Massage Therapy directly impacts the overall health and well-being of your best friend. A customized treatment plan will address the unique needs of your dog, whether providing palliative care, post-injury or post-operation rehabilitation, creating an overall sense of well-being, gaining a performance advantage or preventing injury.
Massage Therapy has existed in one form or another for thousands of years; it is natural that we seek relief through touching or rubbing a spot that is causing us pain. The techniques and terms associated with this relief seeking behavior can be found in various cultures, religions and medical practices throughout the ages dating back as far as 3000 BC.
Applying Massage techniques to canines may be a relatively new concept to some, but the science behind this centuries old practice applies. Manual, deliberate manipulation of the muscles, tissues and joints of a dog in a controlled and informed manner improves circulation, eases pain, increases muscle elasticity and promotes healing. The techniques are scientifically based with the psychological and physiological benefits being immense.
We begin with an assessment to understand the medical history, lifestyle and body condition of your dog. The results help us work in partnership with owners, veterinarians and other healthcare providers to create a customized treatment plan. This may include various massage techniques and homecare routines.
Each dog responds differently to massage. This assessment provides a valuable opportunity to interact with them and introduce them to the massage practitioner and elements of a massage session.
We are trained specifically in Canine Massage Therapy and are members of the International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork / Association of Canine Water Therapy. This means the techniques we use are exclusively intended for dogs and our training is specialized. This is a critical element in determining a trained and reputable expert knowledgeable in the uniqueness of canine physiology and responses.
We come to you. We BYOB (bed, that is) fresh linens and treats to the comfort of your home, clinic, groomer, kennel or hotel. Your dog will feel at ease in a familiar environment, maximizing their experience.
Sessions last anywhere from 20 - 60 minutes depending on the size of the dog, their activity level during the massage and the techniques used.
Swedish Massage: Sessions are founded upon these techniques, including the use of effleurage, petrissage, kneading, tapotement and raking strokes. In some cases techniques called hacking and cupping are also used. The ultimate goal of these strokes is to stimulate muscles and tissues in an appropriate manner, to increase the flow of blood and oxygen, to stimulate neurological activity and enable efficient removal of toxins from the body. They also can aid in creating calm, relaxation and overall well-being.
Hydrotherapy: This specialized technique generates specific physiological responses through the application of hot, cold or contrasting (alternating between hot and cold) wraps. Additives such as herbs or Epsom salts may increase the effectiveness, as may using specific fabrics or colors. Hydrotherapy may be used as part of a homecare program. Please note that this form of hydrotherapy does not rely on immersion in water, rather the application of water saturated fabric to targeted areas of the body.
Acupressure: Localized pressure is applied to points that present signs of being blocked, or where muscle spasm and pain exist. Calming and stimulating strokes are used in order to clear the point and achieve the desired balance, resulting in relief of pain and discomfort.
Sports Massage: The goal of this style of massage is to improve overall performance and reduce the risk of injury during competition. The strokes used will stimulate the nervous system, increase blood flow and heighten the dog’s level of alertness. This massage is best tested in partnership with the handler, dog and therapist prior to competition in order to ensure the appropriate results are achieved. Some dogs may find this massage overstimulating and have a counterproductive result. Dogs who benefit from this technique likely see peak performance results 5 – 20 minutes after the session.
Reflexology: One of the newest forms of complementary therapy for dogs, the goal of reflexology is to improve circulation, relieve tension and achieve homeostasis through the application of direct pressure to specific compression points that relate to other organs and systems within the body. The fore paws are treated as ‘hands’ and the hind paws as ‘feet’ would be for humans.
Lymphatic Drainage Massage: Lymph circulates as a result of respiration and movement of the body; Dogs who have restricted movement due to age or injury will benefit from this stimulating technique. Stimulating the lymphatic system encourages recirculation of lymph fluid, improves the body’s ability to remove toxins, oxygenate the blood and deliver nutrients more efficiently.
Color Therapy: Specific colors of fabric may be used to cover the bed, dog or in application of hydrotherapy to generate a specific response. This therapy is based on the scientific understanding of color wavelength, frequency and the belief that color entering the eyes stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands in the body, resulting in the release of hormones that control growth, reproduction, metabolic activity and sleep cycles.
Aromatherapy: Specific herbs, essential oils or scents may be used in conjunction with the physical techniques listed above to increase the desired physiological and psychological responses.
Massage is not suitable for some dogs or in specific conditions.
Dogs who are in heat, have acute pain, fever, inflammation or an infectious disease will not be massaged as it may decrease the body’s ability to cope with the condition and increase the risk of further damage. Dogs who have acute pain, new pain or a fever should seek veterinary care.
Diseased States: Dogs suffering from an infectious or contagious disease should not be massaged in order to prevent the spread of disease to other animals or impair the body’s ability to heal.
Meals: Dogs should not receive massage therapy for at least 90 minutes after eating a meal.
Cancer: Dogs who are in the midst of cancer treatment may not be massaged. Dogs who have completed treatment or are seeking palliative care may benefit from modified massage techniques and acupressure, ensuring the lymphatic system is not overstimulated or overwhelmed. This may provide them quality of life, however it also may impact the quantity of life.
Circulatory Problems & Diabetes: As massage stimulates the circulatory system, it is important to modify techniques in order to avoid overstimulating or overwhelming the system. Lighter, slower strokes and shorter sessions may prevent this. It is important to consider insulin levels for diabetics.
Epilepsy: Massage strokes must be modified to ensure seizures are not induced. It is best to book appointments within a few hours of epileptic dogs receiving their medications.
Post Operation: Massage therapy may be employed in modified techniques only 2 weeks after surgery, or after sutures have been removed.
Dermatological Conditions: Contact with hot spots, mange or ringworm must be avoided to ensure the condition is not aggravated by massage.
In all cases, massage therapy is not a replacement for veterinary care, rather it is a complement to veterinary care. If your dog is suffering from an undiagnosed issue, has fever, acute pain or bleeding, please seek professional veterinary care.
Possible risks and contraindications will be discussed with owners to ensure they are actively involved in the decision making process regarding the care and treatment of their dog. Massages will only be completed with informed consent from the owners.
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