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Nutrition Team Blog

Canine Massage

Published: Thursday, March 24, 2011

I became interested in massage when my own dog started limping at three years of age. He was then diagnosed with osteoarthritis in his right hip. Despite this he will pull like a train at cani-cross and has competed in flyball gaining his Flyball Intermediate Award. We are looking to start agility soon too! By keeping him very lean and giving him a regular massage he has stopped limping (now aged 8 years). He gets no medication or joint supplements.

In October 2007 I qualified with a Canine Massage diploma run by Galen Therapy Centre, West Sussex www.caninetherapy.co.uk

This course involved several hours of practical massage including case studies and theory units covering everything from the musculoskeletal system to the benefits and contraindications of massage. I’m not afraid to say that the course was very hard work and as in depth as my Zoology degree! The final assessment included a terrifying viva with an orthopaedic vet where I talked about my case studies and asked to name all the pelvic muscles; their insertions, origins and actions.

Later this year I am hoping to refresh my knowledge with a further course at Galen on exercise in adult dogs – with the aim of learning how to increase canine flexibility & mobility.

If you have noticed any of the following symptoms in your dog then he/she may benefit from massage: difficulty jumping in the car, too stiff to climb the stairs, difficulty getting up, trailing behind on his/her walks and intermittent lameness. Dogs suffering from conditions such as hip or elbow dysplasia, arthritis and ligament or tendon problems may also benefit. Sports massage can help improve performance of working dogs, agility and flyball dogs too. Many injuries in dogs which occur during exercise happen because the dog was not warmed up properly; pre-event massage is a useful tool here.

Massage can increase the circulation of blood, speed up recovery time after injury, encourage lymphatic drainage (remove metabolic waste), decrease muscle tension (which causes stiffness), influence the nervous system (can help relax or stimulate) and increase flexibility in dogs.

If you think your dog may benefit from massage please look for a qualified therapist that has full insurance. It is illegal for someone other than a vet to treat your dog without your permission and your vet’s consent prior to treatment.

Remember that diet is very important for dogs with joint and/or soft tissue conditions. One of the most important things you can do to help these dogs is to keep him/her as lean as possible.  A low fat diet such as Burns should help to do this. A natural, low residue diet is also important; this will help to avoid the accumulation of excess metabolic waste in the muscles and around the joints.

Head Pet Nutritionist


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