How to Massage a Dog With Weak Rear Legs

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A massage is effective therapy for your dog, whether it is young or old and active or passive. As dogs age, muscle strain and age-related degeneration may cause them to have weak rear legs. Additionally, dogs that suffer from arthritis and joint problems tend to have weak rear legs. If you want to massage a dog with weak rear legs, follow some simple massage techniques and other tips and tricks for strengthening a dog's hind legs.


Causes of weak rear legs

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There are a few causes of weak rear legs in dogs. Before you undertake a massage or rehabilitation program, it is important to be sure of the cause of your dog's hind limb weakness. Your vet will be able to explain if the cause is due to an injury, diabetes, or an inflammatory condition such as arthritis. Cushing's disease is a glandular disease that can cause a release of too much cortisol, which can also cause rear leg weakness in dogs, explains Bulldogology. Degenerative myelopathy is an age-related problem that can cause leg weakness.


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Dog rear leg massage

Giving your dog a massage can be a great way to bond with your dog and help her improve an injury or condition. Arthritis and joint problems can be soothed by massage. VetInfo says to start slowly until you are sure that your dog is comfortable to the touch and gets used to the attention. Keep the sessions short and watch for signs of pain or signs that your dog is agitated. There are several techniques for massaging your dog's rear legs.


  • Compression: Compression means pushing the muscle against the bone with a flat hand. It is like petting but more firm. Use this technique on shoulders, hips, and legs. Start with a light pressure and build up until you know your dog is enjoying it.

  • Effleurage: Effleurage means to glide your hand down your dog's spine in the direction of his fur. This too is a lot like petting. This is a good way to start because it is a touch he is probably already used to and enjoys. This works well on your dog's tail.

  • Petrissage: Petrissage consists of semicircular strokes on muscular areas. Use your palms and fingers on your dog's pain points. Press in a circle along the shoulders, hips, back, and legs.

  • Vibration: Vibration is a good way to end a massage. To do this, grasp your dog with your hand in a claw shape and gently shake and vibrate him. Only vibrate for a few seconds until you know he is enjoying it.

  • Rocking: Similar to vibration, rocking is also a good way to end a massage. Hold your dog similar to how you would hold a baby and rock him back and forth. This is a relaxing touch. If your dog enjoyed the other massage techniques, he could be very relaxed and ready for sleep when you are done.


Strengthening exercises for rear legs

According to Full Stride Myofunctional Therapy and Nutrition, dogs recovering from surgery and injury or dogs with chronic conditions such as hip dysplasia can improve with a combination of strengthening and remedial exercises.


Going for walks is a good strengthening and remedial exercise for most dogs; however, it is important to be sure that your dog is not in pain. Ortocanis says treatment using an electrical stimulator, such as a TENS unit or a heat pack, can help alleviate pain enough to take your dog for a walk. Walking the dog on a short leash and encouraging her to use her rear legs can give her the strength she needs.


Ortocanis also recommends encouraging your dog to sit and stand. Again, this should be a technique for when you know your dog is not in pain. Using a rear support harness can give your dog the extra support she needs until her legs become stronger.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.


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