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Survey-based analysis of risk factors for injury among dogs participating in agility training and competition events

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  • 1 Biophysics Interdepartmental Group, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.
  • | 2 Institute for Work and Health, 481 University Ave, Toronto, ON M5G 2E9, Canada.
  • | 3 Biophysics Interdepartmental Group, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.
  • | 4 School of Kinesiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Western Ontario, London, ON N6A 5B9, Canada.
  • | 5 Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, College of Biological Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.
  • | 6 Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.
  • | 7 Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.

Abstract

Objective—To identify potential risk factors for agility-related injuries among dogs.

Design—Internet-based, retrospective, cross-sectional survey.

Animals—3,801 privately owned dogs participating in agility training or trials.

Procedures—A retrospective electronic survey was used to investigate potential risk factors for injury among dogs participating in agility-related activities. Respondents were handlers recruited through member lists of large canine agility associations in Canada and the United Kingdom and through promotion on an agility blog site. Variables evaluated included demographic information for handlers and dogs, exposure variables (eg, frequency of agility practice and competition in the past year), and use of preventive measures intended to keep dogs fit for agility (warmup, cooldown, or conditioning exercises; alternative therapeutic treatments [eg, acupuncture, massage, or chiropractic care]; or dietary supplement products).

Results—Data were collected from 1,669 handlers of 3,801 agility dogs internationally; 1,209 (32%) dogs incurred ≥ 1 injury. Previous injury (OR, 100.5), ≤ 4 years of agility experience for dogs (OR, 1.5), use of alternative therapeutic treatments (OR, 1.5), and Border Collie breed (OR, 1.7) were associated with increased odds of injury. Handlers having 5 to 10 or > 10 years of experience (OR, 0.8 and 0.6, respectively) and dogs having > 4 years of experience in the sport (OR, 0.6) were associated with decreased odds of injury.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Specific factors were associated with agility-related injuries in dogs. Educational prevention strategies should target at-risk populations in an effort to reduce potential injuries. Future research should focus on the biomechanical factors associated with agility-related injuries.

Contributor Notes

This manuscript represents a portion of a dissertation submitted by Ms. Cullen to the University of Guelph Biophysics Interdepartmental Group as partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Doctor of Philosophy degree.

Supported by the Ontario Veterinary College Pet Trust Fund. Ms. Cullen was also supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Graduate Scholarship.

None of the authors have any conflicts of interest to disclose regarding this manuscript.

The authors thank Susan Garrett for helping to disseminate the electronic survey to participants, Dr. Sheilah Hogg-Johnson for statistical guidance and survey development, Dr. Jason Coe for survey development, and Jarrod Shugg for data entry.

Address correspondence to Ms. Cullen (kcullen@iwh.on.ca).