Myotherapy Case Study – Young Labrador

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Name: Nala
Breed: Labrador Retriever
Age: 2yo
Career/Performance: Companion Pet

Reason for Visit: Maintenance and to check toenail scraping.

Being aware of the tendency for Labradors to develop Hip/Elbow Dysplasia and Arthritis, Nala’s owner wanted her to receive Myotherapy to keep her body functioning as it should. She had also noticed her scuffing her back legs when walking and had her checked by her Veterinarian. After some tests were done, it was determined that she had inflammation in her right knee (Stifle). Despite resting her, Nala was still scuffing her feet.

Nala is a typical Labrador with a happy-go-lucky personality, highly food-driven and a lover of any and all attention. Nala is a companion dog walking daily on-lead and off-lead playing with dogs twice a week. She also spends her holidays at the beach swimming and hiking. When she’s not out and about, she lays about at home relaxing and keeping her owners company.

During the Gait Analysis, the following important observations were made:

  • Her hips externally rotate
  • She scuffs her back paws
  • She has abnormal, uneven toenail wear
  • Her hind legs collapse in when she sits
  • She struggles to stand on three legs
  • She is reluctant to allow palpation of her hind legs
  • Muscle Wastage in both thigh muscles (Femoral Biceps)

I first addressed Nala’s home life and adjusted her walking and training tools to better suit her muscle dysfunction and demeanour. Next, we had her hindquarters checked over by a Veterinarian.

The Veterinarian found inflammation in her right stifle (knee) and determined that it was likely due to a fall she had while travelling in their car. Nala had fallen off the car seat and hit the cup holders in the footwell.

Despite having some rest and anti-inflammatories, Nala was still scuffing her back paws as she walked.

Nala received a weekly massage for three weeks, mainly aimed at addressing any tightness in her hindquarters and alleviating any added strain that her shoulders may be compensating for.

During each session, we incorporated physio-therapeutic exercises that would help her stretch out her legs, encourage proper muscle patterning and re-train her muscle receptors and nerves to pick up her paws correctly. Specific massage techniques were also employed to increase circulation through her thigh to assist in building back her muscles.

By the third week, Nala was only scuffing her feet occasionally, and usually when tired. This was a good sign that she had become stronger and her body was beginning to function better. I was also able to massage her whole body, including her hindquarters, without any signs of pain. 

This was an incredible improvement in such a short period of time, and I attest her progress to Nala’s owner for putting in the work and following through with lifestyle changes, and Nala’s beautiful attitude to learning exercises and adapting to the massages.

Moving forward, we will continue to check in with Nala monthly to bi-monthly to ensure her positive progress continues.

Why was it necessary to help Nala pick up her paws and walk properly?

It might seem insignificant to some but Nala scuffing her feet was a signal of what was to come. Her muscles were so fatigued from a few potential causes, which we addressed in her lifestyle changes, that her muscles were literally wasting away. Nala’s body used its survival instincts to keep moving forward by employing different muscles to help take the load – this is called “compensating”. Eventually, this creates a ripple effect of tired, weakened muscles. Due to the location of her fatigued and weakened muscles, she was at risk of damaging her knee (stifle) joint.

Things to look out for in your dog:

  • Uneven wear marks on the nails, particularly on the top or sides.
  • Tires more easily than usual
  • Flat, sunken muscles
  • Any changes to the way your dog normally walks

If you’ve noticed anything unusual about the way your dog moves, book in for an Initial Consultation using the button below.

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