Last Updated on 2022-05-08 by Admin
Yesterday morning around 4 AM, Annie came to my bed and gave me a nudge with her head. I turned around and wanted to touch Annie in my half-sleep. There was no Annie where she usually would be. So I sat up and saw her standing a few feet away. Her rear facing me instead of her head. A sign that Annie wants a back and leg massage.
I sat on the edge of the bed and massaged Annie’s Back and back legs till she was comfortable and laid down on the floor.
Being able to massage a dog that is soar is very rewarding for the dog and owner. One needs to start slowly and be alert to the dog’s reaction. Using light pressure for starters and adjust with experience.
Before treating dogs with health issues, please check with Your vet. My dog Annie was diagnosed with a torn ligament in her knee. Otherwise, she is healthy.
Massage To Increase Mobility
The goal of the massage is the increase the mobility and release tension. For massaging to work, it needs to be regularly over an extended period. With Annie, I do a quick massage\muscle stretch before we go out for a longer walk. When we come home, she gets another more extended massage.
With massaging, the key is to make it enjoyable for the dog. I am watching out for areas where Annie is sensitive and try not to aggravate those areas. Take time for the dog to adjust. Make it a routine and massage on a regular schedule.
Back and Leg Massage
Annie has been getting massaged for over two years. That is about as long Annie had issues with her knees. First, the right, then the left knee. After massaging for a few weeks, I noticed that it was easier for her to get up from a sitting position. She also walks better but still limps.
Eventually, Annie started standing in front of me with her Back pointing towards me. Indicating she wants a back and leg massage. Interestingly Annie does not do this all the time. She does it only when in need of a massage. Sometimes after a massage. I get the royal treatment, a vigorous licking on my neck and side of the face, as a thank You.
Whole Dog Massage
When Annie was diagnosed with a knee ligament tear, it made sense to massage her head, neck and front legs. As dogs walk on four legs, the front legs also help compensate for an injured rear knee. Weight gets distributed when they bend forward to sniff. Leg and Back massage were just the most obvious place to start for me.
As for pain relief, I’m not sure how well massaging works. Dogs hide pain very well. When I know she is in pain, she generally wants a more extended massage. When she is satisfied, she will get up or lick me.
A whole body massage is also a great way to detect growths and other skin conditions on a dogs body.
Here is a good video introduction on how to massage a dog.
Acupressure To Reduce Pain and Increase Mobility
Acupressure uses many of the same points on the body as acupuncture. But acupressure is done with the hand. It is best to get a book that shows where the various points are on a dog’s body when starting. A good book will also have a group of acupressure points that need activation for specific conditions. The book I recommend is called Four Paws Five Directions by Cheryl Schwartz, DVM.
When starting, You may not find the exact acupressure point every time. With acupressure, you can massage the general area and still get results.
After reading sections of the book about knee issues and arthritis, I integrated acupressure with the massage. When required, I would reference the book to find the Acupressure points that needed activating.
Acupressure Integrated With Massage
Integrating the massage with acupressure made a lot of sense. Annie is relaxed when massaging, already laying in the correct position. And I massage the same areas. Acupressure did not seem to be noticed by Annie when I introduced it. On rare occasions, when an acupressure point is activated, I get a response from Annie. She will lift her head and look at me.
Massage and acupressure together are better than just massage alone for mobility, in my opinion. Using canine acupressure & massage to increase mobility can save time. A good massage will take 10 to 20 minutes. And acupressure with take about 10 minutes, when treating Annie.
When it comes to pain reduction, it is not that clear. At times it does look like acupressure works for pain. But as massage and acupressure are together, I can’t separate what works better.
From my experience with Annie, Increasing her mobility also addresses at least some of the pain. She is more active and playful after treatment.
Here is a link to a YouTube video that shows how to perform acupressure for arthritis.
The key is to start gently and get familiar with the dog anatomy and how it reacts to being touched. Not all dogs are the same. Doing the massage and acupressure together works well for me. That might not be the case for others. Try just one for a while, then the other. See what works.
Some research indicates that massage and acupuncture are working for mobility and pain. But there is debate over its effectiveness. See the resources section at the bottom of this article.
For me, it is irrelevant whether science agrees or not. The beneficial changes I see in my dog are what matter. Based on that, I will continue with massage and acupressure.
Other extra benefits from massaging and acupressure are:
- A more trusting relationship between Annie and me
- Understanding Annie’s behaviour better
- I learned a new skill
- Dog appreciates treatment, and I get a lot of licking
- Saves money
- Treatment can be done anywhere
Lane, David M, and Sarah A Hill. “Effectiveness of combined acupuncture and manual therapy relative to no treatment for canine musculoskeletal pain.” The Canadian veterinary journal = La revue veterinaire canadienne vol. 57,4 (2016): 407-14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4790233/
Schoen AM. Acupuncture for musculoskeletal disorders. Probl Vet Med. 1992 Mar;4(1):88-97. PMID: 1581663. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1581663/
Dog Acupressure Chart and Pressure Points http://naturaldogremedies.net/Dog%20Acupressure%20Chart%20and%20Pressure%20Points.pdf