“The most important element of canine sports medicine is recognizing the athleticism of the patient.”
The SportsVet Academy is a website developed by Dr. Robert L. Gillette to provide courses covering topics relevant to performance dogs.
Dr. Gillette has devoted his veterinary career to athletic and working dogs. He was born and raised in Great Bend, KS, a town in central Kansas, where he did a lot of Bird Hunting. His first interactions with Athletic and Working dogs were Retrievers and Pointers. Through an introduction by Dr. Earl Carlson (Mile High Kennel Club, Denver, CO) in 1985, he became interested in Racing Greyhounds and began raising and racing greyhounds in 1990. It was this experience that led him down the path of Canine Sports Medicine. He started using the sports medicine philosophies in his hunting dog, agility, coursing, disc dog and herding dog patients. He realized that the canine athlete or working dog needs a different, higher level of medicine than the general pet population. After a move to Auburn, AL, He expanded his experiences by working with Foxhound Kennels, Professional Hunting Dog Kennels and Sled Dogs. He was also introduced to military working dogs and local, state and federal canine teams that included detection dogs, sentry dogs and tracking/trailing dogs.
Academic and Professional Background
He graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University in 1988. Early in his career he worked as a laboratory animal veterinarian in the Animal Care Unit at the University of Kansas (KU) and with the Kansas Racing Commission when horse and dog racing was introduced to the state. He then went into private practice with a heavy interest in Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. He received a MSE in Kinesiology with a minor in Exercise Physiology from the KU Department of Human Performance in 1998.
In 1997, He began working at Auburn University under Dr. Stephen Swaim in the Scott Ritchey Research Center. His research focused on wound healing and reconstructive surgery. In 2015, they published the book, Management of Small Animal Distal Limb Injuries. Swaim SF, Welch, J, Gillette, RL., Teton New Media, Jackson, WY
In 2000, thanks to a donation by Mrs. Dorothy Metcalf, the Richard G. and Dorothy A Metcalf Veterinary Sports Medicine Program was fully funded and he was named the Director of the program. Over the next 12 years it grew to become the Animal Health & Performance Program. He developed rehabilitation protocols to be used by veterinarians to improve injury recovery in their patients. He also initiated and oversaw the canine performance laboratory. The research led to the development of exercise programs, feeding protocols and nutritional products that improved the dogs’ abilities. This work led to training and conditioning programs to improve canine performance and reduce the physical and metabolic stresses of work and competition. It also improved the knowledge base to address, treat and manage medical issues and injuries in canine athletes. Subsequently, he became a very active national and international lecturer on the topic of Canine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation.
During this time, he served as chairman of the committee to develop a specialty in the field of veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation. In 2009, this goal was achieved and the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (ACVSMR) was recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association. He was the first president of the ACSVMR and later served on the ACVSMR Board of Directors as the Canine Sports Medicine Regent.
He currently has SportsVet Veterinary Consulting Services in South Carolina. His efforts are focused on the Canine Athletes, Working Dogs and Rehabilitation of all pets. He still enjoys working with his clientèle to enhance performance of their canine partners. He has begun to look at improving animal health through the benefits of exercise and reducing the occurrence of lameness by enhancing structural stability and strength.
We recently published The Athletic and Working Dog: Functional Anatomy and Biomechanics. The intention of this book is to be a handy guide to the functional anatomy and applied biomechanics of the dog. The book was designed to provide the core principles of canine movement to veterinarians, animal physical therapists and those individuals that own, handle or train dogs. It also provides information to those individuals who have an interest in the movement of dogs. It begins with an overview of the dog’s neuromusculoskeletal anatomy presented in a functional manner. The second section is designed to present how the science of biomechanics can be easily used to understand movement and performance of the dog. The information can be used by veterinarians and related health professionals to understand normal and abnormal locomotion when diagnosing lameness in the clinical setting. It can be used by the professional dog trainers and handlers to better understand canine movement and how it applies to dog performance. The Athletic and Working Dog: Functional Anatomy and Biomechanics addresses the key concepts of musculoskeletal function related to body structure or conformation and movement or locomotion of all dogs as well as the performance of any athletic and working dogs.