Dog Arthritis Massage | Marc Smith, DVM | www.nashvilletnvet.com
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Dog Arthritis Massage | Marc Smith, DVM | www.nashvilletnvet.com

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DOG ARTHRITIS MASSAGE by Dr. Marc Smith, www.nashvilletnvet.com

Hello ladies and gentlemen! I’m Dr. Marc Smith of Natchez Trace Veterinary Services in Nashville and Franklin, Tennessee, and also creator of VetCareLibrary.com, a new, all-encompassing website that answers and gives you up-to-date information on any pet healthcare question or topic that you may have.

Today I am here to talk to you about massage for dog arthritis. I get questions all the time “Dr. Smith, how can I help my dog at home with arthritis?” What can I do to alleviate his pain?”

Besides giving a medication that I instruct and tell people to use, and following the techniques I tell people to use, another thing you can do is massage your dog.

Today Becki and I are going to teach you and show you some tips on the best way to alleviate your dog’s pain through massage.

All right, meet Stella. Stella is not the prototype that you will be performing the massage on, because Stella is a young dog. However, she is very laid back and she’s a great dog to illustrate our point of how to massage your dog.

The first place we are going to focus on is the stifle. The stifle is otherwise known as the knee in the dog. You can see Becki’s hands, she’s right in the area of the stifle.

The stifle is a common place for arthritis because of cranial cruciate rupture or ACL tears in the dog. Becki is performing a variety of techniques. She is using her fingers to massage the muscles and joints, and now she is using her knuckles to apply pressure over a wider area. She can also use her palm, and Becki can also take that joint through it’s full range of motion by flexing and extending the area.

Now occasionally, kind of like Stella–she doesn’t like that–and that’s OK. So what we do in those situations is that we take the joint right to the point where it hurts and we hold it there. Hold it for 10 seconds, and let it sit there.

What that does is breaks down a lot of the adhesions that form, either from a surgery, from arthritis, from trauma to the leg, or from any other reason that the leg is not utilized and used and extended and flexed through its full range of motion.

So that is the stifle region. The next region we are going to go to is the hip.

The hip is a unique joint in the dog. Becki, show us where the hip is. OK, there’s the hip, right in that area. The hip is the place where the femur,which is the long bone of your thigh, attaches to the pelvis). This is kind of a socket joint, where there is a ball that sits in a socket, kind of like where a light bulb sits in a light fixture.

And so there’s a couple of different ways to massage this joint. As you’ll see Becki doing right now, she is actually using her fingers to massage the whole area of the hip. See it going around and around and around. She’s also using her palm to apply pressure evenly over the area.

The hip is unique because it’s a joint that moves in 360 degrees. She’s now taking that hip through it’s full range of motion, and every once in a while this will cause dogs… they’ll resent this. Especially an older dog that has hip arthritis. But this is good because it keeps the muscle supple, it keeps the muscles going through their range of motion, and it helps to strengthen the muscles and ultimately alleviate pain.

Now she can do that in that direction, or she can take it and do it in the other direction. She can also do it by flexing it and extending the stifle at the same time. Now this is a little bit more vigorous exercise and can cause more pain or objection, but it’s a good exercise to keep that leg rolling and to keep that leg moving, and to hopefully eliminate pain through massage.

The next area we are going to move on to is the back. Becki, can you show us where the back is? The back, if you feel down the center of your dog’s back, you will feel some small, little protuberances or little points, and those are the dorsal spinus process of the vertebral bodies. On each side of those little points are two muscles, and lots of times those muscles will get tight, they’ll get painful they’ll get inflamed when a dog has back arthritis.

So we can actually massage those two areas, and right now Becki is running down the length of those two muscles, putting pressure–about as much pressure you would put if you were trying to draw a line in the sand, let’s say, with your fingers.

She’s putting pressure on those two muscles. Now she can do that focally. If you know exactly where your dog hurts, let’s say in the throaco-lumbar region, OK, which is kind of the middle of the very center of the back. If you know exactly where your dog hurts, then you can apply pressure directly to that area by using your thumb and forefinger and doing what she’s doing.

Now the only thing I’d encourage you to do is to put it on both sides of the back, not just one side.

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