Canine Massage aims to treat and manage a range of conditions:
- Hip dysplasia
- Soft tissue injuries such as tight/pulled muscle
- Cruciate ligament tear/rupture
- Luxating patella
- Neurological conditions such as CDRM
- Post operative rehabilitation
- Sports injuries
- Pre event warm up
- Post event cool down
- Maintaining a fluid gait and even stride
- Health maintenance
Massage should not only be enjoyable and relaxing for your dog, but it may help keep your dog as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Massage may enable your dog to keep optimum range of motion in their joints, which can be great for delaying the onset of arthritis and muscle atrophy in older age. A health maintenance massage is great for locating any tight muscles or knots starting to form from the wear and tear of a dog loving life and soon may be resolved.
How can massage help?
When your dog is lame generally they will shift their weight off of the bad leg/area and minimize its use. Not only can this reduce muscle in the ‘bad leg’, the muscles can shorten and contract from being held in a compromising position and range of motion in the joints can become restricted.
Even the most subtle change in posture can have a knock on effect to the rest of your dog’s body, when adopted over a period of time. Over time this can cause secondary problems if left untreated.
Imagine you have severe pain in your right hip; to prevent causing more pain, you put more weight into your left leg. Over time imagine how your left hip would feel; how would the rest of your body feel?
With on going lameness your dog can start to feel like this too. Even if the lameness has been treated, the extra strain put on the body does not instantly disappear. Massage can help put your dogs body back in balance, as well as helping to rehabilitate the original area of concern. It may only take a few sessions, it could take longer.
Every dog is different and will receive an individual treatment plan.
What exactly is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a painful disease that causes the stiffening of the joints, gradually diminishing your dog’s range of movement. There are several types of arthritis but the most common one is osteoarthritis; this develops when the cartilage lining the joint becomes damaged, this could be due to traumatic fracture, bad inherited bone bio-mechanics (i.e. hip dysplasia), too much stress on joints or the inevitable degeneration of old age.
Once damaged the cartilage releases degradative enzymes that decrease the production of important molecules (i.e. proteoglycans) that are produced in the hyaline cartilage. The decreased production of these molecules cause the cartilage to lose its thickness and elasticity. Without this the joint loses its shock absorbing mechanics that are vital to fluid movement.
Gradually more debris and enzymes leak into the joint fluid, thus the joints lubrication and ability to block inflammatory cells are absent and can no longer nourish the cartilage. The damage then migrates throughout the entire joint, allowing the synovial fluid to come in contact with nerve endings; therefore creating pain. New bits of bone are produced at the edges of the joint surface, capsule, ligament and muscle attachments thickening the joint in the wrong places and consequently decreasing range of motion.
How could Remedial Massage help your dog’s arthritis?
Remedial massage will incorporate a holistic treatment for your dog; looking at all factors of the dog’s lifestyle not only the arthritic joint/s of concern.
One of the most effective ways to manage arthritis is to build up the muscles surrounding the joint so the joint is stabilized. A range of techniques used during massage increase the blood supply in the both muscles and the joints; allowing them both to receive a fresh supply of nutrients and to increase the removal of waste products.
Passive stretches and active exercises and be used to both increase muscle tone but also increase and stabilize your dog’s range of motion.
Massage can become a particularly enjoyable experience for your dog as they soon learn to understand what massage is all about and may associate it with ease of movement in the next following days.
Cruciate Ligament Injuries
The cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) is identical to the anterior cruciate ligament in the human knee joint. CCL tears are very common in dogs of all breeds and all sizes, nevertheless, large breeds are more at risk. When a CCL tears it allows the tibia to slide forward, away from the femur too much so that when the animal bears weight onto the leg it causes pain due to excessive movement. The sliding motion causes damage to the cartilage cushions (menisci) that sit between the two bones. Commonly dogs with a CCL tear are very reluctant to bear weight in the injured leg. Such lameness is typically sudden, although many dogs will exhibit inconsistent mild lameness for weeks or months before hand.
Tearing can occur in otherwise in a perfectly healthy stifle joint to due sudden and severe blunt force to the area. However, more commonly, the ligament will gradually weaken and deteriorate as the animal ages. In such circumstances the ligament can tear easily with minor force such as slipping or jumping and the owner may not even know if their dog has suffered any trauma. Over time both ligaments age and become weak, which is why if one tears there is a high probability that in time the other one on the opposite side will also tear, due to compensation. Canine Massage is a great way of getting your dog back in balance following surgery!
What is canine hip dysplasia (CHD)?
CHD is thought to effect up to 30% of the canine population. Dysplasia refers to abnormal development; in this case either of the femoral head (top) or hip socket (bottom). There are varying degrees of the disease and are typically accompanied by arthritis. Other parts of your dog’s body may take more wear and tear due to a compensatory gate in the avoidance of pain. Signs of CHD can vary from crippling lameness to virtually no visible signs of the disease.
Dogs with CHD are normally born with normal hip joints, however changes occur during development and with age. It can be months or years until the final result of CHD is final and if left untreated your dog could be in a lot of pain. Diagnosis can be confirmed through X-rays. There are 3 main factors that contribute to CHD; genetics, nutrition and activity level.
Remedial massage will incorporate a holistic management program that can help manage your dog’s disease or aid your dog in post-operative recovery, with the consent of your vet. The aim is to restore homeostasis within the dog’s body, re-correcting posture and gait by eliminating trigger points and loosening stiff joints through the use of passive stretches, active exercises and massage techniques.
Massage can also help improve muscle tone by making the muscles active. Healthy muscles constantly contract and relax, it is an invisible notion that we are unable to see or feel. A dog is in cage/bed rest or reduced exercise, will have no or poor muscle tone, however massage can improve the tone of the lost muscle. The build-up of muscle is essential in the maintenance of CHD, the muscles and ligaments have to work harder to hold together the unstable hip joint.
The body is designed to heal, movement is the promoter. It is movement that encourages the removal of waste, oxygenation and circulation. Therefore, passive stretches aim to increase the dogs ROM (range of motion) and flexibility that in turn gives the dog more freedom and minimises discomfort in older dogs and dogs with conditions such as CHD. Dogs naturally stretch themselves when they are is discomfort.
What exactly is CDRM?
CDRM: Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyelopathy or DM: Degenerative Myelopathy, is a disease of the spinal cord resulting in the death of the nerve cells that convey messages to the hind limbs. Typically DM is characterised by the non-painful progressive hind limb paralysis. Clinical symptoms can include; subtle weakness of hind limbs, progressive ataxia (uncoordinated/stumbling gait), crossing of hind limbs, loss of proprioception (dragging paws), muscle loss in hind limbs and eventually faecal/urinary incontinence. Generally in most dogs such clinical signs are complacent with a lesion in the upper motor neuron system; characterised by the by the exaggeration of spinal cord reflexes and proprioceptive deficits and increased muscle tone. Neurons in the brain may also be affected.
The disease is thought to have a hereditary connection, yet the actual cause is unknown. Generally, two copies of the faulty gene have to be present for the disease to develop, however dogs with one faulty gene have also developed the disease. This could indicate the likelihood of other factors contributing to the disease. Due to the complexity of the disease, the mechanics are not currently understood.
However, research from the University of Missouri, suggests that a contributing factor to the disease could be a mutation of the gene superoxide dismutase – 1 (SOD-1.) SOD-1 encodes an enzyme responsible for destroying free radicals in the body. Free radicals are reactive elements that are part of a natural defence mechanism, however when produced in excess they can cause cell death and a variety of degenerative diseases. Unfortunately, free radical scavengers (antioxidants) are not thought to reverse or delay the disease. Low levels of vitamin E, and B12 have been demonstrated in DM, however again supplementation is not thought to have effect.
A management scheme aims to give your dog the best quality of life for as long as possible. Every dog is different, so it is impossible to say that what helped one dog may help your dog. It is important consider the stress the fore limbs and other body parts are under as the condition progresses, your dog will develop an abnormal gait. This is why it is important to treat your dog as a whole.
Canine Remedial Massage can help stimulate peripheral nerves and proprioception throughout the body and may help to maintain your dog’s quality of life throughout such degenerative diseases. Massage may increase circulation throughout the body and replenish muscles with a fresh supply of oxygen and nutrients whilst removing waste products. It is important that your dog’s muscles are kept as healthy as possible. Gradually, your dog will lose strength in the hind limbs and a lot of compensatory stress will be placed on the neck, back and fore limbs; massage can help relieve areas of tension and maintain muscle tone, flexibility, increasing your dogs quality of life.