Wednesday, 19 December 2018

How old should a dog be to start canine physical therapy?

Some people suggest that massage is only beneficial for senior dogs or canine athletes. The workshops Cathie and I designed recently, focussed on ways that manual therapy, exercises and knowledge can help influence the way that development progresses – from puppyhood to senior years. Of course, physical therapy is especially good for our silver faced chums with all sorts of benefits. But youngsters have a high level of activity – often wiggling and waggling carefree all over the place. 

Moss was a perfect example of this. He is a 5 month old Vizsla/Collie cross with that infectious lust for life puppies have. He’s not worried about warming up, running too far, tripping up, straining muscles – he just wants to see what new and exciting thing is around that corner and if it’s even better than the thing he is currently playing with. 

But this carefree attitude can lead to mobility niggles. In Moss’s case, he was developing a stiff back leg at the end of his walks. Although the walks are kept appropriate puppy length, he does love to play chase in the garden with his older, but still young, sister. At the vet consult before the therapy session, it was found that he was reluctant to fully extend either stifle. 

His Mum had heard of us through Debbie Peters of Schooling 4 Dogs and asked if I could go over to check things out. 

Of course, Moss is a wriggler. He’s a puppy. But we found that there were two ways to keep him still (-ish). One was to allow him to totally wash my face, ears, beard and neck – that way meant that I could work with his hind legs – mind you I could not see a thing. The other was to give him something to chew – preferably not my massage mat. That way I could work all over. 

Between those two distractions, we managed to discover he did, indeed, have very tight thigh muscles – particularly those of the left. It’s likely he simply ‘pulled’ something which had gone undiscovered and unnoticed in general puppy wriggling and enthusiasm. 

In the next hour, in between puppy tongue washes and treat nibbling, Moss received a good massage and his Mum and Dad received education on what is going on under that seething mass of puppy. They learned how to feel him – not pet him and to understand how a normal muscle should feel and what Moss’s tight muscles felt like. 

You don’t need to wait before adding physical therapy into your dog’s growing-up. Armed with their recent knowledge of a massage routine, exercises and our warm-up/cool-down, his Mum and Dad are well equipped to help Moss’s current issues but also to continue that maintenance through his next stages of life. 

Keep enjoying life Moss.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Canine Massage Therapy #123456 - "Being able to chase that dog you've always fancied"

For our latest Double Therapist Day, we worked with senior girls Lyla and Midge. Midge chose Chris while Lyla chose me. 

Lovely Lyla is a 12 year old Doberman who has a history of stiffness in her forelimbs. Radiographs taken last year showed arthritic changes in both carpi and digits. She is a happy potterer when out walking and her Mum wanted to start maintenance massage to support her through the next stages of her life.

Lyla got over her shyness and realised the benefits by settling down for a full hour. 

The next day her Mum wrote “..OMG!!!! Wow what a difference in the girls, ….. Lyla was walking with a spring in her step not as stiff at all, managed to chase this dog she fancy's….Magic hands uncles a big THANKU XX” Hmm…chasing a dog she fancies. 

Now THAT is a new benefit for canine physical therapy. 

Monday, 3 December 2018

Building confidence in the owner and muscle strength in their dog

Jack is a 13 ½ year old Springer/Lurcher/Staffie. He is now stiff with osteoarthritis all over exhibiting worse in his hip joints which have weakened. But other than his mobility issues, his Mum described him as in remarkable health for his age. That may well be down to the extensive research and care his Mum is taking for him. She checks out the pros and cons of everything. When I arrived, I was handed a list of the medication, supplements and food he is on – everything meticulously studied and balanced. And all his food is hand made with the same amount of care. 

Mobility-wise, his Mum said he is a ‘plodder’. He was tentative when he got up and equally deliberate when going down – front end first then his backside. 

He needed a little extra to complement this jigsaw of multimodal care. Adding manual therapy is something that can give him a lift and, equally important, something his Mum can do daily along with all the healthy food preparation. 

He was one of the “I love this massage and shall lie here……. Although maybe I’ll get up now and come back in a minute” dogs. Massage was on his terms. But when he was in the zone, he fully went with it, closing his eyes. 

After an hour I handed over the skills to his Mum, who took to physical therapy like a professional, not that I had any doubts. We also went through a few gentle stretching exercises and our simple, quick and effective warm-up / cool-down routine. 

Just before he left, he lay down, front and rear at the same time, without any hesitation – a big indicator of the benefits of the session. And later in the day, him Mum send me a post-session picture – a snoozing relaxed Jack. 

The following day his Mum send me a message of another benefit of the session – and that was to Jack’s sister. His Mum wrote “I just wanted to tell you about this morning. I was massaging Jack under Pixie’s watchful gaze, and he did his get up and wander off routine like yesterday. The very instant he moved off she flopped at my feet waiting for her massage too. She was pretty comatose by the time Jack decided he’d let me do a bit more!” 

In her review his Mum added yet another benefit “…..Perhaps the biggest thing Les did when he came to see our dog Jack last week was give me confidence. I was so worried about hurting Jack and Les patiently explained and showed me how I can help ease Jack’s aches, pains and stiffness safely and gently. The next day Les sent over a workbook that went over the session again and included exercises (more like games for Jack) that will help build his confidence and muscle strength again.”

It was never in any doubt that Jack’s Mum would fully embrace this addition to his therapy regime.