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Canine Physiotherapy: Stretching, and weight-bearing exercises

Rooney loves Canine Physiotherapy

Rooney the 7 year-old Labrador loves his Canine Physiotherapy sessions. Just like his footballing namesake, Rooney loves showing off! He is shown here stretching his hip joints using a type of gym ball which we call our peanut because of its shape. As it only rolls forward and back it is easier to control its movement so the dogs are less likely to be frightened.

Once the dogs have got used to it their weight can be adjusted from back legs to front, and increased or decreased as required. It is a great tool for stretching out the shoulder joints to increase the range of movement and help to maintain joint mobility. Similarly, the hip joints can be extended backwards with no undue force, as Rooney demonstrates in this photo. Dogs which have had limited weight-bearing on hind or fore- limbs can be rocked gently, with the peanut carrying much of their body weight on their tummies. For this canine physiotherapy exercise the peanut would be on the ground, or with a much larger dog it would be used on a platform so there would be no danger of it rolling off a raised surface.

Canine Physiotherapy

Canine Physiotherapy: Stretching, and weight-bearing exercises

Canine Physiotherapy stretching exercises are also performed during canine massage: this is “passive” stretching, when the action is brought about by the therapist and not by the effort of the dog. Experienced therapists can “feel” when the dog reaches his or her limit in the extension or flexion of its joint, so it is not something to attempt to perform on your dog without training.

There is some controversy about whether stretching is valuable during warm up routines prior to racing, agility or flyball because muscle must be warm before any stretching is performed. Clearly there is an element of risk if this is done incorrectly, so we take great care when putting a dog through stretches, whether passive or active.

If you own a dog that could benefit from Canine Physiotherapy or have any questions we would love to hear from you. Please feel free to use the comment box below or contact us here.

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