There is a great benefit of physical therapy and rehabilitation to help your dog. But can you do any of that at home?
Of course, that depends. If you don’t know what you’re doing you could cause harm or make no difference at all. Although gentle massage is always great it might not be effective. It is always best to seek help and guidance.
Thank you, Sonia Singh, for sharing Nala’s story.
Nala’s limp started first thing one morning, as soon as she tried to get up.
She stood up to greet me, then after putting weight on her front leg once immediately picked up her paw and hopped over to me. That’s not normal.
I took her to the vet, where they couldn’t find anything abnormal from the physical exam. The vet recommended x-rays to check for skeletal causes and a blood test for valley fever. Here in Arizona, valley fever is a common ailment for both people and pets with recovery time up to a year, so it’s not something to mess with. The first symptom in dogs is often lameness as a result of lesions on bones and joints.
Price tag: $200 for the valley fever test, plus $300 for the x-rays and sedation.
Results: no valley fever, elbow dysplasia unrelated to the limp, and a calcium growth on her sternum possibly, but not likely, related to the limp. The vet prescribed a common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and sent us on our way.
Frustrated, I took Nala home with no real progress on her limp.
She didn’t seem bothered by it – in fact, she had picked up speed on three legs and didn’t seem to care that one was unusable. But I didn’t want to keep giving her drugs that weren’t doing anything for her and leave the real problem to continue.
What about massage?
A couple of days later, having seen no improvement in Nala’s leg and still in the dark about what caused it, I found myself at a free workshop on dog massage.
It was conducted by a veterinarian who practices traditional Chinese veterinary medicine, something I had never heard of. She gave a phenomenal class on how to massage your dog, including where to focus for various symptoms.
That night I gave Nala her first doggie massage, with special attention on areas for pain relief and inflammation reduction.
I thought it might be hard to get her to sit still, or that she would respond to areas that hurt her, but nothing. Nala lay on her bed and soaked it up happily. The next day, I gave her two more massages, one in the morning and one at night.
Nala feels better
The next morning, Nala was walking normally on all four legs!
I kept up the message for a day or two more to prevent any aggravation – after all, like most active dogs my Nala doesn’t know to go easy on an injury. Still, the limp never came back. Price tag: $0. Results: A pain-free dog.
To this day, I have no idea what caused Nala’s limp.
Her medical record shows no sign of an explanation or cure. Her dad swears I have healing hands, but of course, there’s more to it than that. Massage based on thousands of years of medical understanding did the trick.
DIY Physical Therapy for Dogs: What Can You Do at Home?
How to Massage Your Dog