Future Client: Will massage therapy help my dog's arthritis?
Me: YES! Yes, yes, yes!
And now for the longer answer…
Arthritis is one of the most common ailments an older pet can suffer from. It is a chronic pain that occurs when an unstable joint causes the bones to move abnormally within the joint. Over time this unnatural movement causes the cartilage that lines the joints to erode. Then the bone rubs against bone, which creates chronic inflammation. Large and Giant breed dogs are probably the most prone, but it can happen in any dog or cat breed.
Massage therapy eases arthritis because it improves range of motion by stimulating blood circulation to the bone, directly nourishing it. Regular sessions keep joints well nourished and therefore well lubricated, which maintains, and even increases, range of motion. Your pet experiences less pain, and their mobility improves.
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So, how can you tell if your dog or cat has arthritis? You need to get an official diagnosis from a vet (they would do an physical exam, an x-ray or possibly an analysis of joint fluid to determine if arthritis is affecting your animal), but there are a few clues to watch out for:
Dogs and cats that are overweight have a more difficult time with arthritis, therefore one of the best things you can do, besides massage therapy, is make sure your arthritic pet is a good weight. Supplementation is also a possibility (glucosamine, chondroitin, fatty acids), but keep in mind that getting the balance right in your pet's diet is not easy and should be done with the advice of your vet. Your vet may also recommend CBD oil or pain medication.
You might also consider hydrotherapy wraps — in this case, hot wraps placed strategically over the arthritic area(s). This is a service I also provide, but soon I will also have a Hydrotherapy How-To (for dogs) video uploaded, so that you can try this method on your own (with your vet's okay).
Light exercise (brief and frequently throughout the day, rather than longer play sessions or walks) to keep the joints loose and to help tone those atrophied muscles can be helpful, especially while the arthritis is in an earlier stage. Traction is important, too, so make sure to have plenty of carpeting for your pet to walk on (in some cases you can also use socks with tracking pads on the soles, if your pet will wear them). Ramps or steps to help your pet get up and down from the couch or bed will be appreciated, too. A comfortable and supportive bed will also go a long way. For more information about keeping your pet safe from common injuries, download my "5 Tips To Keep your Pet Healthy and Happy At Home...Between Massage Therapy Sessions" document HERE.
Thanks for reading the first post of my new blog series! Want 50% off your next (or first) pet massage session? Email/Call/Text me with the code word ARTHRITIS when you book — anytime before October 22nd, 2019.
Also, keep in mind that for conditions like arthritis, a group of three-four massages close together (no more than one week apart each) is the most effective way to tackle both pain and mobility. I offer packages of four massages for large dogs ($216), medium/small dogs ($168) and cats ($120), which will save you 20%!
Look for my next post in the series, which deals with how massage helps pets with anxiety, Tuesday October 22nd…
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Regan is a certified Canine Massage Therapist (CCMT), has certification in First Aid and CPR for Pets, and some beginner training in Herbal Remedies and Aromatherapy for personal use.