Monday, 19 April 2021

Getting it right from the start

Bailey is a 2 year old Sproodle who decided to have a couple of random stop and sit downs during walks.  When his vet examined him, it was noticed he seemed to have a stiff neck and upper back and was prescribed a short course of NSAIDs. 

But a few weeks later, on a return to the vets, he still seemed uncomfortable and was recommended to visit us for a check-up and advice.

Working with such a young dog is perfect for our ‘helping you to help your dog’ philosophy.  Discovering and assisting Bailey’s mobility issues as a puppy, will enable his Mum to carry those skills into his maturing days.  It’s about knowing what to do and being empowered to help and those skills can be learned at any stage.

Your dog will get older but that course doesn’t have to be predetermined.  It doesn’t have to be a case of they get old, they stop moving, they get worse which will ultimately lead to an unacceptable impact on their quality of life.

Bailey knew that he needed some help and, although timid, allowed me to work with him and show his Mum what he needs now and in the longer-term.

Things such as getting into the habit of giving him a quick warm-up and cool-down before and after exercise is something that will benefit him whatever his age.  Our Sarah refused point blank to move in the morning until we’d given her a warm-up in the park.  She knew how beneficial it was.  We simply incorporated it into our morning routine.

Daily massage on the muscles and joints that take all the stress and strains of being a dog is beneficial whether your dog is 2 or 12. 

We found that, as well as tight neck and upper back muscles, Bailey was also uncomfortable on his thighs possibly due to compensation.  This gave us a plan for a massage and exercise routine Bailey’s Mum could do now, to help with his current issues while enabling her to know how to will help him later.

As Bailey gets older the massage routine will grow and develop.  His needs as a puppy will differ from those as an adolescent or middle-aged boy.  A 15 to 30 minute daily massage, warm-up and cool-down, simple stretching mobilising exercises and generally making the most of every opportunity given, will make sure you get to know your dog’s body and needs.  This will prevent injuries by identifying tissue change before it becomes a problem.  Added to that the bond created with your dog, helping your dog with physical therapy is a wonderful skill to learn.

Looking at Bailey’s expressions during the session, he will soon start to become a Massage Diva demanding and guiding his Mum on the areas that need help.



Thursday, 15 April 2021

“Her strength shows me how it can be done… mind over matter”

 I had an emergency call for help from Marley’s Mum.  Marley is a 13 year old Staffie who suddenly lost all use of her rear left leg.  Her vet suggested suspected neurological trauma as there was no proprioception or superficial pain reflex although deep pain reflex was present.  They advised that the issue was likely disc or spinal disease and it was unlikely that Marley would regain use of that leg.  They advised physical therapy to maintain tone in the muscles of the left rear leg and keep the remaining legs strong.

We managed to see Marley the next day as it was clear that both her and her Mum needed help as soon as possible.  Her Mum needed some hope.

Marley was determined.  Oh, so determined.  She was not going to give in.  She managed to get herself into the therapy room with her three working legs which had quickly adapted to keep her moving.  She reminded me so much of our Sarah who never accepted her limited abilities.  She still wanted to enjoy her life and wasn’t going to let wobbly legs get in the way.  Dogs have a strength and grit that is simply awesome.  No wonder the term “dogged” is used for tenacity and persistence.

Marley’s left rear leg muscles were already showing signs of softness while her other limb muscles resembled those of a weight training athlete.  Everything needed help, but in different ways.  Left rear leg needed pumping massage and stimulation, while front and right rear leg muscles needed help to make sure they didn’t overexert themselves and tighten up restricting movement further.

Her mid back was also tight, understandably.

Marley had brought along her two human sisters to help their Mum with the therapy routine. 

By the end of the session, which Marley thoroughly enjoyed, she was moving even more fluidly.  I sent through a personalised workbook of what to massage, why and ways to ensure the left rear leg is kept stimulated while she is not using it herself

The next day her Mum wrote “I wanted to give you an update on Marley.  She is weight bearing on the leg and is showing signs of using the muscle in the upper leg……The improvement this morning after seeing you last night is phenomenal (I am secretly hopeful and believe she may use the leg again).  Marley is definitely the strongest dog I have ever met and her strength shows me how it can be done… mind over matter.  Oh and I tickled her toes earlier and she spread her paw!.  You and your partner are amazing people and extremely kind.  I will keep you updated. DAY 3 and look how far she has come”

The following day an additional text “I was doing her massage this morning and she curled her bad paw round my hand”

And a week later...“Marley saw the vet yesterday, the vet is confident that she will regain full function!! She told us that you can see the work we have done for her and that is because of your immediate help.   Thank you for supporting me through this process.  It really was true team work.  Thanks for passing that knowledge and seeing what I see in her”

Now that was the feedback we wanted to read.  With hope from the carer, determination from the dog with some empowerment and knowledge sharing from us, team work has helped Marley to recover and maintain some mobility. 


Wednesday, 14 April 2021

"I actually feel positive for the first time since he got the diagnosis”

Handsome soulful big fluster Golden Retriever Leo is only 17 months old but his Mum noticed clicking from his hips and sometimes he struggled to get up or “he looks like he has old man bones” as his Mum put it.  But he’s a puppy, a big floppy, soft puppy who wants to play and not struggle.

He had several radiographs from a specialist vet who determined that he has bilateral mild hip subluxation without secondary change in any other joint.  They recommended a number of things to help including maintaining a low weight (Leo is in stunning shape), regular but not excessive exercise (Leo goes out a couple of times a day for gentle walks), on and off lead work (to make sure that he gets some controlled exercise rather than puppy antics), water treadmill (which he has already started), non-slip flooring (Leo’s house is now a perfect example of slippy floors being covered) and manual therapy.

For me, he was a classic case of helping the carer help him, rather than visiting a therapist every couple of weeks.

His Mum and I had no worries that he would be an awkward candidate for massage.  A bit of a wriggler but also a lot of googly eyed snoozing.

We found that he had been compensating for his hips by some overuse of his front end muscles and mid back.  But his thigh muscles were in great condition, as was almost everything about him.  We just needed to make sure everything stays that way.  And, more importantly, his Mum is aware of how he feels today so she has something to use as a gauge for any changes.

For the 90 minute initial session, Leo smiled, yawned, snoozed, grinned and generally acted as this was the best thing ever.

His Mum and I went through an appropriate massage routine and some stretching/balancing exercises to assist with the muscle tone and joint movement.  Leo was a very fast learner.  Within two attempts he realised that by standing on the soft cushion and stretching forward he’d get a treat.  What we saw though was him using his hips and core muscles to get hold of that treat.  Exercise without knowing it.  And getting a treat.  How I wish going to the gym was as easy for us!

His Mum wrote “Absolutely incredible, I've learnt so much. Thank you ever so much, I actually feel positive for the first time since he got the diagnosis”.  Another carer successfully empowered to help their own dog.

And I shall follow his progress on his Instagram page of


“I am seeing the world today through my dog's eyes and more particularly, her body”.


“I am seeing the world today through Bramble’s eyes and more particularly, her body”.

Bramble the Springer Spaniel is a 13 year old rescue who has twice broken an elbow but recovered well and remains very active and up for a walk.  Since the end of last year, however, she has displayed a limp on the other front leg.  She was examined by the vet who found nothing sinister but concluded that the findings were consistent with osteoarthritic change in both elbows.  The other front limb joints appeared to have no issues.

Her Mum wanted to learn how to help with manual therapy to keep Bramble as fit as possible.

Bramble was unsure about anyone touching her so, as her Mum is going her new therapist, I brought in our demo dog.  While I was working on that model, Bramble’s Mum was copying me on her.   That worked perfectly and Bramble settled down in no time – after a good sniff of the demo dog.

Her Mum found that most of the muscles on the left hand side were more prominent that those on the right.  Bramble had clearly been compensating for a while.  She’d also developed tighter back muscles from about half way down – again likely due to over-compensation.

This gave a good starting point for a massage plan to help ease the extra strain on the left while pumping up the tone on the right.  The Re-Balance Bramble Plan.

She thoroughly enjoyed the work her Mum was doing, repeatedly giving us extra cues by shutting her eyes and resting her head down in pure bliss. 

Her Mum wrote “……we had such a helpful and informative session.  I am seeing the world today through Bramble’s eyes and more particularly, her body.  Thank you so much – I am very hopeful of being able to help her…I also think she is going to really love it”

I think so too.