How to Give a Dog a Massage for Arthritis

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Medium
15 - 30 Minutes
1 Day

Introduction

As Sherman has aged, he is starting to slow down a little bit. More importantly, you are starting to notice the first signs of arthritis setting into his joints. He has a hard time getting up after a long nap, yelps a bit when you pick him up, and might shy away at first. But once he gets used to the warm feeling of your hands gently massaging his stiff joints and muscles, he is likely to just lay there and let you work your miracles. 

Dog's Perspective

Sherman is about ten years old and his best days may be behind him, but that doesn’t mean he wants to live with the pain of arthritis. He is right, there is no reason why he should when all you have to do is learn how to give him a daily massage. Take your time and be gentle but firm. In time, he will come to appreciate your hard work. 

The Establish a Connection Method

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Step
1
Laying of the hands
Start out by laying your hands on Sherman's side or back. Nothing more, nothing less. All you are trying to do at this time is establish a "connection" between the two of you. This can also prove to be a good bonding experience for the both of you.
Step
2
Warm up the pup
Using long, gentle strokes, run your hands along the full length of Sherman's body. This will help warm him up and relax him. Feel free to use blankets to enhance the warmth and provide a cozy environment.
Step
3
Small circles
Start out using your thumbs, rubbing in small circles along his spine. You can also walk up and down his spine with your fingers. This helps with lymphatic drainage, spinal health, and overall blood circulation.
Step
4
Tight muscles
Think of kneading dough, then apply this action to kneading Sherman's tight muscles. This will help to stimulate circulation deep in the tissues and loosen muscle fibers. Remember not to pull, tug, or twist on any part of his body, as this can hurt and cause injury.
Step
5
A leg to stand on
Finish up by massaging his legs all the way down to the tips of his toes. Pay very close attention to his joints such as elbows, as this is where the arthritis sets in and where the most pain is likely to be. Give him a treat and somewhere warm to relax once you are finished.
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The Pet Me All Over Method

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Step
1
Pet me first
Before doing anything else, you need to spend some time petting poor Sherman all over. Do this for a couple of minutes and then concentrate on the area where his arthritis is located.
Step
2
Slowly stroke
Keep rubbing the area using light pressure. This will help improve circulation and warm the area up. Do this as long as you'd like, or as long as Sherman is willing to put up with it. If it truly feels good, he'll likely be content to stay there all day.
Step
3
Not directly on the joints
You should never apply pressure or massage Sherman's painful joints as this will only cause him more pain. Instead, keep massaging the areas around the joint to ease the muscles and nerves that can cause the joints to ache.
Step
4
Lightly knead
Using your fingers, knead any tight muscles lightly. Do not overdo it as this can damage the muscles. You can alternate between kneading these areas and repeating your earlier petting and stroking to break up the massage into pleasant sections.
Step
5
Alternate
Alternate your therapy between light strokes and gentle kneading as this will help improve circulation through the muscles. You can use treats or a soft toy to occupy Sherman's mouth and keep him interested in the entire process. Otherwise, you can allow him to fall asleep if he's comfortable enough.
Step
6
To the last pet
Finish up by petting Sherman lightly all over to bring him down and then give him a treat or two. He may be content to go into a nap or get up and stretch. Always finish massages on a good note so that he is eager to come back for more.
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Caution & Considerations

  • Never apply pressure to his joints or try to massage them directly, as this can lead to further injury and possibly permanent damage. 
  • Be gentle at all times as too much pressure can cause Sherman a lot of pain.
  • Always stroke or pet first to help warm up the muscles to further reduce the risk of causing injury.
  • Alternate your massage techniques to get the best results.
  • Take your time as arthritis can be quite painful. There is no hurry to get this done.
  • At the same time, you can overdo it, so keep the sessions relatively short. 
  • Talk to Sherman and soothe him as you work, as it will make things go much better. 
  • Always consult a veterinarian if Sherman has an injury that needs special attention or tending to. Never try to massage an extreme injury as you can make it worse or exacerbate the area. Be sure to listen to any advice that the veterinarian offers you regarding injuries and other conditions. 

Conclusion

Just because Sherman is getting older and starting to have problems with arthritis, there is nothing like spending a few minutes giving him a thorough, all over body massage. It will help reduce his pain levels, improve his overall circulation, and make it much easier for him to move around again. Sherman will be able to do much more with enough attention to the right spots. 

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