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

Cullen KL, Dickey JP, Bent LR, Thomason JJ, Moëns NM.
2013 Oct 1

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.