Max is a large hunting dog, used to scent, track and chase big game across rough terrain. After returning from their most recent hunting trip in the mountains, Max’s owner notices that he seems a little stiff and sore. Maybe he overdid it!
Big dogs can have big orthopedic and muscle problems. Many connective tissue and musculoskeletal conditions are common in large dogs because of their increased weight, conformation and structure, and their high activity level. Large working dogs, especially, are subject to joint and muscle strain while traveling over rough terrain outdoors, running hard, and making sharp twists and turns herding livestock or hunting game.
Even if your big dog is not a working dog, large limbs exert lots of strain on muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints when playing or running, or as your dog ages. A massage to loosen overworked muscles, get fluids moving and to lubricate joints for better movement as well as to increase blood flow and oxygenation to tissues, can be helpful for relieving soreness and helping injuries heal in your big dog. He may seem tough, but your large dog may need a little TLC in the form of a massage if he strains or injures himself!
Most big dogs are pretty appreciative of a massage, providing it is introduced slowly and done gently. Dogs do not appreciate deep tissue massages, which can be painful. Unlike humans, who understand the therapeutic benefits of intensive massage, your dog is not going to understand if aggressive massage hurts. Although you can use firmer pressure massaging a big dog than a small dog, you will still need to be cautious and apply pressure slowly to determine what your dog feels comfortable with.
Remember, big dogs have large limbs that support big muscles and bulk. They are subject to injury and strain from work or routine activity. Massage your big dog by getting down to his level or having him sit on a sturdy surface. It may be easier to massage a big dog while he is lying or sitting down. Do not apply to much pressure; let your dog’s reactions guide you.