International Association of Animal Therapists
Case Study


Improving The Quality Of Life In The Geriatric Dog


  • Newfoundland
  • Has not been neutered
  • Age 12.5
  • Weight 65 kg
  • Has had a massage before
  • Lameness score 6


  • Lives on his own now as a few months ago his mate another Newfoundland died age 4
  • Lives with owners and their 12-year-old daughter
  • Has been with the family for 10 years
  • A previous home he was ill-treated and locked in a shed for hours on end
  • Bit of a loner
  • Never done any agility /work
  • Sleeps on the floor or outside as does not like the heat
  • All wood floors and quarry tiles thought out the house
  • Does not go upstairs as cannot manage them
  • Is allowed on the furniture and sometimes gets on the sofa
  • Never goes out for a walk as they have acres of land and orchards to roam
  • Spends most of his day outside in the sunshine or in shaded areas of trees
  • Likes to wander up the drive and greet people
  • Sleeps a lot and is not very mobile due to hip dysplasia in both hips
  • Wife works from home so he always has company
  • Has been a bit lost since losing Bear in the late summer



From the time he was a puppy up until he was 2 years old, he was kept in a small shed so small he was unable to move around. This resulted in bilateral hip dysplasia.

At some point during this time, he was ill-treated and dragged or pulled around by the neck. Now he does not like to be taken on a lead or pulled by his collar. The only way to get him to move or go for a walk is gentle encouragement and persuasion with a biscuit, treat, or apple.

When he joined the family 10 years ago he was very quiet and scared of people. Luckily there was another Newfoundland in the house called Molly, who was great company for him and brought him out of his shell. When Molly died a young Newfoundland called Bear came to join them. Bear brought out the best in Bailey and they were the best of friends. Sadly last year, Bear had inoperable cancer and died at the age of 4. Bailey took it in his stride and became quite lonely at times, but in other ways became more sociable and spends more time in the house with human company.

During the last few months, Bailey has had a new friend called Millie, a puppy Newfoundland, who came to join him at just 9 weeks old. Millie has given Bailey a new lease of life and he is very tolerant towards her, constantly playing with him and jumping all over him.


  • Muscle atrophy in both hind limbs due to hip dysplasia.
  • Unable to run or trot due to hips.
  • Signs of arthritis in limbs.
  • Limited range of movement.
  • Stands squarely once he eventually gets his balance.
  • Sit to stand more of a slump down and hard work to stand.
  • When seated legs to one side, prefers to lie down.
  • More of a plod along than a walk.
  • When walking head up and tail up and is happy.
  • Struggles with even a small step up or down.
  • Very loving once he knows you, likes company on his terms.
  • Despite ill-treatment in past trusts you when he knows you.
  • Looks at you with big sad brown eyes.
  • Can be mischievous more so when he had Bear to play with.
  • More than happy to be massaged.
  • Likes to be on his own outside most of the time.
  • Will mooch around the orchard or sit in front of the front door and watch the world go by.
  • Since starting his treatment a new puppy Newfoundland has joined the family.
  • Bailey seems more motivated and enjoys playing with the puppy.



Bailey loved me massaging him, especially on his hind limbs, and around his hips, you could almost see him smile with the relief and pleasure it gave him. It took a while as I had to keep stopping to give him comfort breaks and to let him walk around and then encourage him to stand up and lie down on the other side. He trusts me and knows I will never drag or pull him by the collar, (I am always good at giving him treats!). But once in position, he was happy to just lie there and let me get on with the treatment.

At his age and with his previous life issues, he will never be very flexible and mobile and his range of movement will never be that good as the muscles have become tight and in some places never had the opportunity to develop properly. However, in terms of overall lifestyle and general well-being, Bailey has benefited no end to having his treatments and seems a lot happier in himself and has more energy and movement to play with young Millie.

Again Bailey will continue with regular treatments from now on, to help with his quality of life and general well-being.

Bailey and Millie.



A case study conducted by IAAT Member Sara Marsh (member number 1631)

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