OBJECTIVE To compare the kinematics of the thoracic limb of healthy dogs during descent of stairs and a ramp with those during a trot across a flat surface (control).
ANIMALS 8 privately owned dogs.
PROCEDURES For each dog, the left thoracic limb was instrumented with 5 anatomic markers to facilitate collection of 2-D kinematic data during each of 3 exercises (descending stairs, descending a ramp, and trotting over a flat surface). The stair exercise consisted of 4 steps with a 35° slope. For the ramp exercise, a solid plank was placed over the steps to create a ramp with a 35° slope. For the flat exercise, dogs were trotted across a flat surface for 2 m. Mean peak extension, peak flexion, and range of movement (ROM) of the shoulder, elbow, and carpal joints were compared among the 3 exercises.
RESULTS Mean ROM for the shoulder and elbow joints during the stair exercise were significantly greater than during the flat exercise. Mean peak extension of the elbow joint during the flat exercise was significantly greater than that during both the stair and ramp exercises. Mean peak flexion of the elbow joint during the stair exercise was significantly greater than that during the flat exercise.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results suggested that descending stairs may be beneficial for increasing the ROM of the shoulder and elbow joints of dogs. Descending stair exercises may increase elbow joint flexion, whereas flat exercises may be better for targeting elbow joint extension.