Seek Veterinarian advice for sudden, unusual changes in dogs behaviour, signs of pain and/or discomfort, lack of movement, range of motion
When muscles are strong and healthy movement is fluid, unrestricted and pain free. However, if the muscles become injured or stressed due to ageing, degenerative conditions, overuse, over exertion or an injury they contract or shorten. When a muscle is in a constant contracted state in response to bad posture, injury, overuse or over exertion it will have a restricted blood flow and a lack of lymphatic drainage causing a build-up of waste products and an inability to receive oxygen and nutrition via the blood stream. Sustained contraction may result in inflammation which is the body’s biological attempt to protect itself. Painful inflammation or injury leads to restricted movement of the affected muscle and compensation by other muscles and joints in an attempt to reduce the impact to the affected muscle. Compensating muscles are at risk of injury themselves due to increased and incorrect use, strain and postural issues. In addition, inactivity, in response to pain and/or injury or prolonged crate rest, may exasperate the problem and lead to further issues like muscle atrophy (wastage) from disuse.
Signs of Musculoskeletal Problems
- Limping, carrying a limb
- Difficulty standing up, laying down
- Avoid being touched (when usually likes it), move away, mouth your hand
- Prefer to lay down on one particular side
- Have difficulty turning around
- Loss of bending and extension in limb (how far limb moves away from the body)
- Muscles twitch when touched
- Sudden onset of licking a particular spot e.g. paw, leg
- Stop or slow down on a walk (may also indicate heart problems), prefer to walk not run
- Difficulty jumping on/off furniture or in/out of car
- Hesitate before moving, tire easily, unusual panting (not a hot day, no exertion)
- Straining to defecate, difficulty breathing (also signs of other medical issues, vet diagnosis required)
Why do muscles injure?
- Incorrect warm-up prior to exertion (farm work, flyball, agility, running at dog park)
- Overuse, overstretch and then tear (tears lead to scar issue when muscle repairs)
- Animal receives a blow/external trauma e.g. hit by a car
- Cooling down procedures conducted too quickly, especially after overheating (e.g. cooling vests, cooling mats)
- Posture is not balanced, leading to muscle compensation
- Faulty conformation (way skeleton is built)
- Poor diet (lack of nutrients e.g. protein)
- Lack of exercise, muscle wastage, old age and degenerative conditions
Canine Myofunctional Therapy (Massage) is defined as “the application of a range of massage techniques to the muscles and soft and connective tissues, to promote or restore biomechanical functioning and range of movement”, (Small Animal and Equine Naturopathic Association, 2017). It is applied to treat musculoskeletal and painful conditions and works by relaxing the muscles and improving blood flow. By regularly applying canine massage therapy to your dog you maintain the health of your dog’s muscles and bones and help aid recovery from injury and/or surgery. Preventative massage therapy helps maintain a healthy structure which aids in reducing a dogs risk of sustaining injury.
Veterinarians are more regularly promoting the benefits of canine massage and recommending massage therapy by trained professionals for a range of canine conditions in order to help improve range of motion, reduce pain and aid in rehabilitation.
Benefits of Massage for Dogs
- Reduces stress, anxiety and tension
- Improves range of motion/movement
- Increases blood circulation, improves lymphatic flow and boosts the immune system
- Increases nutrient uptake
- Avoids muscle spasm, prevents knots and reduces possibility of scar tissue
- Assists the detoxification process (elimination of waste around the joints)
- Aids in recovery after surgery (7-10 days post-surgery) and prolonged crate rest
Contact us to discuss massage therapy for your pet
©Suppawtive Health Solutions, www.suppawtivehealthsolutions.com.au, 2017.