Ever had a massage? It feels good, right? Well your dog can benefit too.
Just like us, our dogs can strain, injure or overwork their muscles. This might be obvious in an acute injury but it is often more subtle. Aches and pains can creep up on our dogs over a period of time and it is easy to miss the signs that your dog might be in pain or discomfort.
Indicators that your dog might have an issue are
- General stiffness or difficulty in rising after a rest
- Restlessness or an inability to settle
- Whimpering or whining
- Sensitivity to touch in a particular area of their body
- Postural changes; low head carriage, arching of the spine
- Coat disturbance – hair sticking up or curly in places
- Difficulty getting up or down the stairs
- Inability to jump onto/off furniture or getting in/out of the car
- Mobility issues and change in gait
- Changes in behaviour
- Reduced enthusiasm for exercise
- Perceived training issues, i.e. not wanting to weave, knocking poles, avoiding jumps (agility), a slow or crooked sit (obedience)
Equally many orthopaedic conditions such as osteoarthritis, degenerative diseases, hip dysplasia, cruciate ligament injury, have a significant chronic effect on our dogs’ posture and as such this puts additional strain on the body. As a result the functionality of the muscles and associated soft tissues can become compromised. This is referred to as secondary compensation.
Massage therapy works to improve muscle function by
- Improving circulation and flushing cells with nutrient-rich blood
- Breaking down scar tissue and adhesions
- Trigger point release and reducing spasm
- Stretching fibres and promoting relaxation of the muscle
- Enhancing muscle tone
- Promoting lymphatic flow, helping the body to rid itself or toxins, inflammatory and waste products
- Encouraging endorphin release – the body’s natural painkiller
The result of improving the capability of the musculoskeletal system can result in a noticeable change in your dogs’ demeanour and physical appearance. It can restore mobility and flexibility, aid the repair of injury, counteract the signs of old age, support orthopaedic conditions, inhibit pain and improve performance in the working dog.
In addition to the physical advantages that massage imparts, there are psychological benefits too. Massage can have an effect on the nervous system, engaging the ‘rest and digest’ phase in the body thus reducing heart rate and encouraging relaxation. In turn this acts to reduce emotional stress, improve concentration, combat fatigue, calm aggressive behaviours and have a positive effect on overall wellbeing.
So in answer to the question Why Massage?…..my response is Why Wouldn’t You Massage?!!!