Now this was an interesting case! Of the potential benefits of canine massage that we were taught when I did my course some years ago, plus all the extra ones that I have found since, I have never thought of this one. But now…..oh yes indeed, canine massage has a new benefit.
Karen from Helping Paws (http://helpingpaws.co.uk and https://www.facebook.com/helpingpawsuk) recommended Floc to me to see if massage could help with his problem. And that problem was that he couldn’t poo. Floc has colitis with associated scarring in his gut which causes his constipation. Sometimes it is days before he can go, sometimes even weeks. He has been to the vet and is on Lactulose to try and ease his symptoms but nothing really seems to work. Bless him, he strains and strains with no effect. His owner, Kate, said that sometimes she takes him out for a walk and they are in the same spot 30 minutes later as he is constantly straining.
Karen suggested to Kate that maybe a session with me might help him to relax and I can also work over his abdominal area. After a massage session, dogs (and humans) frequently need to drink and then tend to wee. This is due to the effleurage moves helping the circulatory and lymphatic system to flush out toxins and waste. I discovered this effect to my detriment with my very first ever case study who walked out of the treatment room, settled down on our brand new dining room carpet and wee-d and wee-d and wee-d for what seemed like 5 minutes. Since then I have the back door ready to open so the dogs can go out into the garden.
I don’t really follow the suggestion that massage on dogs is only for prevention or for a specific muscular issue. I like to think holistically. If I could help Floc to relax or maybe help to shift the waste and toxins in his body, then maybe that would ease his constipation.
He is a rescue Samoyed / Retriever / probably-something-else cross so Kate doesn’t really know his background other than he has arthritis, as he is now 11-ish, and colitis.
I started the session with some palpation to get a feel of any other issues and then settled in to plenty of long sweeping effleurage moves, the whole length of his body toward the heart, to help stretch the muscle fibres passively, stimulate the general circulation and improve lymphatic function by assisting movement of that system. When I got down to his abdominal muscles he was as tight as a drum. He was, understandably, a bit wary at first but with gentle coaxing allowed me to perform lots of wringing moves over that area followed up with more flushing effleurage strokes.
After 45 minutes he had enough so we put him out in the garden and watched through the window at what would happen. It felt a bit weird but any dog owner knows how fixated you become with your dog’s stools. At first he wee-d for a l-o-n-g time then gave a few small bits of ‘success’ (you can fill in the intended word there!). When we walked out to the car, he gave even more ‘successes’ in our front garden. Something had clearly moved.
Yesterday Kate called me and was over the moon. The night after the massage session, Floc had really been ‘successful’… and the next day…. and the next night. She said he also seems so much happier. Not really surprising is it? That would be one huge weight off his mind. We left it that she would come back for another session if / when he shows signs of discomfort again.
So the new benefit of canine massage…it can help your dog with their motions.