Some like it…comfortably warm

Personally I love heat packs. I have about 5 of them. From back pain to tummy pain, it always seems to help. Is heat always helpful? No, and I’ll discuss why below. 

kiba heat pack
Kiba with a heat pack on his hip

Heat is a fantastic form of natural pain relief. It helps by increasing blood flow to aid in tissue repair and to remove toxins, decreases pain by giving the pain receptors a different stimuli to feel and helps with muscle relaxation and flexibility. 

Sometimes though, ice should be used instead of heat. Ice decreases swelling, tissue damage, muscle spasm and bruising. It is best used acutely, that is, in the first 48 hours of an injury, as this is when the injury causes the most amount of pain and damage. It is best to NOT use heat in the first 48 hours of an injury because it can exacerbate the tissue damage. 

After this time, ice OR heat can be used. Sometimes it might depend on the outside temperature and sometimes it will depend on personal preference, some people just feel their body responds better to one more than the other. 

To use heat on our furry baby there are a few things to note:

1. Only use a moist heat pack – that is one with beads or rice etc inside and NOT an electric heat pad. 

2. Always test the temperature on the back of your hand. Leave the heat pack on your skin for at least 10 seconds and if you can tolerate it then your dog should be able to as well. Remember, you are aiming for a MILD, COMFORTABLE warmth. 

3. DON’T use heat if there are signs of infection – including redness, warm to touch and swelling; and as mentioned above NOT used within 48 hours of an acute injury.

Arthritis LOVES heat and for an arthritic dog heat can be used before exercise, on a cold day or just before bed to help them be more comfortable. 

If you have any questions about using heat for your furbaby then please let me know.

Here’s to helping your dog live and move well,

Kylie ❤🐾

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