Medical Collateral Elbow Ligament

By PetMassage | October 24, 2012 |

Full Title: Medial Collateral Elbow Ligament

Author: Ashley Needles

Date of Publication: January 1, 2017


Research Paper Text:

This is a ligament in the dogs elbow that helps maintain the stability of the elbow joint.

Its main function is to help prevent excessive or abnormal movement of the elbow.

The MCL insertions are made up of tissues that help facilitate movements between the bones in the dogs arm. (

The ligament helps attach and stabilize the upper and lower arm, connecting at the elbow where this ligament is located. (Dr. David W. Altchek, MD.

Therefore the ligament offers protection to the elbow joints by offering resistance to the tension in the dogs arm. (

Elbow of Canine

By PetMassage | October 9, 2012 |

Full Title: Elbow of Canine

Author: Lauren Hubach

Date of Publication: October 9, 2012


Research Paper Text:

The forelimb of a dog is comprised of many bones, joints and ligaments. Located just behind the chest on the back of the foreleg is the elbow. It is a major weight-bearing joint of the canine forelimb. -Cheryl Schwartz, DVM; Four Paws Five Directions; p. 344

The elbow is a joint, referred to as the cubital joint, formed between the distal end of the humerus and the proximal end of both the radius and ulna. The radius and ulna are separate, not fused together, in the canine elbow. This allows for joint movements such as flexion and extension, pronation and supination. Annette Vindenes;

You will find Hyaline cartilage on the surface of this joint. It is this cartilage that makes the surface of the elbow smoothe, and reduces friction in the joint. Hyaline cartilage is lubricated by the synovial fluid which is produced by the membrane of the same name, the synovial membrane. The elbow joint “pouches” between the radius and ulna, and are surrounded by the annular ligament as well as the collateral ligaments. The annular ligament of the radius attaches to the sides of the coronoid process of the ulna. A ring is formed when this annular ligament meets the collateral ligaments of the radius. It is this meeting point in the elbow that allows the radial head to turn during pronation and supination. -Robert A. Kainer, DVM, MS and Thomas O. McCracken, MS; Dog Anatomy, A Coloring Atlas; plate 15 -Vetstreet Pets Portal;

Blood is provided to this joint by the subclavian artery. And the most predominant nerves in the elbow joint are the ulnar nerve, radial nerve and olecranon. Damage or trauma to these nerves can cause loss of functionality in the elbow. When the elbow joint isn’t functioning properly, or at all, it can result in instability, severe pain and even lameness in the forelimb. -Caroline Davis; Essential Dog; p.133

The Dewclaw

By PetMassage | October 9, 2012 |

Full Title: The Dewclaw

Author: Christina Lemnotis

Date of Publication: October 9, 2012


Research Paper Text:

The dewclaw is the rudimentary first digit of dogs and cats, found on the inner side of the front legs, above the weight-bearing digits. It is defined as an accessory appendage of the integumentary system (Colville et al. 2008, 147). They are also considered to be an accessory claw of the ruminant foot, analogous to a false hoof of a deer, hog, goat etc. In dogs, the dewclaw is the first digit, but actual bones are only found in the dewclaws of the forelimbs. Pigs, cattle, and sheep also have dewclaws but only in pigs are bones present. Both the metacarpal and phalangeal bones are present in the dewclaws of pigs, just as they are in weight-bearing digits (Colville et al. 2008, 178). There are no dewclaws present in aquatic mammals due to its definition of “a claw not touching the ground.”

In the dog, the dewclaw contains two bones; a proximal phalanx and a distal phalanx. This is a similar structure to the human thumb, which also only contains two phalanges as well. There are no sesamoid bones in the dewclaw of a dog. Each distal phalanx contains a pointed ungual process, which is surrounded by the claw (Colville et al. 2008, 489). An ungual process is the process on the distal end of the distal phalanx of dogs that is surrounded by the claw in the living animal (Colville et al. 2008, 147). Blood does reach the dewclaw of a dog and therefore, if torn, the dewclaw can become infected. Branches of the radial, median, and ulnar nerves transmit sensations from the digits to the brain. These nerves can be blocked with local anesthetic above the site of the dewclaw prior to surgery. This helps control pain in the immediate postoperative period.

The dewclaw is commonly removed from puppies at an early age due to the susceptibility to injury and infection throughout life. There are some breeds, which must have the dewclaw present in order to be recognized as the breed standard. These dogs include the Great Pyrenees dog and Briard. The Briard must have double rear dewclaws present (Zink). However, the removal of the dewclaw is debated amongst veterinarians and owners.

It is believed by some that it should be removed due to the possibility of injury in life. Other veterinarians say that such injuries are actually not very common at all and it is far better to deal with an injury than to cut the dewclaws off all dogs as a precaution (Zink). In canine athletes it is believed that the dewclaw still does have a function and is not just the remains of a digit that has regressed in the course of evolution (Zink). According to the Miller’s Guide to the Anatomy of Dogs, there are five tendons attached to the dewclaw, which would atrophy if the dewclaw were removed. The muscles attached to the dewclaw indicated that the dewclaws actually do have a function, which is to prevent torque on the leg (Zink). When the dog is cantering or galloping the dewclaw comes in contact with the ground. If the dog needs to turn, the dewclaw digs into the ground to provide support to the lower leg and prevent torque. It is thought if the dewclaws were absent, the dog’s leg would twist each time. After a lifetime of twisting, it could cause carpal arthritis, or injury to other joints such as the elbow, shoulder and toes (Zink).


  • Colville, Thomas, and Joanna M. Bassert. Clinical Anatomy and Physiology. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier, 2008. (accessed May 27, 2012).
  • Zink, M. Christine. “Do the Dew(claws)?.” Canine Sports Productions. (accessed May 25, 2012).

Pads of the Paw

By PetMassage | October 9, 2012 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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

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