Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Canine Massage and Veterinary Care

Canine massage therapy can have a symbiotic partnership with veterinary care. It is unfortunate that most vets, unless they have a special interest in alternative therapies, do not recognise the benefits of working with canine massage therapists.

Veterinarians are where we take our animals for treatment, these are the wonderful experienced people that diagnose medical conditions, do surgery if needed, prescribe medications and give great general animal care and advice. Once the animal (dog) is well on the way to recovery this is where a canine massage practitioner can be a great help to the veterinarian. Massage therapy is similar to physiotherapy and has many benefits to assist in the recovery and ongoing health of your dog.

Massage therapy can help maximise blood flow to organs, increase circulation to promote healing of scars, and helps reduce recovery time after surgery or injury. It can assist in the final process of rehabilitation and restoring normal function from recent orthopaedic surgery.

Massage also helps to improve mobility and flexibility. Helps relieve pain from arthritis in hips and joints along with the use of prescribed medications from your veterinarian.

When next you are visiting your veterinarian, ask about canine massage and how it could help your doggie mate and if they can recommend a practitioner to you.

To find a list of certified canine massage practitioners here in Australia through the National College of Traditional Medicine Melbourne http://nctm.com.au/list-qcmt.html#nsw

Please consider using a canine massage therapist as a part of your dogs healthcare team. Your dog will love you for it.

Canine massage therapy is in no way a substitute for veterinary care, nor do canine massage therapists offer veterinary advice or diagnose medical problems. 

Please contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog is suffering from any type of illness or injury.

Written by Heather Brook (copyright 2014)

Monday, 11 November 2013

Summer & Your Dog

With the warmer days of Spring/Summer happening here in Australia our thoughts are turning to more outdoor activities which will include our dogs.
Most dogs have spent long warm, cosy days inside through winter and probably only had a minimum amount of exercise. Some dogs may not have had that chance of being exercised and most will have probably put on some extra kilos. Which brings me to the reason for writing this article.

Dogs live in the moment, for a dog that means doing everything full on. They don’t rationalise as to how they will feel tomorrow after heavy exercise or playing games. The after effects of stiffness and lack of flexibility and stress to their muscles due to over exertion could/can occur. Our dogs go all out to please us when it comes to walking or playtime, so it is most important for us to know when enough is enough.

  1. Before considering taking your dog on any type of long walks, jogging and running here are a few simple things that will help our best friend to not only enjoy their outing but also help them to avoid injuring their muscles.

  2. If your dog has not had much exercise through the winter months start off with just short walks, building up to longer ones over a period of a few days.  Your dog will greatly benefit from a simple warm up at home before heading out each day.  By doing a gentle jog, a walk, then a slightly faster jog followed by a good active walk, then finish with a gentle walk (approximately 30 paces for each section mentioned). This will help warm up your dog’s muscles and give the dog a chance to oxygenate its blood in preparation to enjoy your walk together.

  3. If you have a pup under  12 months of age and especially the larger breeds of dogs, it is not advisable to over exercise them  either by walking it long distances or having it run or jog with you. It can put unnecessary pressure on a young dog’s bones and joints which can help to cause such things as hip or elbow problems and arthritis later in life.

  4. Consider where you walk your dog, bitumen roads become very hot and will easily burn your dogs feet pads which can be very painful for them. Early morning or evening walks are much more comfortable for both you and your dog. If bush-walking always be aware that snakes are about and could strike at your dog or yourself.... snake bites can be fatal.

    Always remember if you are going on a long walk to take water and a collapsible bowl for your dog. Don’t forget the poop bags and most of all enjoy your special time together.

  5. After arriving home from your walk and your dog has cooled down it will appreciate a simple cool down massage which will help to loosen muscles and help to prevent stiffness and loss of flexibility. By using both your hands and applying light pressure place your hands on the dog and slowly follow all the contours of its body. Starting from the head, front legs and especially down the back and hind legs. Always follow the direction in which the hair lies. This should not be done for more than 5 minutes.

  6. Ball play, Frisbees, tug toys and running are all a lot of fun for dogs, but can also have an impact on their joints, especially their front legs, back and neck areas. When jumping off the ground dogs use their front legs like shock absorbers when they land. The higher the dog jumps and twists the harder the landing which can cause damage to many areas of the body. As with tug toys, the harder the dog pulls or is pulled by the human playing with it, the more possible chances they can do damage to their neck and shoulder areas.

  7. Another great activity if your dog likes it, is swimming. When a dog swims it has to cope with the resistance of the water which makes the dog work a lot harder while swimming than when it is walking or running on land. Swimming improves a dogs muscular tone/ strength and works the respiratory and cardio-vascular systems. It has been said that 1 minutes swimming is the equivalent to a dog running for 4 minutes. When a dogs muscles are well toned it helps in protecting them against injuries that can be sustained during normal types of exercise and play.

    If you are unable to take your dog to a beach or river to swim another way to provide a fun water experience is to fill a childs wading pool so that your dog can cool off. This is also a good way for older pets that are not as active anymore to also be able to enjoy some time in the water.

  8. Be aware of when your dog has had enough exercise especially on a hot day. It is up to us to see the warning signs. They can’t tell us how tired or hot they feel and will continue on just to please their owner. 

Why not treat your best pal to a professional canine massage.  Massage will help to relieve aching muscles and joints which are often brought on by over exercising and too much play especially through the summer months. Your dog will love you for it.
Written by Heather Brook (copyright 2013)

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Pet Fair & Open Day at University Veterinary Teaching Hospital

Meet Bubba, one of the many lovely dogs that enjoyed a massage at the University Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Camden yesterday during their pet fair. I had a wonderful day meeting and chatting with many dog owners interested in Canine Massage.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012


            These delightful dogs thoroughly enjoyed their massages at the Paws in the Park held on Sunday the 28th October 2012.




Saturday, 29 September 2012

Meet Tasha...

Meet Tasha. This beautiful nine year old Rottweiler and I first met in July 2012 after a phone call from her mum seeking some help for her.

Tasha was recovering from the removal of her left front leg in May due to cancer and was having difficulty maintaining her balance. She also needed help with her hind quarters as in recent years she had TPLO surgeries on both her back legs and was very stiff in her gait. She also suffers with some arthritis.

When I first met Tasha at her home, her balance was so unsteady that when she came to greet me, she kept falling down on her chin, which scared her greatly. With clearance given by her oncologist to proceed with weekly massage, I started on the road to help her regain her balance, proprioception and ease the tightness in her hind quarters.

On the fourth visit to Tasha, it was a delight to see her come running down her yard to greet me, the massage and propriocetion exercises had helped to give her full confidence in balancing on her three legs. To our surprise last week, she is now confident enough to jump up on her hind legs to greet us, though her owner discourages this mischievous behaviour.

Unfortunately, Tasha has not been without setbacks since I have been seeing her. In late August she suffered a reaction after having a chemotherapy treatment which left her unable to move her legs properly. Her owner decided to take her back to her orthopaedic specialist for a check up. He was unsure of what caused the reaction but recommended she maintain her weekly massages as he could see the improvement with her.

Tasha is due to have her final chemotherapy treatment in October and we all hope for a positive outcome for this beautiful lady.

I will continue Tasha’s weekly massage sessions, helping to strengthen her muscles and introduce new challenges for her as she gains more confidence with herself.

Sadly, Tasha lost her brave battle and crossed The Rainbow Bridge on 17th June 2013. 

Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Effects of Aging on Dogs

As our canine companion become older, life starts to change for them in so many different ways. Suddenly this once young active dog now finds it harder to climb the stairs, jump on the lounge or into the car and run or play the way he/she once did.  His/her hearing has become duller and their eyes don’t see as clearly anymore.  The wonderful long walks have now become much shorter and they are more likely to prefer a cosy spot to lay down and sleep for longer periods of time.

If one is not careful they can suffer from pressure sores, so a soft comfy bed is a good choice to help stop this happening. They will get chilled much easier and need to be kept warm in the colder weather.  A heat pad is a good choice for the older dog to help keep them warm and help with their stiff joint problems.

Some elderly canines can suffer from separation anxiety, while others can suffer from canine Alzheimer’s.  Age is now catching up with this gentle and much loved canine but many things can be done to keep this wonderful friend more active including weekly massages.

The benefits of massage to an older dog are that it helps to stimulate and increase flexibility/body tone, circulation of blood and oxygen to the tissues. In some cases partial massage can be used as a substitute for exercise in dogs with a decreased range of motion and joint problems. It also promotes healing and helps cleanse the body of metabolic waste. The body’s natural pain reliever called endorphins helps relieve pain and discomfort naturally. Inappropriate physical and emotional behaviours are also greatly modified.  All of the above are a wonderful adjunct to veterinary care when needed.

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”.........portion of the serenity prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr

Written by Heather Brook. (copyright 2012)

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Colder weather and how it can affect our dogs.

With the warmer days coming to a close in Australia, and the colder days of Autumn and Winter starting, you need to make sure your dogs are kept warm.  

Some dogs are more susceptible to feeling the cold especially older dogs and those that suffer with joint problems.  

Some simple things that will help to make your dog feel more cosy.

* A raised bed off the ground such as a trampoline bed.
* A dog coat to keep the chills away.
* A heat pad is especially good for older dogs and those that suffer from joint stiffness.
* If your dog lives outdoors make sure they have a warm kennel with thick cosy bedding.
* If your dog gets wet, make sure you dry them off well, particularly before they settle for the night. Having a damp coat will not help a dog that suffers with joint problems.

Like humans, dogs really enjoy a good massage, so why not treat them to some this winter. Massage will help to relieve aching muscles and joints which is quite often brought on by the cold weather. They will love you for it.

- Written by Heather Brook. - 2012