What is muscle atrophy?

Muscle atrophy is a term used to describe the loss or wasting of muscle tissue. It typically affects senior dogs, dogs that have injured themselves, dog’s that have a joint condition such as osteoarthritis, hip or elbow dysplasia, and dog’s that had surgery.

Why does my dog lose muscle mass?

The most common causes are injury, pain and immobility after surgery. When your dog injures themselves, has a condition such as arthritis or hip dysplasia that causes aching joints, or has had surgery, your dog generally underuses their skeletal muscles in the area which leads to muscle wastage. Being a quadruped (using 4 limbs) it is much easier for your dog to shift weight in order to offload the painful limb or area. If the injury is mild or the joint condition is in its early onset, weight shifting is very subtle and often goes unnoticed.

How we can help

A trained eye can detect subtle weight shifting in its infancy and can help to identify potential joint conditions or injuries in their early stages. Early detection and a subsequent diagnosis by a veterinarian can make a world of difference in treating and/or managing an injury or joint condition which also involves making sure that your dog retains or even gains muscle mass. Paws4Paws can help to support your dog by providing a customised exercise program to target the affected area. Similarly, after surgery it is paramount to build strength in the affected muscle groups.

Weight shifting (compensation) also means that other body parts work much harder than they are supposed to which leads to overuse, tension and tightness in areas not directly related to the primary problem area. Tight muscles are not only uncomfortable and sometimes even painful, they are also prone to injury. Paws4Paws can help break the cycle of accumulative compensatory patterns that lead to secondary injuries using techniques such as massage, myofascial release, trigger point therapy and rehabilitative strengthening exercises.