Betty is an amazing girl with a very sweet temperament approaching her fourteenth year.  

She has always led an active lifestyle but over the last few years her doting family noticed she was starting to slow down a little. Her movements were becoming stiffer. She stopped wanting to jump into the car or onto the bed. Seemed tender in her lower back and started losing muscle mass in her hind quarters.  

Through a combination of reviewing Betty’s past versus present functionality, palpation, observation and x-rays it was determined that Betty is suffering from arthritis. Research suggests that up to 80% of dogs over 8 years old (and potentially 35% of all dogs over 1 year of age) will have a degree of osteoarthritis present so Betty is certainly not alone in her condition. While arthritis currently does not have a cure, employing a multi-modal approach tailored for the individual, we can help slow its progression and aid in maintaining a good level of comfort in our canine companions. Betty is no exception.

Exercise management, weight control, medication for pain relief, supplements supporting joint health, a step allowing independent access into the car are all part of Betty’s daily routine, along with regular vet assessments. All these little things combined have had a great effect in keeping Betty mobile and comfortable over the last few years. But she was still displaying some stiffness in her movements particularly in her lower back and hind limbs. Was there more that could be done? 

At the beginning of 2023 Halifax Vets were very excited to offer a brand new service – Canine Remedial Massage clinics. Betty was a prime candidate and hasn’t looked back since. She started her massage journey off with some Goodwill Visits.  These are short 10-15 minute visits to help build trust with the room and Vet Nurse Jo who runs the clinics. The massage clinics are ‘choice led’ meaning there is minimal restraint so the patients need to be willing participants. For slightly anxious, nervous or cautious dogs the goodwill visits help put their minds at ease and gradually introduce them to the massage process.  Betty figured the system out pretty quickly and now walks into the room, ahead of her owner’s, tail wagging.

The aim of Betty’s massage sessions is to help complement the arthritic management strategies she already has in place, focusing on pain relief and muscular comfort. It is also a lovely, novel activity for her that is relaxing and rewarding without being physically demanding.  By learning and continuing some of the massage techniques at home between visits, Betty’s family have been hugely contributing to maintaining her comfort levels, picking up on any areas that need work or veterinary investigation sooner and are spending more interactive, quality one-on-one time with Betty. 

“Betty has had THE best few days since we saw you…her energy levels are great. After her usual effleurage and heat pad last night, she woke up without any extra stiffness” 

Initially Betty was showing a lot of tenderness around her lower back and hind quarters, especially her left side. As a result, she was shifting more of her weight forward resulting in a lot of tension of her neck and shoulder area. Over the course of her massage visits she has progressed from weekly therapeutic visits to monthly maintenance sessions. The chronic tension she was carrying has lessened in all areas, her movements are freer and she is much more comfortable in her back and hind limbs. She is sitting and lying more squarely and has even started jumping onto the bed again!  

“We have really noticed a difference in her (Betty) since we’ve started seeing you and it brings us so much joy to see her with such enthusiasm and playfulness on a daily basis” 

Canine massage therapy is not limited to dogs with arthritis. This safe, non-invasive complementary therapy can help relieve muscular discomfort and promote relaxation in dogs of all ages, suffering from a range of conditions. There are a few very limited situations in which massage may not be a suitable therapy so veterinary advice is always recommended.  

If you feel your canine friend could benefit from a therapeutic pamper session please get in touch with Halifax Vets on (03) 548 3871 or jump online to find out more, or book your first session.