When you are putting your dog into agility training or an agility competition you are asking a lot of them physically.
Working at a high pace, and with many changes in direction, agility can put your dog into compromising positions that can stress different areas of their body.
A dog will usually work until they can’t. They will push through the discomfort until it’s too unbearable anymore. They truly are resilient animals.
One body area that is particularly vulnerable with dog agility is your dog’s shoulder and lower neck.
The lower neck has a network of nerves that feed the front limbs. While the shoulder is your dog’s primary joint for movement between the spine and the front limb.
If your dog injures either of these areas, the symptoms can overlap and look similar.
Typically your dog will come up lame and not weight bear well on that side. They may have tenderness in that area of their shoulder or they may have limited neck range of motion.
In any case where your dog comes up lame you should have them assessed physically by either your vet and if nothing serious arises, make sure they have a physical assessment by an animal chiropractor.
One way you can determine where the injury is coming from, by testing the ROM in your dog’s neck. If it’s limited or asymmetrical side to side it is a positive test.
You can test this by performing the treat/cookie test. Do this by holding a treat while your dog is standing, and make your dog follow the treat in an arc to their left shoulder, and then back all the way to the right shoulder.
Lower neck conditions in dogs are a big concern as they can potentially lead to damaging nerve trauma and produce longer recovery times.
If your dog is starting agility or is currently doing agility it is a good idea to have their function in all joints assessed by an animal chiropractor.
Better function = Better performance.