Most dogs love a good pat and a fuss, but if your canine companion has an area he likes you to work on a lot (or even avoid touching!), then he may be trying to tell you something more.

Like us, dogs suffer from aches and pains which have many causes. Running on tarmac, agility work, lots of ball catching, accidents and operations or just plain asymmetry in their bodies from birth can cause uneven loading, pressure and pain within the body.

Dogs like to disguise any pain so they don’t look like the weak and vulnerable member of the pack. For example if one leg is stiff they may favour the opposite, but this then makes two legs (or more) sore and the problem grows worse, often causing early-onset arthritis, cruciate ligament problems or other potentially avoidable issues.

No-one wants their best buddy to be in pain, but it can be difficult for many owners to spot. Especially if it has happened gradually over time so you think “Oh, that’s just Rex. He has always had trouble jumping onto the lounge.” Except that ‘Rex’ is only four and should be springing about like a crazy hound! See case study one (below) – Spike, aged 5.

Happily there is a solution. Canine massage therapy can help your dog to feel himself again, whether young or old. Canine massage therapy will restore maximum flexibility to your dogs musculature, and even a dog with advanced issues such as canine arthritis can really benefit. For example red light (photonic) therapy is very effective for canine arthritis so severe that almost nothing else can be tolerated.  See case study two (below) – Meg, forelimb amputee, aged 11

I have a range of different modalities that I blend and tailor to each individual dog, including canine sports massage, red light (photonic) therapy, animal acupressure, canine myofascial release and deep tissue mobilisation for dogs.

I can also help with specific exercise for the rehabilitation of your dog if required, so a session could include warm up canine massage therapy and specific stretching, specific exercise to target and build up weak muscles then further massage therapy and specific stretching to relax and de-toxify those canine muscles we are bringing back to work.

Signs your dog may need some massage therapy:

  • Consciously positioning himself so you always stroke a particular area.  Commonly the mid or lower back (thoraco-lumbar or lumbo-sacral region)
  • Avoiding having you stroke a particular area – this is an indicator of tenderness and pain, not ticklishness as we often think
  • Any skin twitching or spasming
  • Excessive self stretching.  Dogs do stretch when they wake up naturally, but excessive stretching is a sign there is tension they are trying to release and can’t quite get there.
  • Lots of rolling.  Just like stretching, dogs will naturally roll from time to time as this is another way to scratch or stretch different areas.  However if your dog is rolling a lot, it may be a sign of a tense or sore area he cannot get to himself.
  • An unevenness in the movement. Is there a limp or a head bob? Look at how your dog moves with ‘fresh eyes’. try to compare one side with the other, and also front to back.  Are his legs moving evenly and straight compared with the others?  This is pretty difficult so try to get someone else to lead him and do at least a few times in walk and trot on an even surface.

Red light therapy for dogs.  Louise Bailey canine massage therapy.

Dogs receiving red light (photonic) therapy as part of a canine massage therapy session with Louise Bailey.

Louise Bailey canine massage therapy
Canine massage therapy – gentle neck release.

Case study One – Spike, aged 5, rescue dog.

Spike was found abandoned, emaciated and terrified as a 3 year old.  He still suffers anxiety and this also pre-disposes him to muscular tension.  Although Spike is a young dog he has been getting progressively more stiff, and on a recent walk he was noticeably lame on his left hind leg and struggled to cock either leg to urinate. On palapation and dynamic assessment I found poor range of motion through the stifle and hip joints in the left hindleg, and over-use and subsequent tension in the right hindleg. This compensation had travelled throughout his body, as both Spike’s front legs were needing to work harder to support a weak hindleg.  Spike’s neck and shoulders were also over-used and sore as they worked harder to help pull that left leg forward.  The asymmetry was affecting many muscles through the back as they tried to stabilise the torso, and Spike positively grinned with pleasure at his first, gentle treatment.  NB picture is out of focus as photographer was also grinning!



Case Study Two – Meg, aged 11, forelimb amputee with cruciate ligament degeneration.

Meg is a forelimb amputee, plus an older Rottweiler x Mastiff. and had begun to limp with the hind leg on the same side as the amputation. Her vet diagnosed posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) degeneration, however operating was not an option due to her previous amputation.  I have been using massage and red light therapy with Meg, and there has been a marked improvement in her movement.  Occasionally Meg takes a tumble in between my visits and when I walk through the door, she knows I will make things better – licking my face as I begin.  This picture beautifully illustrates a gentle PCL passive stretch with the stifle and hip joints supported, following red light treatment and a thorough massage of the area to both relax, and move blood and toxins to allow cell regeneration (healing).

meg masage



Give me a call or drop me an email to discuss your dog’s needs.
Ph: 0418 908 985

© 2015 by Louise Bailey