You don’t have to be a trained dog massage therapist to help reduce the pain of dog arthritis. Dog massage is a great part of an arthritic dog physical therapy program, and it’s easy to do. Of course, dog massage is not a cure for dog arthritis, but it is a great way to slow down the progress of the disease and reduce both pain and swelling.
Smaller dogs will benefit from a 10 to 15 minute massage session. Bigger dogs may require 20 to 30 minutes. Some dogs won’t be comfortable with the dog massage therapy in the beginning, so time your sessions accordingly. You can always increase the time as your dog shows more acceptance of the procedure.
Of course, you don’t want to aggravate the dog arthritis by overworking body parts, so take care to work within your dog’s pain tolerance levels. Be particularly gentle around swollen and tender areas.
The best time to perform dog arthritis massage therapy is in the morning and the evening. Morning dog massage therapy helps relieve the stiffness and pain that develops overnight. The evening dog massage session will help reduce the muscle tension and soreness that develops during the day’s activities.
If you’re not sure how to perform dog arthritis massage therapy, ask your vet to show you or to introduce you to an animal massage therapist. That way you can learn how to develop a routine and how to perform the basic massage strokes.
If you want to try it yourself first, follow these steps:
- Begin by lightly stroking the area you are going to massage. Use light pressure. The goal is to start increasing the blood circulation.
- Switch to a light kneading motion concentrating on the areas with tight muscles. Mix in some light hand friction so you can loosen up the muscle fibers and encourage blood circulation through the muscle mass.
- Then switch to effleurages, a light stroking technique, to help with drainage. Don’t massage the joints directly; concentrate on the muscle mass around the arthritic joints.
- If you dog will tolerate it, finish the session with some light stretching exercises. Then stroke your dog gently to stimulate circulation
- Encourage your dog to drink fresh water after the session to help dissolve the lactic acid released by the muscles during the dog arthritis massage session.
As you continue the dog arthritis massage therapy routine, you should see a gradual increase in your dog’s mobility.
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