Watching Crufts over the last few days it’s clear that dogs are family, friends, companions, sports partners and work colleagues. Whether your dog detects cancer, competes at agility, herds sheep, provides cuddles or just listens to your singing without judgement … your dog is amazing.
Muscles are what hold your dog up and allow them to flex, twist, sprint and jump their way around an agility course. Your dog’s muscles allow them to control their way through an obedience heel-work round or carefully guide their blind companion from A to B without incident. Human muscles and dog muscles are very similar and they experience the same issues as us. Muscle strains, tendon inflammation and trigger points (we often call them knots) can occur in dogs and humans. These issues can slow down your sporting partner or make your cuddle buddy less inclined to join you on the sofa in the evening.
Dogs are quite good at hiding when they’re not feeling 100%. If a human is lame in a leg they only have one other leg to rely on – dogs have 3! This means it often takes a while to notice they might have an issue. If your dog has changed their behaviour then it might be worth getting them checked out.
If you think your dog isn’t moving the way they used to don’t assume they’re just ‘getting older’. Don’t dismiss your Terriers hop and skip as ‘that’s what all little dogs do’ and take note of your Labrador that seems stiff in his back legs. The first stop is the vet. Once the vet has diagnosed the problem then your second step might be…
A physio will help your dog get back to moving in a more balanced way. They use massage, specific exercises and laser or ultrasound to help your dog move in a more comfortable way.
These are therapists specialising in massage and relaxing muscles to reduce areas of tension.
Hydrotherapists use water based exercise to help your dog get stronger and move better in a safe way. They might use a pool or an underwater treadmill.
The most important things to look for in a therapist are:
If the answer to any of those questions is no then please walk away and find someone else!
My dogs Mac and Hudson both compete in agility. The strength and conditioning work I have done with them helps to keep them injury free. The massage and electrotherapies allow me to head off any ‘niggles’ before they become a real issue. We aspire to one day qualify for Crufts!