How to Massage a Dog with Arthritis

by | Oct 9, 2021 | Dog Health

Older dogs have a thinner layer of cartilage, making them more prone to developing arthritis. This condition is a common problem, especially among bigger breeds of dogs. 

So if your dog has arthritis, what can you do to relieve the pain and improve their quality of life?

Consider giving them a massage. Showing your dog some TLC through a massage carries significant benefits. In this article, we’ll go through the benefits and the proper way to massage your dog with arthritis. 

What is Canine Arthritis?

Arthritis in dogs occurs when their joints fail to provide proper cushioning to the bones. The rubbing between the bones creates friction and damage. In turn, it could make movement painful. 

Your dog could be more prone to developing arthritis because of its age, size, weight, and genes. Dogs that have been diagnosed with the condition have difficulty getting up or moving around. You may also notice other signs such as sudden weight loss, irritability, and pain symptoms. If you suspect your dog has arthritis, take them to your vet as soon as possible. 

Take note that canine arthritis is a progressive disease, and there is currently no known cure. As a pet owner, it helps to know what you can do to help your canine manage this disease. 

How Can You Help Your Dog with Arthritis?

Even though there is no known cure for arthritis, you can still take steps to alleviate your dog’s discomfort. Some things you can do is help your pet maintain a healthy weight and try natural remedies for arthritis.

Another option is canine massage therapy. Performing a massage can relieve the pain symptoms and slow down the progression of arthritis.

What are the Benefits of Massaging Dogs with Arthritis?

Massaging your pet with arthritis can significantly improve its quality of life. The purpose of a massage is to provide relief, ease sore muscles, and reduce stress. 

Some benefits of massaging dogs with arthritis include:

  • Increased circulation: Massaging your pet’s muscles promotes better blood circulation, reducing any swelling and inflammation. 
  • Reduces discomfort: Gently rubbing your pet’s body can help reduce the pain and inflammation. It also prevents muscle spasms and stiffness. 
  • Promotes mobility: When you massage your canine, you’re loosening up constricted muscles and tissues. Through gentle movement, you help your dog stretch better and maintain mobility. 

Below are some precautions you should take when massaging your pet:

  • Be gentle. Make sure your dog feels comfortable and is positioned properly.
  • Refrain from directly massaging the joints affected by arthritis. 
  • Be sensitive to how your pet reacts to your massage. Some dogs tend to be more sensitive to touch. 
  • Consult your vet about how to properly massage your dog. 
  • Get in touch with a vet therapist and don’t take on deep tissue massages yourself. 

How Do You Massage Your Dog with Arthritis at Home?

A dog suffering from arthritis is usually in pain and discomfort. Professional veterinarians can perform specific massage therapies for your dog to help, but you can also massage your pet at home. 

Here’s are some of the most common techniques you can use when massaging your dog:

  • Use long, flowing strokes before you after the massage to promote better blood circulation. 
  • Gently knead and twist your dog’s skin and fur to reduce muscle and tissue tension. 
  • Massage your dog with a “pumping” motion to relieve muscle spasms and encourage greater blood circulation. 

Below we provide you with important steps to follow when massaging your canine:

  1. Stick to your schedule: Make sure not to overdo your massage. For example, massaging your dog once in the morning and evening is enough.

    By giving your dog physical therapy in the morning, you can help it relieve the stiffness after sleeping and prepare its body for the day ahead. In turn, giving your dog a massage at night can help relax its muscles before bed.

  2. Choose a comfortable position: Find a place and position where your dog is comfortable laying down. Make sure there’s enough space for you to roll it on both sides.  

  3. Pay attention to body language: Dogs in pain may be reluctant to receive touches. Prepare your dog for massaging by touching its body gently. Talk to them gently and call out their name calmly to relieve their anxiety.

  4. Start with tight muscle groups: Refrain from directly massaging your dog’s joints affected by arthritis as this could cause discomfort and pain. Start by stroking the neck and making your way down the back. Stimulate the muscles in its shoulders and legs gently with gentle strokes or kneading.

  5. Promote movement and flexibility: After going through your pet’s muscles, try guiding its body so it can move more comfortably. For example, you can gently stretch each of its legs back and forth for better mobility and flexibility. Just make sure you pay attention to body language and don’t force it if your dog shows signs of discomfort. 

Massaging can help relieve canine arthritis but it requires consistency. After all, it’s a special technique that can help improve your dog’s quality of life and reduce its pain symptoms. Consult your vet about how frequently you should massage your pet for maximum benefit.

To learn more about how you can help your dog manage arthritis and other dog injuries, explore the TLPOInfo blog.

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