Dr. Abdul Basit Javed (DVM, RVMP) – Commissioned by Stretch Authority.
At Stretch Authority, we love our pets, and as dog parents, all we want for our furry friends is to be healthy and happy. One way to achieve this is by incorporating stretching exercises into your dog’s routine. But make sure you follow a proper guide on how to stretch your dog safely. In general, stretching is just as essential for dogs as it is for humans. When you stretch your dog, you help to warm up its muscles, which increases blood flow to the area, preparing them for exercise or play.
In this blog post, our small animal veterinarian will guide you through the benefits of pet owners stretching their dogs and provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to safely and effectively stretch your furry friend.
Benefits Of Stretching Your Dog
Whether you have a young pup or an older dog, incorporating stretching exercises into their daily routine will help keep them healthy, active, and happy. Following are some of the most important benefits of stretching your dog regularly:
- Reduces Joint Pain
- Improves Mobility
- Reduces The Risk Of Injuries
- Promotes Bonding
- Improves Nervous Stimulation
- Improves Blood Circulation
Reduces Joint Pain
Joint pain is a major health concern for dogs, especially senior dogs. Stretching and physical therapy are excellent alternatives to traditional medicinal and surgical treatments for joint pain in dogs.
Stretching your dog’s joints on a regular basis helps to reduce joint stiffness, and muscle tightness, and improves blood flow to the area. Stretching also relieves strain on the ligaments and tendons that surround the joint hence reducing pain.
Stretching can help some dogs who are lazy and don’t show much interest in an activity, or who are obese. Stretching helps keep your dog’s joints in good working order so that they don’t lose function over time. Stretching increases joint flexibility and strengthens the muscles that support the joint.
Reduces The Risk Of Injuries
Warming up your dog’s muscles before physical activity can help prevent injuries. This can help to reduce the likelihood of muscle strains and sprains. Stretching is especially beneficial for service dogs or dogs who engage in strenuous physical activities on a regular basis to keep their muscles and joints in good shape.
Stretching is not only a good physical activity for your dog, but it is also a great way to spend quality time with your furry friend. Stretching your dog is a great way to connect with them. You can strengthen your relationship and increase your dog’s trust in you by spending time together.
Improves Nervous Stimulation
Stretching is beneficial not only to bones, muscles, and joints but also improves
Improves Blood Circulation
Muscles contract and relax during stretching, promoting blood circulation to the area.
More blood flow means more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the area, and waste products are removed more efficiently, improving the dog’s well-being.
Step-By-Step Guide On How To Safely Stretch Your Dog
Stretching your dog is easy and can be done in the comfort of your home. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of stretching your dog:
Before you start stretching your dog, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Always consult with your veterinarian before starting any stretching or exercise program for your dog.
- Make sure your dog is comfortable and relaxed before beginning any stretches.
- Never force your dog into a stretch, and always stop if you notice any signs of discomfort or pain.
Now that you know the basics, let’s get started with our step-by-step guide to stretching your dog:
Step 1: Warm-Up
Warming up your dog’s muscles before stretching is essential; otherwise, there will be fewer benefits and your dog may end up getting injured.
A short run or walk in the park, or engaging your dog in some light play, is usually sufficient to warm up their bodies. When stretching your dog, never ignore this step.
Step 2: Front Limb Stretches
Follow these steps to stretch your dog’s front limbs:
- Make your dog stand.
- Lift one of their front legs gently off the ground and grasp it in your hand.
- Extend the leg forward gradually until you feel resistance.
- Hold this stretch for 5-10 seconds before releasing it.
- Repeat this stretch with the opposite front limb.
Two additional stretches for the dog’s shoulders and triceps include:
- Begin by having your dog stand with one side up against your legs to stretch their front limbs and improve their shoulder mobility.
- Gently grasp one of their front legs below the elbow and move it forward and upward for 15 seconds, keeping the leg parallel to the ground.
- Grip above the elbow with your other hand for large dogs with long limbs. Rep the stretch on the opposite front leg.
- This stretch requires you to keep your dog standing with one side against your legs.
- Now gently bend its front limb so that the paw touches the elbow and at the same time lift the limb upward.
- Stretch for about 10-15 seconds. Repeat with the opposite front limb.
Step 3: Hind Limb Stretches
To stretch your dog’s hind limbs, follow these steps:
- Maintain the dog’s standing position against your legs.
- Hold the dog’s hind limb below the knee joint (stifle joint).
- If the dog is large, you can use both hands to hold the hind limb from below and above the knee joint.
- Gently lift the leg upward and flex it backward.
- Hold the stretch for a few seconds before relaxing the limb and repeating the process.
Another approach that is commonly used is similar to the one above, but it includes an extra step of rotating the hind limb in a circular motion (bicycle pedaling motion).
- The holding strategy is the same as described above.
- During this time, however, you will first move the leg forward and then flex it backward.
- Then, move the leg in a bicycle pedaling motion 1 to 3 times and repeat.
Step 4: Chest Stretches
It’s essential to ensure that a dog’s chest muscles are stretched regularly since this area bears a significant amount of strain. You can do this through the use of abduction stretches, which involve:
- Holding the wrists of the front limbs of your dog and moving them outward away from the midline.
- Holding the stretch for 10 seconds and repeating it can help to enhance your dog’s flexibility and help relax chest muscles.
- However, it’s important to exercise caution and avoid overstretching the chest area.
Step 5: Back or Paraspinal Stretches
Cookie stretch is a technique for performing back or paraspinal stretches in dogs. It can be carried out as follows:
- This can be done whether the dog is standing or lying down.
- Hold a treat in your hand and move your hand towards the dog’s tail, making sure the dog’s head follows your hand.
- Make sure the dog’s body is straight and only the head and neck are turning backward.
- Once they are bent and their body looks like a c-shape, hold the stretch for 15 seconds, then switch to the other side.
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- How To Stretch & Massage Your Dog. (n.d.). https://www.thewildest.com/dog-health/how-stretch-massage-your-dog
- K. (2018, May 7). How to Stretch Your Dog — LITTLECOOPERBEAR. LITTLECOOPERBEAR. https://www.littlecooperbear.com/hound/how-to-stretch-your-dog
- V. (2022, March 14). Dog Stretching Exercises. Coxwell Animal Clinic Clinic. https://www.coxwellvet.com/dog-stretching-exercises/