Dogs and their people are happier and healthier with PetMassage

Pads of the Paw

By PetMassage | October 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

Full Title: Pads of the Paw

Author: Cathy Bickerstaff

Date of Publication: October 9, 2012


Research Paper Text:

Pause for the Paw Pads

While humans can change out their footwear, dogs cannot. The pads of the paw provide cushion on walks. The pads also give support and serve as a protective layer. Even though the pads are tough they are not indestructible.

Injuries can occur while walking on rough surfaces, stepping on sharp objects, extreme temperatures, chemicals, or over-walking. The most common injury is an abrasion that progresses to a cut. Sharp rocks, uneven surfaces, thorns, sticks, broken glass, all pose hazards for the pads of paws.

A responsible dog owner will examine the pads periodically to check for injuries. If the dog licks the pads over and over there is a good chance there is some type of injury. Limping can also indicate something is wrong with the pads. When checking the pads, be sure and check between the pads as well. Excessive licking or biting of feet and pads can also indicate allergies especially when combined with scratching ears. The vet will need to determine if there are allergies and what the treatment plan should be.

Obviously, if there is something stuck in the pad remove it. Disinfect any area appearing abnormal – bloody, raw, etc. Open cuts should be cleansed and triple antibiotic applied. If the cut is deep, large, or will not stop bleeding, the vet will need to determine if stitches are necessary. Injuries appearing simple can become worse. Continue to check the injury every few to make sure the injury is improving or if that trip to the vet is needed. Do not be surprised if the dog licks off the antibiotic ointment.

Paw pad conditioners are available especially for hunting dogs or dogs that spend a large amount of time outside. Commercial chemical and herbal treatments help protect the paws, keep them softer, stronger, gives them a better grip. These conditioners’ antiseptic properties aide in healing minor cuts and scrapes. Conditioners generally contain some or all of the following ingredients: aloe, Shea butter, vitamins, linseed oil, beeswax, lavender, avocado oil, and peppermint.

In addition to paw pad conditioners, prevention is important in paw pad preservation. Evaluate the route, the length of the walk, the various surfaces. Avoid small gravel or other surfaces where foreign objects can be picked up between the pads. Also pay attention to the weather. If it is hot enough to fry an egg on the concrete, it is hot enough to burn the paw pads. When walking on the beach, make it along the water’s edge so the pads can be cooled by the water. In addition to inspection, paw pad massage should be a regular part of the dog’s routine. Massage increases circulation – brings nutrients and oxygen to the tissues and removes waste products.

Wash the paws frequently especially after walking on salted surfaces. Washing the paws after returning inside is important for dogs with allergies. For convenience, baby wipes will do the job of washing the dog’s paws and pads.

Pause for the paw pads: regularly inspect, clean, remove debris, condition, massage, and treat if necessary.

When a dog is hot, he will pant. Dogs do not sweat through their skin like a horse. However, one sign a dog is stressed is sweating through their pads. If a dog is pacing and leaving wet paw prints, the dog is stressed. From Wikipedia

The paw is characterized by thin, pigmented, keratinized, hairless epidermis covering subcutaneous, collagenous, and adipose tissue, which make up the pads. These pads act as a cushion for the load-bearing limbs of the animal. The paw consists of the large, heart-shaped metacarpal or palmer pad (forelimb) or metatarsal or plantar pad (rear limb), and generally four load-bearing digital pads, although there can be five or six toes in the case of bears and the Giant Panda. A carpal pad is also found on the forelimb which is used for additional traction when stopping or descending a slope in digitigrades species. Additional dewclaws can also be present.

The paw also includes a horny, beak shaped claw on each digit. Although usually hairless, certain animals do have fur on the soles of their paws. An example is the Red Panda, whose furry soles help insulate them in their snowy habitat.


Deep Pectoral Muscle of the Canine

By PetMassage | August 29, 2012 | 0 Comments

Full Title: Deep Pectoral Muscle of the Canine

Author: Tania Alich

Date of Publication: January 1, 2017


Research Paper Text:

The deep pectoral muscle of the canine is one of the muscles in the chest. It is located on each side of the pectorals. Most muscles are attached to bones at both ends by tendons. At one end is what is called the origin. The origin is the more stable position that doesn’t move much when the muscle contracts. The other end of the muscle is where the muscle moves when contracted, and this is called the point of insertion. The origin of the deep pectoral muscle is the sternum and the insertion is the crest of the lesser tubercle of the humerus with some attachment to the greater tubercle of the humerus. 1

The deep pectoral muscle is covered cranially by the superficial pectoral, but is larger and wider than the superficial pectoral muscle. The deep pectoral muscle also extends farther caudally, where it lies immediately subcutaneously. 2

The role of the deep pectoral muscle in movement of the canine is that it adducts the thoracic limb and pulls the limb caudally. 3 This enables the dog to move his front leg inward and toward the rear. The deep pectoral muscle also keeps the front legs under the dog and prevents the legs from splaying out to the sides.


  1. Coville, Thomas, and Joanna M. Bassert. Clinical Anatomy and Physiology Laboratory Manual for Veterinary Technicians. Missouri: Mosby, Inc. 2009. Pg. 192. Print.
  2. Coville, Thomas, and Joanna M. Bassert. Clinical Anatomy and Physiology for Veterinary Technicians. Missouri: Mosby, Inc. 2002. Pg. 149. Print.
  3. Coville, Thomas, and Joanna M. Bassert. Clinical Anatomy and Physiology for Veterinary Technicians. Missouri: Mosby, Inc. 2002. Pg. 149. Print.


By PetMassage | August 29, 2012 | 0 Comments

Full Title: Brachialis

Author: Mary Colven

Date of Publication: August 29, 2012


Research Paper Text:

Reason for name: Brachial is Latin meaning: pertaining or belonging to the arm.
Action: To flex the elbow
Size: Approximately 1/4 the length of the front leg
Location: The brachialis is located in the long, thin muscle that is in the brachialis groove of the humerus. Distally, it runs medial to the origin of the extensor carpi radialis.
Origin Sites: Proximocaudal humerus – proximal third of lateral surface of the humerus.
Insertion Sites: Inserts by a terminal tendon on the medial side of the proximal end of the ulna
Tendons & Ligaments involved: a large part of its lateral surface is covered by the lateral head of the triceps

Blood Supply:

  • Innervations: musculocutaneous nerve
  • Diagram: See below for quick view, see attached for detailed musculature, skeletal and cross section.

Information of Interest

According to Wendy Baltzer at Oregon State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, care and rehab of brachialis can be optimized by the following: Strengthen the brachialis muscle is performed by active range of motion exercises such as walking over cavalettis (the higher the bar the more work the brachialis muscle does), swimming, underwater treadmill work, and down to sit exercises. In cases withseverely atrophied brachialis muscle, electrical stimulation (e-stim) of the muscle may need to be employed.


  1., “Canine Forelimb Anatomy.” 2010.
  2., thoracic-limb-muscles-canine-flash-cards.
  3. Miller’s Guide to Dissection of the Dog, 1980. Evan & deLahunta; WB Saunders Company – Diagrams on page 28, figure 16; page 22, Figure 13, and page 32, Figure 18.
  4. Approaches to the Physical Rehabilitation of Dogs and Cats with Chronic Neurologic and Musculoskeletal Disorders, Wendy Baltzer, DVM, PhD, DACVS, Oregon State University, College of Veterinary Medicine

Gastrocnemius Muscle

By PetMassage | August 19, 2012 | 0 Comments

Full Title: Gastrocnemius Muscle

Author: Linda Hilger

Date of Publication: August 19, 2012


Research Paper Text:

The gastrocnemius tendon is one of five tendons of the Achilles tendon group; the other tendons in this group are the superficial digital flexor (SDF), the gracilis, semitendinosus, and the bicep femoris tendon. The gastrocnemius tendon and SDF are the two major components, and one of the largest tendons in the hindquarter tendon group. The main purpose of the Achilles tendon is to keep the heel of the paw off the ground (Degner, 2010). The Gastrocnemius tendon is in the back part of the lower leg, in the caudal muscles of the leg. The two heads, the medial and lateral, run from above the knee, to the heel. The name Gastrocnemius comes from the Greek word gastroknēmē, meaning “calf of the leg”. The Gastrocnemius tendons function within the Achilles tendon group is to extend the hock and flex the stifle. The hind leg muscles retraction is initiated by the middle gluteal muscles and powered by the hamstring muscles. The gastrocnemius and the deep flexor muscles assist in the flexion of the paw (Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt, L.M.T., 2004) The blood supply to the Achilles tendon group comes from three sources: the musculotendinous junction, the surrounding connective tissue, and the bone-tendon junction (Mafulli, 1999).


  • College of Veterinary Medicine (2013), Veterinary Anatomy. Retrieved January 19, 2013 from website
  • Degner, D.A. DVM, DACVS (2010). Achilles and Gastrocnemius Tendon Tears, Surgery Service. Retrieved January 19, 2013, from website’%20t endon%20tear.pdf
  • Hourdebaigt, Jean-Pierre. Canine Massage: a complete reference manual / Jean-Pierre Hourdebaight. – 2nd ed.
  • Maffulli, N. (1999). The Journal of Joint and Bone Surgery, Current Concepts Review – Rupture of the Achilles Tendon. Retrieved January 19, 2013, from web site
  • Muscles of the Leg. (2006). Aricle; Muscles of the Leg. Retrieved January 19, 2013, from web site
  • Ellison, M., Kobayashi, H., Delaney, F., Danielson, K., Vanderby, R., Muir, P. and Forrest, L. J. (2013), FEASIBILITY AND REPEATABILITY FOR IN VIVO MEASUREMENTS OF STIFFNESS GRADIENTS IN THE CANINE GASTROCNEMIUS TENDON USING AN ACOUSTOELASTIC STRAIN GAUGE. Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound, 54: 548–554. doi: 10.1111/vru.12052
  • gastrocnemius muscle, also called leg triceps, large posterior muscle of the calf of the leg. It originates at the back of the femur (thighbone) and patella (kneecap) and, joining the soleus (another muscle of the calf), is attached to the Achilles tendon at the heel. Action of the gastrocnemius pulls the heel up and thus extends the foot downward; the muscle provides the propelling force in running and jumping.

PetMassage™ Instructor Training

By PetMassage | August 5, 2012 | 0 Comments

PetMassage™ Advanced Workshop

By PetMassage | August 2, 2012 | 0 Comments

PetMassage™ Foundation Workshop

By PetMassage | August 1, 2012 | 0 Comments

Teres Ligament

By PetMassage | July 2, 2012 | 0 Comments

Full Title: Teres Ligament

Author: Jennifer Keeney

Date of Publication: August 2, 2012


Research Paper Text:

Within the hip of the canine, is a small, rarely mentioned ligament, the teres, or round ligament. The teres ligament is a short, flat ligament that helps hold the head of the femur in the concave actetabulum, forming the ball and socket joint of the hip. It provides support to the joint, as well as blood & nutrients to the head of the femur in adult dogs. While the teres ligament is deeply embedded in the coxofemoral joint, it can still be badly injured.

Subluxation of the hip can occur leaving the ligament intact, which can happen due to injury, or hip dysplasia. Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) has been described as, “A varying degree of laxity of the hip joint, permitting subluxation during early life, giving rise to varying degrees of shallow acetabubulum and flattening of the femoral head, finally inevitably leading to osteoarthritis.” Some of the symptoms of CHD are pain, low tolerance to exercise, atrophy of thigh muscles, hesitant to climb stairs, unusual gait, abnormally wide hips and/or a clicking sound when walking. As massage therapists it is out of our scope of practice to diagnose a dog, but important to recognize symptoms in our clients, and recommend they be checked out by a doctor when appropriate. As massage therapists, we can offer dogs with CHD support by assisting them with exercise to build muscle (rocking & water exercises), stretching that avoids extension of the hip, improve blood circulation to the area and provide them comfort, pain relief & support through massage.

In more severe cases of CHD, and injuries where luxation, or dislocation, has occurred and the teres ligament has ruptured, surgery may be needed. In cases of severe CHD an FOH surgery, or an entire hip replacement may be done. In cases where the ligament is ruptured, an artificial teres ligament can be created. The surgeon drills a hole through head & neck of the femur, extends the hole through the acetabulum, then inserts a toggle device through the holes and holds it in place with sutures. This procedure is also used in dogs with unstable hips. We can provide support to dogs before and after surgery through massage. Before & after surgery, we can loosen adhesions, increase circulation, support healthy range of motion, as well as offer pain relief & comfort to tired muscles. After surgery, we can increase circulation to bring nutrients into the area, & flush waste materials out of the area, to reduce pain & inflammation, and encourage healing. Once healing has begun, we help regain range of motion, reduce scar thickening, improve balance & gait and help to return to normal function.

It is very important that any time that a therapist works on a dog that has hip issues that great care is taken assisting the dog on, and off the table to prevent further damage.

As massage therapists we spend our day working on structures of the body that we can see and feel. The teres ligament gives us an opportunity to work on, & offer support, to that we can neither see nor feel directly, but depend on our experience, knowledge and communication to provide effective massage.


  3. 4.

PetMassage™ Testimonials Video

By PetMassage | July 2, 2012 | 0 Comments

PetMassage™ WaterWork™ Demo

By PetMassage | June 12, 2012 | 0 Comments