Canine Massage – why, how and who?

How does massage help your pet?

Massage increases circulation throughout the skin, muscles and joints –helping to bring fresh blood and nutrients to the area, which is needed to keep the bodies tissues healthy, the increase in blood flow helps bring up the tissues temperature, which helps to relax muscles and aid circulation.
Along with helping to bring fluid to the soft tissues massage can influence lymphatic drainage – which removes toxins and waste from the body and helps to stop infection.
When muscles become tight and restricted this has a knock on effect on the rest of the body. It can cause poor mobility, pain and exercise intolerance. By working to release areas of tension and increasing muscle fibre length massage can help improve many aspects of a pets life and create a positive cycle.
Many pets enjoy massage treatment, as it is a calming environment, which can help them to relax, reducing tension, slowing the heart and breath rate, while releasing feel good endorphins.

Who benefits from massage?

Many of the dogs I see are senior pets that are starting to feel the effects of aging. 1 in 5 dog’s has arthritis that can cause discomfort when moving, inflammation in joints and compensatory changes tightening their muscles.
Massage therapy can help to release muscle restriction allowing better mobility in limbs and joints. Along with the physical effects it can be a relaxing experience for older pets, helping to release endorphins and lower pain responses.
Another condition that benefits from massage is dogs with hip and elbow dysplasia, which can cause reduced range of movement and compensatory issues in other areas of the body. Using massage and simple exercises alongside other therapies such as hydrotherapy can help improve muscle tone and target areas of unbalance (such as increased loading going through a limb) improving rehabilitation outcomes.
Many more conditions such as;

  • Soft tissue injuries
  •  Pre & Post surgical cases
  • Luxating patella
  • Spondylosis
  • Stiffness
  • Skin issues
  • Palliative care
  • Sporting and working conditioning

How often should my pet have massage?

Initially I advise 3 treatments around 7-10 days apart. During the 1st treatment we will discuss your pets needs, home environment, exercise and any other information that will help my treatment plan.
At every session I will complete a massage treatment on your pet. Though I believe in giving the dog a choice and will never restrain a patient causing them distress. Most patients accept the treatment, though this can take a little time- I try to make massage appointments a calm and relaxing experience for the dog (& owner!)
Along with the massage treatment, I can advise owners on simple techniques to do at home, exercises that will help with the pets progress and changes that can be made at home to improve their comfort and well being.

‘Treating the whole dog, includes the owner.’

At Yorkshire Canine Massage I believe in working closely with owners to achieve the best possible outcome for their pet. This includes looking at changes they can make at home to enable their pets
to stay independent and mobile (such as putting in ramps and mats). We can also talk about enrichment ideas for pets that aren’t able to exercise like they used to, this can include using food puzzles and training for mental stimulation.
I also like to give clients techniques they can use at home on their pet in-between treatments – these are simple but effective massage techniques thatcan help relax your pet, reduce discomfort and strengthen your bond with your pet! For more active pets there are several ‘functional exercises’ that I can show you that can help with targeting how they move and increase body awareness

Please contact Freya at Yorkshire Canine Massage to discuss your dog’s needs or if
you are unsure whether they would be suitable.

Clinics are available at Operation K9 and home visits also available

Laser Treatment – A Game Changer for Arthritis

Lasers have been used for many years in many different formats, intensity and wavelengths. Class 3 and 4 lasers are used medically and can penetrate cells of the body to create a chemical reaction called photobiomodulation.

This process of using carefully created medical lasers helps relieve pain by releasing endorphins, stimulating injured cells to regenerate, increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation. There is a lot of evidence in human medicine that it can reduce chronic pain, as well as reduce joint inflammation and promote healing. There are few studies yet confirming this same effect in dogs, but it is now a well recognised treatment option for conditions such as wounds, arthritis, muscle strains and sprains and pain

In this simple treatment, a laser wand is used on the affected arthritic area. As the light is emitted across your pet, they often enjoy the experience. The laser gives a warm, comforting sensation and can potentially give instant relief.

A hand-held wand delivers the treatment (goggles protect the eyes of practitioners and patients) and the dosage is applied with a sweeping motion or by using back-and-forth movements as though following a grid while treating one small area at a time. Ideally the pet is sat or laid down on a comfortable mat.


  • What about the other medications my pet is on?

Laser can be used safely alongside any other medications. You may even find pain medication can be reduced once the effects of the Laser kick in

  • How do I know if my pet is in pain?

Pets don’t show pain symptoms like we do, they rarely cry out or moan. Some signs to look out for are lameness/limping, changes of behaviour and/or appetite, difficulty settling, and changes in body posture. If in any doubt please see you vet.

  • Does my pet have to be shaved?

No, the laser can be used over the coat. Different setting are used for different coat thicknesses and colour to apply the correct dose

  • How long will a session take?

This depends on the size of the pet, coat type, areas treated and dosing. It can be between 5 minutes for a small wound to 45 minutes for a large dog with multiple areas to treat

  • Will my pet insurance pay for it?

Most pet insurance companies will pay out for Laser but check your policy before booking


Laser treatment is often started with 2-3 weekly sessions then dropping in frequency as the patient responds. Many patients can then be ‘maintained’ less frequently to maintain the results.

Each patient will be assessed and a treatment plan will be created to achieve the best results. Laser should only be carried out by a Vet, RVN or trained animal therapist

Contact us today to book in 


Dog Activity Monitor – no more guessing

When starting a new exercise regime or a change in activity due to illness or recovery, it’s very useful to know information regarding your dogs activity

Ever wondered what your dog does when you’re out? You could be surprised to find out they are more or less active than initially thought. This date can help towards adjusting exercise and diet to best compliment a rehabilitation or weight loss plan.

Running, swimming, scratching, rolling. The PitPat Dog Activity Monitor is designed to be incredibly robust, so it can take (nearly) everything your dog can throw at it.

The PitPat Dog Activity Monitor is small and light enough for any collar, making it perfect for dogs of all shapes and sizes from Chihuahuas for Great Danes.

Track exercise, rest and play, as well as distance travelled and calories burned

Get personalised feeding recommendations tailored to your dog

Track their weight over time and take guided body condition scores

Earn fun badges for hitting activity goals, covering long distances and much more


The monitor can also be kept on during a hydro session so we can track the calories burned and distance traveled.

Use our discount code to get £5 off! Click either of the links below



Fireworks and your Dog

It’s getting to that time of year again where we can expect to start experiencing the effects of fireworks on our dogs.

During the global pandemic, some owners may have used the opportunity of spending more time with their dog to start a desensitisation programme months ago. Unfortunately this is unlikely to be in the forefront of your mind 3-6 months ago when desensitisation should have started.

Around 45% of dogs are scared of fireworks so I hope you can get some useful advice from this article to help your pet have a better experience this year.

More at home displays?

There could be more at-home displays this year with people avoiding going to busy, organised events. This can become trickier to predict regarding timing and locality. Try reaching out to your neighbours and villagers to ask if they can let you know if they are having a display, and when to expect it to start and finish so you can be more prepared.

The Basics

Draw the curtains, close doors and windows and put the TV on louder than usual. Reggae and Classical music helps calm dogs down so set Alexa on with a playlist for the evening. Dogs look to you for your reaction to a potential risk. Try to not react and fuss around too much as this can worry a dog further. Be there to provide support and reassurance but be a calming influence.

Create a safe space

Dogs like to hide when feeling anxious. Make them an area of their own by covering over a dog crate, or draping a blanket between two sofas or under a table. A comfortable, dark space where they can choose to spend time. Set this up a few days before the expected event to get them used to it and encourage them to use it by giving a chew treat in there. It’s likely they will want to be close to you so preferably in the same room as you.

If you shut a dog into a cage or a room when they are feeling stressed they can hurt themselves if they panic and try to get out. Some dogs take themselves off and hide under the bed for example, if this is the case then leave them there if they feel safer.

Day time walks and escape routes

There is always an increase in lost dogs at fireworks time. Even the best trained dog can bolt when scared. Exercising your dog well during the day will help them settle better in the evening. Make sure microchip details are up to date and ensure your house and garden is secure to avoid a stressed dog escaping. Consider keeping them on a lead in the garden if you need to toilet them after dark. Otherwise avoid outside time after dark during the firework period.

Calming supplements, pheromones and medication

There is a variety of over the counter supplements available to help reduce stress and anxiety. Some work best when started months to weeks before the event, some can be given days and hours before. These can have a good effect, depending on the severity of the behavior, but it may be a case of trial and error to see what works best for your dog. If you know your dog will need the help of stronger short term medication for noise phobia, then contact your Vets in good time for a Veterinary prescription.

Enrichment and chew toys

Dogs can often loose their appetite when stressed so consider feeding them earlier in the day. Providing tasty long lasting chews and treats can be a great was to distract a stressed dog. For example snuffle mats, activity feeders, filled Kongs or a safe chew can keep their minds off the noises.

Now may be the time to introduce a new exciting toy or play their favourite indoor game.

Noise phobias are treatable, but it takes time and commitment. Start planning for next year as soon as you can. A noise desensitisation programme can be used to gradually expose your dog to the sounds at a very low level while having positive experiences of food, praise etc. This is a gradual counter-conditioning process to help them accept the sounds long term. To get help with this contact a qualified animal behaviourist.

Free Desensitisation Programe click here

Rebecca Wilkinson RVN NCert (AnBeh)

Why Veterinary Acupuncture? – By Jody Lam

Hear what our resident Acupuncture Vet Jody Lam has to say about her treatments

Acupuncture is an amazing treatment method that was developed centuries ago in the Far East.  It involves placing very small needles in very specific locations throughout the body.  The needles are very fine and placement of them is generally painless.  These needles stimulate the nervous system, having profound effects on many body systems.  Also, in the area local to the needles, the body responds by releasing chemical messengers that relieve pain and promote healing.

What conditions can be treated with acupuncture?

Because of the unique way that acupuncture works, it can be beneficial for many conditions, both short and long-term.

The majority of my patients are having acupuncture treatment for chronic joint diseases, such as (osteo)arthritis.  Acupuncture  can really benefit these patients in several ways.  The treatment can help to reduce pain (either alongside, or instead of, pain medication), it also reduces the muscle spasm that often occurs as part of the body’s response to lameness/limping/stiffness. Muscle spasm reduces the body’s ability to shift weight between the limbs, and so makes it harder for the pet to cope with the joint pain; relaxing these muscles can make a huge difference to them.  Acupuncture works really well alongside other treatments such as hydrotherapy and laser, as they all provide benefits in different ways that complement each other.  Because arthritis is a progressive disease we often need to use many approaches to keep your pet comfortable as their joints worsen over time.

As the nervous system is involved in all aspects of physical well-being, acupuncture can be of benefit for most health conditions.  Other problems in pets that I have treated successfully with acupuncture include: urinary incontinence, spinal problems, lick granulomas, Horner’s syndrome and feline hyperaesthesia.

All patients have a full clinical examination at the start of their treatment and I review the medical history from their usual vet.  With ongoing cases I can work alongside your regular vet, continuing to keep in touch with them whenever possible to ensure the best care.

Are there any patients who acupuncture cannot help?

A small proportion of humans and animals do not respond to acupuncture treatment and so if there is no benefit seen after the first 4 sessions then it may be that they do not respond.  Some conditions take longer for a response than others.

Most of my patients are dogs, but I also treat several cats and the occasional well-behaved horse! Rabbits also benefit from acupuncture.

Will my pet enjoy the treatment?

The majority of my patients really enjoy their sessions, they rush over to greet me and are very settled throughout.  It can be hard to know what to expect which is why I have a video recording of a treatment on my website  The pet needs to be fairly still for the needle placement but this can usually be achieved with the help of treats when necessary! Once the needles are in place the aim is to leave them in for around 15 minutes, but the pet does not need to lay still for that time.  During this time the body releases endorphins which are chemical messengers that promote relaxation, so often the patient lies down or is more settled during this phase.  Then the needles are removed.

Are there any side effects?

Rarely are side effects experienced.  Some animals are a little stiff for the first day or two after a treatment (more common in the early stages).  A tiny proportion is patients experience a reaction where this persists, but this reaction can be easily reversed by placing a single needle. Spinal cases and animals that have been in pain for some time are the most likely to have some side effects in the early stages of their treatment.

How often is treatment required?

The initial course is weekly sessions, usually for 4 treatments.  After this it is tailored to the patient and their condition; most arthritic pets then move to fortnightly treatments on an ongoing basis.  If the acupuncture is to promote healing or recovery then it can end once the healing/recovery is complete, for example after surgery or non-healing wounds.

Will my insurance company cover the cost?

Many insurers will cover acupuncture treatment and so will reimburse your costs.  It is worth contacting them to find out in advance.

New Lameness Evaluation Service

New for 2021 we now have a new piece of kit that allows us to collect accurate data to evaluate lameness and weight bearing of our patients.

Utilising the Companion Stance Analyser in our clinic has taken our lameness evaluations to the next level.  By providing objective measurements, we will be able to see how a patient is shifting his or her weight in order to determine which limb, or limbs, are affected.  This data allows you to better communicate to the pet owner what the next step is going to be for the pet.

This can be used as a one off reading for data only purposes to communicate to the Vet, or integrated into the treatment plan to allow to adapt treatments as necessary and keep an eye on progress.

It can also be used for dogs not under our care, breeders, show dogs, working dogs etc to monitor longer term injuries to help manage the condition.

No Veterinary Referral is required for this service only. (cost applies)


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