Massage Sessions With A Senior Dog With Declining Health…
I recently had the opportunity to have some massage sessions with a large 13.5 yr-old dog at an emergency hospital where she was admitted and received 2 major surgeries. Unfortunately her condition worsened, and her family eventually decided that it was time to let her go.
The reason the vets decided to bring me in was mainly for improving circulation.
Improved circulation is a preeminent physical benefit of massage. Many additional benefits derive from this primary effect.
Some of the additional effects of massage:
- Promotes healing by increasing the flow of nutrients to the muscles and carrying away toxins and excess fluids
- Releases endorphins, which are natural pain killers
- Softens muscle tissues resulting in better range of motion, prevention in atrophy (muscle wasting) and injuries
- Releases serotonin, which is a “happy” hormone.
She was a senior that had been laying down most of the day with tubes hooked up to her body.
Also she had some chronic/geriatric issues such as hip dysplasia and atrophy. Her legs would cross or knuckle due to less sensitivity in proprioception.
So do you see why the vets wanted to include massage sessions in the dog’s recovery process?
Caring For A Large-Sized Dog Is Not Easy!
As I visited her at the hospital twice a day, I got to see closely how vets and vet techs work in the back room.
Boy, I have a whole new appreciation for them. What they do is not easy!
Before a session, I had to ask a vet tech to help me get the dog out of bed and take her out to pee.
Halfway through session, I had to ask a vet tech to help me get the dog up and change sides.
It is NOT easy helping a large dog with mobility issues, especially with some sensitive areas/joints, as you can imagine.
Being Able to Walk Until The Very End
Ideally, all dogs should be able to walk on their own until the end. This is one of my biggest hopes for every dog. I’m not just saying this because it is physically hard for you to assist a large dog. But being able to stand up on their own is crucial to the dogs’ mental health. Being able to walk gives dogs confidence.
When I first met with the dog at the hospital, she was still able to walk little bit. I remember one of the vets said to me hopefully; “She hasn’t given up!”
What Can We Do While Our Dogs Are Still Young?
Dealing With Joint Diseases And Injuries
Consult with your trusted vet and do your own research as to what options may work best for your dog.
If you decide not to go with a surgery, make sure you fully understand (1) the prognosis and (2) what type of care and support is necessary to manage the condition under control.
Muscular & Skeletal Maintenance
- It is important to let the tired muscles full of lactic acid rest before allowing your dog to do more physical activity
- Apply a heat pack (something like this ↓ ) while your dog is laying down resting
Typically, behind the shoulders and lower back is a good place to apply heat to release tension from the dog’s body. No matter how young the dog is, the muscles need to be loosened and relaxed regularly to prevent injuries.
- Pay attention to how your dog walks and notice any abnormalities. REMEMBER: Dogs are good at hiding pain.
- Revisit your dog’s diet. Does the food contain preservatives? By-products? Are you open to the idea of cooking for your dog or adding raw food?
- Consider adding joint supplements BEFORE you start seeing some signs of discomfort. ChodroPaw is what I personally used on my dog, Chuckie that helped him tremendously.
- Hydrate your dog’s body. If your dog’s main food is dry kibble, try adding veggies/fish/meat stock.
Preventative & Maintenance
- Consider providing massage regularly
- Consider providing acupuncture regularly
- Consider providing chiropractic adjustments regularly
Every little thing you do for you dog each day will determine how gracefully your dog ages.
Let’s start making changes today.