Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hands-on Massaging of Your Older Dog

Sometimes it takes a hands-on bonding experience to get through the day for you and your senior dog.

Massaging your older arthritic dog is not a cure by any stretch, but can make them feel a little more comfortable. I first learned about this practice with my first older dog who had arthritis and hip dysplacia. Much of what helped him during those achy rainy days were meds, but often those take time to act and were not the only tool I employed. Massaging is most effective as a way to stimulate circulation.

As a dog's skin is more sensitive than ours, it's best to wash your hands beforehand. It's probably also a good idea to do so afterwards, just in case your dog has a skin condition or likes rolling around in the dust (or mud or brushing up under bushes to scratch his or her butt).

Start off touching your dog in the areas you're going to massage to make sure they're OK with what you're doing. Run your hands over different areas to get a better understanding of tight spots. All dogs are different, so I didn't focus on the touching phase. It was only later that I learned about it in my research, but it makes a lot of sense. This gives you time to figure out if there are any places that you shouldn't be working and gives you the opportunity to find any new or changing lumps and bumps. If there's any pain, discomfort or different sized nodules that you find, it's best to check in with your veterinarian if you're concerned. For now it's best to move onto other areas of your achy pal's body and not massage any painful areas.

Don't perform deep tissue massages on your dog. He isn't a human and even if you have human massaging experience, you should NOT assume that the benefits are going to be the same. You shouldn't be doing any more than touching just enough to put enough pressure to feel the resistance of the skin.

There was one particular technique that helped out my old dog quite a bit was one that I found online (and of course cannot find now). In a nutshell, you run your fingers down either side of their spine. Don't press on the spine. Continue to run you fingers down from the top based of the spine to the base of their tail.

Like any health related article, check with your vet first. These are steps that have worked for me, but there's no warranty saying that they're the right thing for you and yours. For your reference I'm including a couple interesting articles that both backed up my own experiences, as well as added a new thought or two to this post.

Related articles:
How to Massage an Arthritic Dog
Dog Arthritis Pain Relief: How to Massage Your Dog