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Puppy Fitness Evaluations


A puppy’s conformation can be scrutinized at 8 weeks old.  By looking at the angulation of the shoulder blade and the angulation of the tarsus (or hock), a good idea can be developed on how the dog will look, conformation wise, when full grown.   It also gives an insight into orthopaedic problems that may develop due to too great or small of an angulation in these areas and whether a puppy is at risk for orthopaedic problems in the future.  Manual therapy tests can be performed on the stifle (knee) and hip to give a clue to see if the pup may be at risk for developing hip dysplagia or stifle injuries as they develop.  Tests can also be performed at the carpus (wrist joint), elbow, shoulder, and tarsus (ankle or hock) joint.  The spine, pelvis, or rib joints can also manually be evaluated to determine if a pup has a dysfunction in these areas.

Even if a pup tests positive for joint laxity, certain specific exercises can be prescribed early on to help develop musculature in these areas and will greatly decrease the risk of problems in the future.  Studies are being done looking at the effects of canine rehabilitation in pups that have tested positive for hip dysplagia on a Penn Hip exam.  Specific exercises are prescribed as early as 8 weeks old to tone and improve the musculature of the hip area and decrease the probability of the extent of hip disease later in life. 

Puppies are known for their lack of coordination when they are young.  This can be seen even more so in puppies that will be larger sized.  Large breed and giant breed puppies can be prone to orthopaedic problems if they grow at rapid rates.  In return, balance and proprioception deficits usually ensue.  Canine rehabilitation can target this group of dogs and improve their body awareness and coordination, decreasing the risk of falls or accidents that may lead to serious injuries.  By benefiting from the skill sets of physical therapists who are experts in returning patients back to a functional level after a stroke or neurological deficit, these same set of tools can be applied to the canine patients.  





If  you are planning to train your pup as a working dog, or as an agility champion, the exercises can be geared to safely progress your dog in a way that will not affect your dog’s growth development of bones and tissues, but will only enhance the building of stronger bones and muscles.  We have a strong commitment at Appalachian Canine Therapy to begin at an early age with our canine patients in order to keep them at their optimal level throughout their life with you. 

Our fitness and conditioning examinations do not replace the Puppy visits with your veterinarian.  Our exams are for the purpose of focusing in on potential orthopaedic issues and using manual treatments and exercise programs to address these minor issues. 



Sporting/ Competition Evaluations


Is your dog popping out of weave poles?  Stutter stepping before a jump?  Has a crooked sit? 


Maybe it’s not your training of the dog, maybe there is a minor issue that needs to be addressed.  Is your dog demonstrating a kyphotic or roached topline in conformation that wasn’t there before?  We can assess and treat minor spinal facet joint dysfunctions, sacroiliac joint problems, and rib issues.  Treatment can focus on gait retraining, body awareness, strength and endurance training, postural control, balance and coordination. 

Experienced physical therapists  are experts in motion analysis and rehabilitation and can easily apply these same set of skills to benefit canine patients.  Specifically tailored individualized home exercise programs can be designed to complement our range of balance and exercise equipment.  Education for injury prevention is vital to keep your canine in optimal form.  Written instructions can be given in a handout format during the visit or emailed to you.   If your dog is not lame, has not been injured and/or has not had a recent surgery, no veterinary referral is required. 


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