How to Massage a Dog with Bad Hips

5 - 15 Minutes
1 Day


Hip dysplasia or arthritis are common conditions in older dogs, especially in some breeds. While massage will not cure these conditions, it can provide temporary relief of pain in the hip joint, by loosening up the muscles in the area and allowing the joint better range of motion. If your dog has injured himself, muscles or ligaments in the hip area can go into spasm to support injured tissues. Massage to the hip area can increase blood supply, which removes toxins and increases oxygenation to injured tissues. Massage will also encourage muscles to relax, which will decrease your dog’s pain. Also, pain from an injury or a medical condition can result in changes in your dog's gait, which puts further strain on hip muscles and can result in muscle soreness in the hips.  If your dog has pain in his hips, rule out a degenerative condition that may require medication, as well as massage, to address.

Dog's Perspective

Most dogs appreciate a hip massage. The hips are not an area your dog considers invasive, and he is probably used to being petted and touched in the hip area, so massaging should not be difficult. However, if your dog is experiencing a lot of pain from a medical condition or injury, he may be more sensitive to being touched on his hips. You will want to proceed with caution so as not to cause discomfort and a negative reaction from your dog.

Caution & Considerations

  • Do not massage broken skin, or when skin conditions or infection are present.
  • Do not massage when there is an infection in tissues or joints.
  • Do not massage dislocated or broken limbs or hips.
  • Consult a veterinarian regarding hip pain of unknown origin, to determine if a medical condition is present that needs to be treated.
  • Do not force a massage if your dog indicates pain or discomfort
  • Try to work evenly on both sides, even if the injury is on one side, to achieve balance and prevent strain on muscles that are overcompensating for injuries.


Hip pain in dogs, as they age or from exertion when working or playing, is not uncommon. While a massage may not fix a chronic condition, it can provide pain relief and improve functioning in the area. Acute injuries can benefit from massage by relaxing muscles that have spasmed to immobilize injured tissues and by increasing blood flow to the area. Remember that even muscles that are not injured can overcompensate when injuries occur, especially in the hip, and will benefit from a massage to oxygenate and relax straining muscle tissues.  Be gentle and let your dog be your guide as to how much pressure to apply and where to apply it.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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