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Canine Massage and the Arthritic Dog

Canine Massage can be very beneficial for the Arthritic dog; it is complimentary to the veterinary treatment and prescribed painkillers. In some cases, Canine Massage can alleviate the need for large doses of painkilling drugs. Massage cannot cure the Arthritis but it can help to make your dogs life easier and improve their wellbeing

Osteoarthritis is the more common of the two types of Arthritis; this is a degenerative joint disease where the cartilage that acts as a cushion, protecting the bone and preventing the two ends from rubbing together. As the cartilage starts to break down this allows the bones to make contact with each other causing friction, which inflames the joint and makes it painful. The joint mobility becomes restricted and in time, bony spurs develop on the edge of the bones. The joint swells due to overproduction of Synovial fluid, this in turn puts extra pressure on the ligaments and joint capsule and the result of this causes the dog to start overcompensating in different muscle areas.

Canine Massage can help give the dog pain relief from the over compensating muscles. Osteoarthritis is often thought to be only found in the older dog but as it can be caused by wear and tear, it can be found in the younger dog that may be suffering from Hip Dysplasia due to hereditary factors. It can be that the dog has developed it due to stress of over jumping or turning whilst doing agility or jumping on and off heights. It can be the effects of jumping in and out of high vehicles.

Other causes of Arthritis

  • Obesity because of the excessive loads on the joints
  • Bad confirmation giving rise to bad joints
  • Trauma from a bad injury
  • Osteochondrosis (OCD) and Elbow Dysplasia
  • Diabetes and Cushing’s disease can be a primary to Arthritis, as they are associated with wear on cartilage.

Canine massage helps with so many of the symptoms of the disease

  • Personality change
  • Stiffness
  • Decreased activity
  • Difficulty climbing stairs
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty rising and restriction on jumping ie, onto a chair, or into the car
  • Limping and lameness
  • Crepitus in the joint movement
  • Pain with inflamed and swollen joints.

Canine massage helps by warming the muscles and the surrounding area helping make them more supple and relieving the muscle tension.

An early morning massage will help the dog get the circulatory and lymphatic systems working to help break the  ‘pain tension more pain barrier’. It helps with the reduction of inflammation and swellings and joint mobility can be improved.

Canine massage can help with the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis which is an over reaction of the immune system when the body mistakes it’s own protein for a foreign body, and produces antibodies which are then depoisited on the joint. As the body then tries to rid itself of the protein it creates inflammation, this in turn gradually wears away at the cartilage and then the bone. Both Oesteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis are diagnosed by the Vet taking x rays and in the case of rheumatoid a blood tests will confirm this.

Tips for the Arthritic Dog

  • Canine Massage can help with the well-being of the dog, which in turn helps all around.
  • It also helps if the dog is kept warm, it may mean them wearing a coat or woolly jumper, The therapeutic coat such as the back on track range are very good.
  • Watching the dog’s diet to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Feeding supplements such as Glucosamine and Chodroitin
  • Omega 3 that is found in fish, as this is an anti-inflammatory. However, beware of too much Omega 6, as this is a pro flammatory.
  • Smaller walks rather than one big one. It is a balance of not doing too much but enough to get the dog on the move, it may just be an amble.
  • Make sure ramps are available for the back of the car or in the case of small dogs the steps.
  • Make sure the bed is out of a draught and is supportive of the weight of the dog. You can get therapeutic beds which are designed to respond to the dogs body temperature and support the dogs weight helping alleviate potential pressure points that can lead to aches and pains. A good piece of sheepskin is very natural and warming.
  • Be aware that the bed is not on cold tiles as the cold can be drawn up from the floor into the bed, it is always best to put a piece of carpet underneath.

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Author:  Dale Atkinson

For more information visit Dale Atkinson’s biography

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