DIY Canine Massage: How Dog Massage Healed Nala’s Mystery Limp

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.

DIY Canine Massage: How Dog Massage Healed Nala's Mystery Limp

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.

DIY Canine Massage: How Dog Massage Healed Nala's Mystery Limp

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.

Related articles:
DIY Physical Therapy for Dogs: What Can You Do at Home?

Further reading:
How to Massage Your Dog

Categories: Alternative treatmentsConditionsLimpingMassageReal-life Stories

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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