How does my dog benefit from massage?
Well, let’s look at what canine massage is:
Many of us have enjoyed the feel good feeling of a massage. Like us, canine massage is used to treatment a variety of conditions – including anxiety in dogs.
Massage is using techniques to help muscles become supple, increase circulation and ease tension. These techniques include effleurage (long broad strokes), skin rolling, kneading, compression and much more to improve musculoskeletal health.
The musculoskeletal system includes structures such as the skeleton, muscles, fascia, ligaments and tendons. All of these work together to aid your dog’s posture and movement and receive attention during a massage.
Because these structures work together, each consultation begins with a full body assessment. Often a particular injury or condition can cause discomfort in other areas of the body due to a change in posture or movement – a form of compensation to protect the painful area.
What can massage treat?
There are many conditions that can be addressed through canine massage:
- Back pain.
- Soft tissue injuries.
- Muscle wastage following surgery or hospitalisation.
- Sporting injuries and conditioning.
- And much more…
What are the aims of canine massage?
Massage promotes the overall wellbeing of dogs. Each case will have its own set of treatment goals, which are discussed prior to the physical assessment and massage.
Like us, many dogs experience a calming effect from massage, especially when they are comfortable in their own environment with their owner and massage therapist.
The physical benefits of massage include:
- A reduction in muscle tension.
- Improved circulation.
- Reduced levels of anxiety and stress.
- Improved joint mobility and flexibility.
- Improvement in the recovery from surgery.
- More comfortable recovery from soft tissue injury.
What can I expect during a massage consultation for my dog?
There are four main components to a remedial consultation at Canine Remedial Therapy. It doesn’t matter if the visit is your dog’s first or fiftieth visit with us, we will follow a process to ensure maximum comfort and minimise any risk for your dog. If there are any “red flags” either during discussion or in your pet’s physical assessment, we may defer his treatment to another time, or adjust our treatment to avoid causing increased discomfort.
We begin with a discussion that includes your pet’s health history, including:
- Any medical conditions (including those other than musculoskeletal in nature) in the current, recent or distant time.
- Lifestyle and exercise activities.
- Any veterinary diagnostics and/or treatments.
- Current medications or supplements.
- Your goals as an owner in terms of your dog’s treatments and future lifestyle/activities.
During this discussion, time is allowed for your dog to get acquainted with his remedial therapist. Following this, we will proceed with his physical assessment. This includes:
- Passive observation of his posture and conformation.
- Asking him to perform a series of functional activities such as sitting, manoeuvring stairs, etc.
- Palpation of his body including joints and soft tissues, muscle bulk.
- Motion assessment – this means his range of movement in his limbs, head, neck and spine.
- Gait assessment – observing how he moves at different speeds to assess for changes.
Once this is completed, active treatment will begin.
We work very much within the comfort and tolerance of your dog. If he’s anxious, we may need to take a slower and more gentle approach until he’s confidence builds. If she’s particularly painful, we may need to address the surrounding areas that are supporting the injury. Dogs will always tell us when they have had enough and we always listen. Treatment techniques include massage, fascial release, passive range of movement exercises and active or functional exercises.
On completion of the remedial treatment, we can discuss home care activities, lifestyle adjustments and a future treatment plan.
Depending on the reason for our treatment, we will often need subsequent treatments (just like we do for ourselves). With each and every treatment, your vet will receive a written report for their records. This is essential especially when they too are treating an injury or medical condition for your pet.
When is remedial therapy not appropriate?
There are some occasions where a treatment may not be appropriate. In these cases we would recommend that you discuss with your vet our findings before starting therapy.
Massage – special considerations
There are some instances where massage may not be recommended, and some of these may not be immediately obvious. For example:
- If your dog hasn’t been eating as normal.
- Unsteady on feed.
- Not responding to current vet treatments.
- Weight loss
- Change in behaviour or demeanour.
In these cases, we would discuss options to ensure your pet improves overall before adding in more treatment.
The long term goal is to improve your dog’s quality of life – for today, and all of his tomorrows.