Benefits of canine physical therapy – a case study

We know that massage & physical therapy work (otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it) but some folk still need convincing. Here is Coco who clearly shows how just a couple of treatment session plus homework from her Mum, helped her recover full mobility.

Coco is a 3 year old Schnauzer / Chihuahua cross who recently had an accident which broke her left tibia. It was successfully repaired at the end of January with a pin placed into tibia and a plate in the medial aspect of bone. She was walking almost immediately on the affected leg but after a week she stopped using it and that leg became non-weightbearing with resultant muscle loss and over compensation on her other three legs.

It is evident from the picture that she didn’t want to use both hind legs, preferring to hop.

Chris was invited over to try and encourage Coco to use her left hind leg again and help to regain her confidence with all legs before a second X-Ray in a couple of weeks. She was very responsive to Chris’s touch and rehab exercise routine. He helped her stand squarely before gently raising her ‘good’ hind leg while supporting her, encouraging her to place her weight back on the affected one. After a while the left hind leg was considerably straighter and placed on the floor. A big problem was the slippy laminate floor. Coco’s recovery would be slower if she keeps slipping while trying to stabilise her gait.



Massage to her thigh and gluteal muscles was another main part of the therapy session, helping to build them back up again to, again, rebuild her confidence and ability to stand on all fours. Equally important was maintenance massage to her shoulder and neck muscles which had been taking a lot of the compensatory strain.

One week later and Coco’s Mum has been doing her homework diligently. It was so evident.

Coco came bounding to meet Chris looking far more comfortable. And then there was the appearance of a rug!!!!!! Coco was happily standing and not slipping. That is not just a good Mum but a great Mum.

Muscle mass was evident on her affected thigh and the shoulders, which were tight through compensation, were looser.

During the massage routine, far less fur was coming off too. Dogs tend to hold their anxiety in their fur and often shed bucket loads in the first massage. But as they relax, any myofascial tension is relaxed allowing blood and nutrients to get back into the skin and fur. This is frequently demonstrated by less shedding during the massage. Coco is hopefully well on the road to full recovery. Certainly, both she AND her Mum were far more relaxed. With just a couple of physical therapy sessions and a Mum empowered to keep up the good work, that is a job done.

Does massage and physical therapy work? Well here are a couple of responses from caers of dogs we have treated in the past.

Sonny’s Mum, who we helped back in June last year after Avascular Necrosis affected both his hip joints and had Femoral Head Excision on both hips, wrote after reading the post yesterday “Oh it definitely works. Sonny is living proof of that thanks to you 💙”

And the final word needs to go to the Lord Nelson’s Dad who is a lawyer Dad of Lord Nelson ” Does massage and physical work? Exhibit A – Pre AchyPaw: Lord Nelson could hardly put weight on his back legs especially when he first got up. Had difficulty jumping up and could only manage stairs one step at a time. Vet confirmed no physiological damage. Exhibit B – Post AchyPaw: he now hops on and off the sofa without any problem, goes up and down the stairs one leg at a time like other dogs, even his posture is different, and is a much more lively dog. I rest my case ’mlord”

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