This is Spot, an ex-racing greyhound who is a regular client for massage and laser therapy. Today as part of his session I used a wheat bag (warmed in the microwave) to help warm the muscles in his hind legs; by initially warming the muscles, I was able to massage Spot more deeply in these congested areas without causing discomfort.
Why do we use a hot pack/warm compress/hot water bottle/wheat bag?
Warmth stimulates blood vessels to dilate to help blood flow to an area which is why it is quite helpful for people and animals who have arthritis.
Warmth also helps muscles to relax and, on a chilly morning like today, warmth is generally comforting (which is why in the above photo the bag is resting on Spot’s side. I had finished using the wheat bag on his hind legs but left it on his rib cage because he was enjoying the weight and warmth of the bag).
Warmth should never be used in the acute phase of an injury, when there is swelling, redness or pain because warmth will exacerbate the inflammation.
Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand