiotherapy 2019

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Throw the ball!!.......WAIT

Don’t throw the ball … why repetitive ball throwing type activities can be harmful for your dog.



We have either all had that dog or HAVE that dog that just loves a particular activity, ball throwing, frisbee catching, tug-o-war to name a few. Whilst these are great fun and stimulate your canine friends there can be some detrimental side effects to repetitive and persistent activities of this nature.


Imagine someone asks you to perform shuttle sprints every day… twice a day and maybe 10-15 if not more repetitions in each session. You run full speed to the end of your shuttle and then turn on your heel back to the start. After a few days you might be starting to feel the effects, you might notice your ankles ache a little or maybe your hips do? So you think I’ll have a few days rest from this. Would your dog not do the same? If it hurt they would just rest surely?


Well here’s the difference – dogs are ‘wired’ a little differently and they find tasks they enjoy very ‘high-reward’, this releases adrenalin which can mask the painful sensations they might have so that they carry on performing activities. This is particularly important for dogs with established injuries or joint disease e.g. osteoarthritis. They might not feel the pain at the time but later on they may be very sore from all the fun!


So, my dog isn’t old and doesn’t have any injuries – can I still throw the ball? Well occasionally yes, but try to vary the stimulation you give your dog. The key with this is that the repetition at high speed and therefore high load can cause micro trauma to cartilage and muscles – over time this can lead to major trauma and significant injuries.


What do you do instead?


Try alternative games, like scent work or playing hide and seek with the ball instead, vary your walks to give your dog new stimulus. If you are worried that your dog isn’t getting enough exercise it's often not the case – most energetic dogs need mental stimulation the majority of the time. Try obedience training or brain games of a different nature. If you do choose to throw a ball for your dog try to pick surfaces that aren’t going to cause excessive sliding, throw the ball along the ground to avoid jumping and twisting unnecessarily and try to walk a little way first so that your dog has chance to warm up a little first.


If you have any questions about this give us a call or message - we are always happy to help!


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