Canine Sports Medicine

Canine Sports Medicine

Dog sports throughout the country are growing rapidly and Omaha is no exception. Canine sports medicine is a unique field of practice focused on treating the canine athlete – everything from how to choose a puppy, injury prevention (aka “routine maintenance”), to recovery from injury or surgery, and return to sport. Canine athletes perform best when they receive routine sports exams, chiropractic adjustment, and laser therapy on sore or tight muscles.

Common sports include: 

  • Agility
  • Obedience
  • Rally
  • Flyball
  • Herding
  • Dock diving
  • Hunting
  • Lure coursing

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Sports Medicine Schedule for Performance Dogs

Puppies – Initial evaluation

Puppies may be evaluated as young as 8 weeks with a recommended puppy evaluation and chiropractic adjustment prior to 6 months. Sooner if you notice any lameness, have any major injuries, or notice habits such as pacing or crooked sits.

12-14 months – 2nd recheck and adjustment with a full sports evaluation at around 1 year of age

These dogs generally have 4 sports medicine rechecks and chiropractic adjustment per year depending on the intensity and type of work or sport. It is recommended that all working or performance dogs over 1 year of age receive a daily joint supplement of some kind.


2nd Evaluation includes:

  • Gait analysis
  • Conformation
  • Chiropractic exam
  • Full orthopedic exam of all joints
  • Nutrition & supplements review
  • Warm up/cool down routines
  • Stretching/basic massage
  • Training regimens


2 years – 3rd evaluation

Depending on training intensity, a sports medicine recheck and adjustment every 2-3 months is recommended; more frequently if you are having persistent training problems or have an accidents in training.

Recommended Evaluation includes:

  • Sedated hip and spine (and elbows, depending on the breed)
  • Radiographs for a baseline reading (it is not necessary to send them to OFA unless you want to)
  • Ophthalmic CERF exam for collie type breeds

3-6 years

This is the major working life of your dog and he/she should be kept in top form. Again, depending on pre-existing conditions and competition level, these dogs should have a sports medicine recheck and adjustment every 4-8 weeks during the competition season. Preventative care and good nutrition is very important for increasing performance and preventing injury.

7-13 years

This is the phase of a dog’s life where chronic injuries such as arthritis, overuse sprains/strains, back problems or hip dysplasia tend to become a limiting factor in performance. Frequency of treatment varies widely among sports, breeds, and individuals.

Common Treatments Include:

  • Cold laser therapy
  • Routine chiropractic care
  • Acupuncture
  • Nutrition and Supplementation

13-15 years

These are considered the “extreme geriatrics”, which Five Elements has seen more of in the last several years. As our preventative care improves, dogs are living longer. Traditional Chinese Medicine and Cold Laser Therapy greatly improve quality of live in older dogs and is highly recommended.