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When your dog’s muscle tissue is injured, inflammation and pain invade the area. Chemical substances like histamines and lactic acid release into the muscle cells causing abnormal contraction, spasms and tension. Usually free movement is restricted and can result in your dog “holding” his limb, neck or back in a compensating posture, distributing his weight asymmetrically and creating new stresses on the joints and bones. These things are the result of muscle injury (Schwartz, 1996).

Myofunctional (muscle) therapy works in a number of ways to speed healing, manage pain and strives to achieve balance. Among them:

  • It helps restore normal muscle function
  • Decreases inflammation
  • Increases range of motion
  • Assists muscle contracture prevention

Once the soft tissue injury or orthopaedic problem has been diagnosed by the vet, a proper course of treatment can be established. Canine Myofunctional Therapy (CMT) works by applying range of massage techniques to the muscles and connective tissue and may enhance your dog’s recovery time post-surgery or injury.

Myofunctional Therapy Benefits for Common Musculoskeletal and Health Conditions


Arthritis is usually more prevalent in geriatric dogs but can also strike young ones, it mostly affects the elbows, hips, hock and knee joints. Some symptoms include swelling and visible joint deformities affecting mobility. CMT will stimulate circulation, blood flow, relieve muscle tension and pain surrounding the effected joint(s). “Massage may contribute to slowing the degenerative process caused by such a condition” (Hourdebaigt, 2004).

Luxating Patella

This condition is usually common in smaller breeds, the patella can luxate either medially or laterally, symptoms can include stiff gait, skipping and stiffness of the hind limb. CMT will help keep the muscles supple, strengthen the surrounding muscles, relieve pain due to tightness or decrease referred pain due to compensatory muscle stiffness.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is most common in larger breeds and noticeable in their middle or later years, it could manifest in stiffness, soreness in the hips and even limping or altered gait. CMT can assist in pain relief, reduction of soreness and ease of tension in the hind quarters including assist in relieving compensatory muscle tension in other areas of the body due to compensation. (Hourdebaigt, 2004).

Ruptured Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL)

CCL is one of the most common knee injuries that can impact both humans and canines as a result of slipping, twisting, falling, getting hit by a car or from joint degeneration. Classically your dog will appear limping, not weight bear and display lameness. CMT will aid gain strength in atrophied muscles, minimise muscle wastage in opposing limb, increase nutrient intake and toxins removal, keep the muscle groups of the injured limb flexible, help stabilise and strengthen over compensating muscles which in turn should prevent further injury.


While the limb is in cast, it will be immobilised and there will be muscle atrophy (wastage). Massage post cast removal will promote muscle recovery, while massage of the other limbs and rest of the body prior and post removal will lessen compensation tension, invigorate circulation, stimulate pain-releasing endorphins and provide overall comfort to your dog.


Gentle CMT treatment will contribute to relaxing and comforting your dog post-surgery, assist realignment of muscle fibres to help prevent inappropriate healing, shortening of fibre (Robertson, 2010) and help with overall rehabilitation.


Dogs suffering from musculoskeletal conditions will require regular Myofunctional treatments in conjunction with daily strengthening exercises and careful attention or changes to their diet. If you dog has had a recent injury or suffers from common soft tissue injuries or recovering from surgery, we would love to hear from you and tailor a treatment programme that suits both your lifestyle and their individual needs.

To book a free phone consult contact Melina on 0403 939 202 or Melina@PetNurture.com.au



Allegretti, J., & Sommers, K. (2003). The complete holistic dog book Home health care for our Canine Companions. Berkeley, California, United States of America: Celestial Arts.

Hourdebaigt, J.-P. (2004). Canine Massage: a complete reference manual (2nd Edition ed.). Wenatchee, WA., USA: Dogwise Publishing.

Robertson, J. (2010). The complete dog massage manual. Parkway Farm Business Park, Middle Farm Way, Poundbury, Dorchester, Dorset, England: Veloce Publishing Limited.

Schwartz, C. (1996). Four Paws Five Directions: A guide to Chinese medicine for cats and dogs. Berkeley, California, United States of America: Celestial Arts Publishing.


Individual blogs are based upon the opinions of the specific author, who retains full copyright. The material is not intended as medical advice, it’s intended as a sharing of knowledge and information.

We are not veterinarians and do not diagnose any conditions, perform surgery or prescribe medications, we can assess the muscles as part of being a Canine Myofunctional Therapist. Muscle therapy is not a replacement for proper veterinary care and any injury or disease must be medically diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian. We encourage you to make your own pet health care choices in collaboration with a certified pet health care professional.

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