It’s official: My dog has a muscular neck injury. The last six years of trying to determine the exact cause of my dog’s neck injury has proven to be fruitless. Our veterinarian thinks there are many causes that have resulted in this injury. Stella is a Miniature Bull Terrier; so, when hucklebutting through our home, she does bounce off the walls.
While this issue has festered off and on, it’s gotten much worse lately. She started having daily muscle spasms that sent her hiding under our bed. Even with rest and pain medication, her spasms have continued.
Thankfully, we partnered with our veterinarian and a holistic veterinarian who specializes in chiropractic and acupuncture care to find a cure. Neck stretches are our daily homework now. Our holistic vet was adamant about how to perform these dog stretching exercises, so I’ll share them with you!
First, Ask Your Veterinarian
Dog neck injuries are very serious. Your veterinarian must thoroughly examine your dog before adding neck stretches into her daily routine. Some dogs have slipped discs and nerve damage that will worsen with neck exercises and stretches, so rule out major issues first.
Fortunately, Stella’s neck issue is muscle related. Bi-weekly chiropractic and acupuncture adjustments, coupled with stretches and heat therapy, have been extremely beneficial.
How to Stretch Your Dog’s Neck
Use yummy treats, such as chopped up hot dogs or cheese chunks, and place a large treat chunk about an inch from your dog’s nose.
- Slowly move the treat toward your dog’s left shoulder and give her the treat.
- Now, grab another treat and lure your dog’s nose toward her right shoulder, then give her the treat.
- Place another treat on your dog’s nose and slowly raise the treat up and over her head to extend her neck fully upright, then give her the treat.
- Lastly, hold a treat between your dog’s front legs (at her mid-chest), so your dog bows her head downward.
All dogs (and humans) have different ranges of motion, so resist the temptation to overstretch (move head further up, down or over). Refrain from holding or lengthening a stretch for too long, as this will be painful and cause muscle spasms. Once your dog’s head is in place, quickly give her a treat and move onto the next stretch.
How Often You Should Stretch Your Dog
Our chiropractic veterinarian recommended doing dog stretching exercises followed by a warm compress for 15 minutes every day. Usually, we complete neck and shoulder stretches in the evening, so we can get comfy while placing a warm compress across Stella’s neck and shoulders.
Fingers crossed, Stella is doing well! Since starting acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments and stretches, my dog has not had a muscle spasm and is off all pain medicine. (Knock on wood!)