Dog House Canine Massage Therapy
Dog House Canine Massage Therapy

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Common Conditions



Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in a dog and is widespread in older dogs. It is a degenerative joint disease that produces an inflammation, resulting in pain in the joints. Frequently referred to as the “wear and tear disease from constant use”, yet it is in fact the cartilage within the joint that acts as cushion that is worn down. It is the most common cause of pain in elderly dogs – a chronic disease that will cause a dog severe pain and reduced mobility.


It is caused by the gradual inflammation and deterioration of soft tissue, cartilage and bone in one or several joints. The cartilage in the dog’s joints breaks down and causes friction between the bones. Inflammation can also thicken the soft tissue and cause bony growth on the joints. Athletic and active dogs are more likely to develop arthritis, as are overweight dogs – their joints being under more stress. It can also be connected to continual trauma to the joints or old injuries.


* Visible stiffness and visible pain

* Muscle wastage

* Lethargic and less active

* Finds it hard to stand up, climb stairs, climb in and out of cars

* Jump

* Loss of appetite

* It can cause cracking sounds when the joint is moved (Crepitus)

* There can be a change in the dog’s ability to bark

* Suffer from depression and become anxious

* Have muscle spasms

* Fluid on joints

* Problems urinating or defecating

* Loss of proprioception in limbs

* Change in behaviour

* May suffer in extreme weather conditions

Benefits of Canine Massage - Osteoarthritis

* Makes the muscles more supple

* Will relax stiff muscles and the muscles groups which are overcompensating

* Will soothe overcompensating limbs

* Reduces inflammation and pain

* Improves circulation in affected areas

* Gives relief from muscle tension

* Will stimulate the dog’s range of motion in their joints

* Improve mobility and flexibility

* It can slow down the process




Spondylosis (also known as Ankylosing Spondylitis) is an ageing and inflammatory disease of the intervertebral discs, it is characterised by bony spurs (which are known as osteophytes) which grow on the ventral and lateral surfaces of the vertebrae. The dog may have decreased flexibility than before, but this is not enough to decrease their quality of life.


The exact reason behind Spondylosis is not fully understood. Bony spurs can appear where there are a lot of damaged joint surface areas. Other causes can be diet, repetitive pressure on the same joints or bones, slipped disk.


The dog may not show any clinical signs of this disease, although the dog may show signs as follows:

* Has trouble walking, gait irregularities

* Reluctance to sit down

* Shows little flexibility

* Loses balance

* Stiffness

* Pain/tenderness in certain areas

* Muscle weakness

Benefits of Canine Massage - Spondylosis

Gentle massage can give the dog relief from pain and comfort. It is helpful with controlling referred pain. By easing the surrounding tissues which are exerting pressure on the nerve, a greater level of mobility and flexibility can be achieved.



Also known as a floating kneecap or trick knee. The patella will dislocate and slide out of its normal position. The femur has a groove which consists of two bony ridges, this groove allows the patella to move up and down. In some dogs the groove is too shallow and the two bony ridges are not as large as they need to be. The patella can then luxate - jump out of the groove sideways. The dog’s leg will lock and he will keep it off the ground. Unless it is treated the groove will become more shallow and will cause the dog to become lame.


* Breeding and genetics of the dog

* Malformation of the patella and groove whilst the dog is growing

* Stretched patella ligament

* Trauma to the knee

* Strain injuries to the knee joint


* Usually occurs in middle aged dogs

* Sudden stopping running around and cries in pain

* Holding affected leg off ground and then return to normal activity to 10 minutes later

* Lack of natural movement in the stifle

* Some dogs develop serious symptoms limping and holding the affected leg for many days

Benefits of Canine Massage - Luxating Patella

* Areas of overcompensation and referred pain can be minimised

* Reduces pain, stiffness, soreness and discomfort

* Reduces tightness in the spine

* Can length the muscles which attach or insert around the patella

* Allows the dog to stay agile and energetic

* Can aid recovery following operations

* Influences the body’s natural healing process




The ball and socket of the hip joint do not fit together and move as they should do. The joint should allow the hip to move around freely and be flexible. If the ball does not fit properly it will cause friction which will in turn cause damage to the joint and be very painful for the dog. The dog puts weight onto the joint, and the friction strains the joint. Eventually this will cause permanent damage to the cartilage and inflammatory proteins will be released into the hip.

HD is mainly hereditary, dogs developing HD as puppies and at a very young age, list of causes below. It can also develop over years with environment, diet, weight, exercise and bedding being factors to contribute to its onset.

The dog will have reduced movement in the hip and can manifest itself as “bunny hopping” or less active movements and stiffness. The dog’s body will compensate for the hip by adapting the way it uses its spine, which can cause problems with the spine, stifle and possibly other soft tissue difficulties. In later years this condition will lead to osteoarthritis.


* Ball and socket do not articulate correctly

* Badly developed muscles in the pelvic area

* Hereditary

* Overweight

* Dog has sustained an injury or suffered overexertion at an early age


* Reluctance to exercise, jump

* Bunny-hopping whilst walking or running

* Limping

* Crying out in pain

* Difficulties with travelling up and down stairs/getting up

* Stiff in the mornings

* Lameness after exercise, particularly in rear limbs

* Joint capsule becomes damaged via strain and friction

* Inflammation

Benefits of Canine Massage - HD

* Aids in pain relief and improves quality of life

* Gives relief from tension and tenderness

* Strengthens muscles and relieves tension in other muscles of the body

* Aids mobility and increases flexibility

* Makes the dog happier

* Increases lymphatic drainage and thereby reduces inflammation




Elbow dysplasia is the abnormal development of the elbow joint. The three bones of the joint – humerus, radius and ulna do not fit together properly which leads to abnormally high contact pressure. As the joint grows, the joint will develop problems in the cartilage or the bone. The joint will be unable to move or articulate properly. Secondary osteoarthritis can follow ED. The elbow will become swollen and is painful. As the joint becomes thickened with arthritis, the dog will have a restricted range of movement.


* Over exercising a young dog/excessive use of stairs

* Injuring the joint

* Poor diet

* Genetic


* Intermittent lameness

* Limping

* Pain

* Swollen joint

Benefits of Canine Massage – Elbow Dysplasia

* Pre surgical conditioning and post-operative rehabilitation

* Helps the areas where the body is overcompensating

* Relieves other areas of pain

* Reduces tenderness and pressure throughout the entire body




The stifle is stabilised by two ligaments which criss/cross inside the knee joint to give the knee support. They allow the knee to be flexible and move in the correct direction. Cruciate Ligament damage is a common injury which occurs to this joint. The ligament will rupture, tear or in some cases severe completely from its point of attachment to the bone. The leg will become unstable and weak and the dog will become lame.

The sprain to the ligament can be graded into four types of sprain:

Grade 1 - Minor injury causing small tear which will stretch the ligament out of shape

Grade 2 - Moderate injury which the ligament is partially torn, the joint will be unstable and will “give way” when stood or walking. Will be swollen

Grade 3 - Complete rupture of the ligament, causing instability, considerable pain and swelling

Grade 4 - Ligament breaks and takes with it small pieces of bone, causes complete loss of balance. Considerable pain and swelling

Grades 1 and 2 can be treated by conservative management, keeping the dog quiet, restricting exercise. With the other grades, surgery is the best option. Following surgery dogs will begin to use their good leg more frequently and will shift weight on their unaffected leg. This will unfortunately add more pressure on the good leg, making it prone to cruciate damage, tear or rupture. This can happen within 12 months of the initial surgery. By getting the dog to use all legs equally this will decrease the likelihood of this happening.


* Sudden twist of the knee

* Slipping on surfaces e.g. laminate flooring

* Overweight

* General wear and tear

* Stepping down a hole

* Falling off furniture

* Old injury e.g. old tear

* Weak and deteriorated muscles


* Limping

* Lameness

* Non-weight bearing on injured leg

* Sitting with injured leg abducted out

* Swollen stifle joint

* Cries in pain

Benefits of Canine Massage – Cruciate Ligament Damage

Grades 1 and 2 - massage can benefit by:

* Minimising pain

* Lessens areas of overcompensation

* Increases mobility

* Enables the dog to use their legs alike

* Enables the dog to bear its weight evenly

* Assists in strengthening the injured leg

* Decreases and minimizes areas of overcompensation and pain referral

Massage cannot be performed in Grades 3 and 4, but following surgery it can benefit by:

* encouraging the dog to use all his legs equally.

* builds muscle to stabilize the leg

* increases the mobility of the affected leg to minimize damage to the good leg.

* Increases recovery time after the operation and makes the recuperation time more comfortable



Benefits of Canine Massage for breaks and fractures

Massage can only take place once the healing process has taken place. Massage will:

* Reduce swelling and inflammation and give relief from pain

* Increases the healing process and strengthens the injured limb

* Reduce stress in overcompensating muscles

* Can reduce scar tissue

* Increases mobility and flexibility

* Improve gait


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maintaining and improving your dog’s general wellbeing

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