Fifty years ago, the sugar industry quietly paid researchers at Harvard University to indicate that dietary fat was the major nutritional cause of heart disease (1). Their study was published in the prominent New England Journal of Medicine, and it laid the foundation for decades of nutrition misinformation perpetrated on the public by well-meaning organizations such as the American Heart Association.
Given that there are only three basic components of nutrition – fat, carbohydrates, and protein, of which protein is the most costly– it was inevitable that the emphasis on low-fat diets would lead to greater consumption of sugar. This was a big score for the sugar industry, but not so much for us. We now know that diets high in refined grains and added sugars have numerous detrimental effects on our metabolism, leading to adverse lipid profiles, and contributing to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Stamina is the strength and energy that allows your dog to sustain physical and/or mental effort for long periods of time. Increasing your dog’s stamina reduces fatigue and exhaustion and therefore helps prevent injuries. That’s important to all of us, whether we have a competition dog or a family dog.
Stamina is often confused with endurance, but they are quite different. The easiest way to think of it is that stamina defines your dog’s physical and mental ability to perform any kind of exercise again and again throughout the day. For example, your dog has great stamina if it can run at the same yards per second on the 6th agility run or the 20th flyball run of the day as it did on the first. Your dog has great stamina if it can hike with you all day, covering 5 times more ground than you and not be dragging its feet at the end. You can think of stamina as the opposite of fatigue.
In contrast, endurance is the cardiopulmonary ability to perform a continuous motion over a long period of time. Mushing dogs that run upwards of 100 miles a day in a race and dogs that accompany their people on a several-mile run have good endurance. Endurance activities usually involve a more moderate speed than strength activities but are sustained over a relatively long period of time. Of course, for a dog to run an endurance race of 100 miles, it must also have stamina.
Chris Zink DVM, PhD, DACVSMR and Gayle L. Watkins PhD
The swift, intense demand for dogs in North America during the COVID pandemic came as a surprise to many of us who already shared our lives with canine companions. It was as if the whole continent suddenly experienced a visceral need to experience the comfort of this species that has shared a relationship with humans for millennia. Shelters were emptied of adoptable dogs, and breeders were overwhelmed with requests.
As dog aficionados for decades, we watched this movement with intense interest. How will it play out? Will people be able to obtain the cheer and contentment they are looking for? Will these dogs become family members who share their joie de vivre with their new humans for 10 years or more? We fervently hope so.
Overload. Despite how it sounds, it may be a good thing for your dog’s fitness and health!
Strength is a major key to canine health and longevity. A dog with strong muscles is less likely to suffer injuries, both acute injuries and chronic injuries such as arthritis, which is one of the most common conditions in senior and geriatric dogs. And of course, for those of you who enjoy training and competing with your dogs, strength is strongly correlated with speed, which is a component of many dog sports.
The overload principle is one of the major concepts of strength training (1). Simply put, it says that if you want to improve your dog’s strength, you must progressively increase the total work that your dog’s muscles do.
Proprio – what? Proprioception is from Latin proprius, meaning "one's own," and capere, meaning to grasp. Thus, proprioception means to grasp one's own position in space, including the position of the limbs in relation to each other and the body as a whole.
Proprioception is how a baseball player hits a 3” ball going 95 mph with a 2 ¾” bat. It’s how your agility dog flies over the dog walk placing its feet in exactly the right spots on a narrow board. Check out the dog in the image above – his right rear foot has about one inch to spare! It’s how your athletic dog snags a thrown ball in mid-air and lands running. It’s responsible for your dog’s paw-eye and mouth-eye coordination. A well-tuned proprioceptive system will prevent your dog from making one or many missteps that could lead to a catastrophic injury.
Chris Zink DVM, PhD, DACVSMR and Gayle L. Watkins PhD
Cody strained at his leash as he entered my examination room. A brown and white pitbull mix with soft eyes, large neck and shoulder muscles, and a beautiful sheen to his coat, he rubbed the side of his big body against my legs then flipped over onto his back, begging for a belly rub. His tongue lolled to one side of his mouth and he sported a silly grin. On the inside of his left knee I could see a prominent scar from recent surgery.
Cody had ruptured his cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), a structure that supports the knee joint, about 4 months previously. He had endured a lengthy and expensive surgery to stabilize his knee in the hopes of reducing the chance that he would develop severe arthritis, and to help him to have a pain-free life. Cody and his person were consulting with me to arrange a conditioning and retraining program to enable him to safely return to all the activities he loved. Chris Zink DVM, PhD, DACVSMR and Gayle L. Watkins PhD
CHRIS ZINK DVM PhD DACVP DACVSMR CCRT CVSMT CVA is one of the world’s top canine sports medicine and rehabilitation veterinarians.