Disabled Dogs

If your dog is a tripawd, on wheels, living with a mobility issue or neurological deficit then you need to know that canine massage therapy can significantly help their quality of life. Areas of overcompensation, an altered gait, persistent limping or over stress on an area cause a myriad of muscular issues that often leads to the worsening of a condition as the muscles work harder to protectively splint non affected areas that are overcompensating for the mobility issue.

Canine Massage Therapy Is Suitable For:

– Tripawds or amputees
– CDRM (chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy)
– Immobilization of a limb due to injury
– Neurological disorders or deficits
– Chronic orthopaedic conditions
– Long term non-invasive care


Whatever your dog’s mobility issue a trained canine massage therapist helps to address chronic mobility issues, post operative recovery, areas of overcompensation and rehabilitation. Most importantly massage provides comfort and pain relief naturally. Many owners find that the common advice of swimming or putting an injured dog on a treadmill simply isn’t for their dog. Massage therapy helps to address patterns of tension, trigger points, myofascial pain and strains, many of which are harboured by the disabled dog due to their balance and stability being impeded and the muscular system having to work harder to stabilize the unaffected parts of the body.

Canine Massage Therapy Aims To:

– Improve balance and co ordination
– Provide pain management and bring comfort and relief
– Strengthen muscles by reducing restrictive trigger points
– Improve range of motion (ROM)
– Relieve areas of referred pain
– Address areas of overcompensation
– Aid in the recovery or improvement of normal movement
– Aid in proprioception and body awareness
– Reduce anxiety associated with pain

Massage Versus Wobble Cushions

You may read that putting your disabled dog onto a wobble cushion is a good idea. It’s not. And here’s why. Putting a disabled and unstable dog onto an unstable platform with the intent of ‘strengthening’ their muscles and ‘aiding proprioception’ will do your dog more harm than good. As the body is already off balance, is unsteady and struggling to find a comfortable pattern of support then putting your dog onto a wobble cushion hugely increases further chance of injury. The static load placed on the joint while it is under a sustained isometric contraction while on a wobble cushion leads to further stress placed on other joints that are not moving feely as well as the obvious stress placed on the affected joint/leg. Wobble cushion use, especially in arthritic cases, can lead to cartilage degradation and can worsen arthritis. Conversely when massage is used to address muscular and skeletal imbalances it helps to restore length, reduce hypertonicity, improve tissue flexibility and lubrication of the myofascial network.

Proprioceptors are actually sensory neurons or nerve cells found in the muscle, fascia and tendon. They give feedback to the body on limb positioning, muscle tension, muscle length as well as joint angle. The combined action of these functions is called proprioception.
Muscular and myofascial issues in the dog will not only mechanically inhibit the contractive action, force and stability of the muscle but also inhibit the sense of proprioception which relies on efficient feedback from the neuron to the CNS. Myofascial release for the dog is a sensible treatment option as through the use of this technique combined with massage muscular and fascial constrictions are released or improved which in turn aids in the efficiency of nerve impulses telling the brain where the body is. Enhanced proprioception is more likely by making the muscle and fascia functional again combined with safe, gentle prescribed exercise.

So basically improved fascia means improved neural feedback which improves motor, or movement, control. A course of 3 sessions should tell you if the therapy is suiting your dog.

If you are one of many who look at their dog and think – I wish I could do something to help them feel more comfortable? Well now you can. If you can’t see a therapist then check out our DVD of safe massage techniques for home use and adapt it to suit your dog.

Find your dog’s registered, fully trained therapist here