Updated: Jun 9, 2020
There's many reasons your dog can benefit from massage and Bowen body work that you may not know about. Find out more from Mia's story below.
When to Massage My Dog
Mia, my chihuahua cross, is one of the main reasons I started canine body work with myotherapy/massage and Bowen therapy. During her adult life she had 2 cruciate ligament replacements after adopting her and I thought massage was a great way to get her legs to recover quickly and to bond with her so she would stress less. By learning how to massage dogs I was able to help her rehabilitation by improving her range of motion and strength for after the second knee operation.it was also relaxing for Mia as she remembered the trauma form her first surgery.
I am so happy I learnt how to help her body because years later Mia had some unexplained muscle spasms along her back which I used myotherapy, a combination of massage and stretching, to help her muscles relax. I was able to help her to recover and be an energetic dog again and enjoy and keep up with her doggy activities.
Mia was at home with my brother one day and I received A LOT of missed phone calls from my brother. When I returned the call, he had calmed down from his shock of seeing Mia in her spasm or possible seizure attack, describing her as kicking the ground and trembling but not controlling herself for 5 minutes. After that, Mia was quieter than her usual self for the rest of the evening and back to normal the next day. Over the next 2 weeks the spasms happened again with Mia unable to stand up completely. She was trying to get up and walk but couldn’t even though she really wanted to join her playmates. I was able to take a photo of the third time a week later, when we were just about to go for a walk and she was sitting still with a hunched back. When the episode passed, I could feel that she was quite tight along the back and she got a massage long the back and neck which she relaxed into. I took her to the vet the next day where they palpated her belly and took some blood for testing. She was mostly normal with her results, had no stomach issues and nothing could explain the spasm unless something was pinching a nerve and we were just told to record our observations if it happened again.
Keen to help her and knowing that nothing else was causing this, I used my myotherapy training and palpating skills to find which muscles were tight in her neck, shoulders and back to work on first to release the knots and nerve pressure that may have been obstructing her nerve signals and causing pain. Mia eased into the massage quickly when working on those muscles, by relaxing her posture and presenting her tense areas to me. She was cooperative when I stretched her neck and back regularly so I knew she was grateful for my help. Dogs are allowing and they respond well to body work once they understand what you are doing to them and the relief it brings them. After a couple of weeks of massage sessions and a new harness Mia has been herself ever since and we have not seen her have a spasm attack again even years later.
Harnesses and Leash Pullers
Mia is a leash puller and must use a harness due to her thick neck and small head. I had the same harness for a few years with no problems even though it was a bit big for her. It was one that could double up as a car seat harness that buckled around the neck and the body. It is not easy finding a harness for a small-medium size fitting dog. I thought that would be the issue causing this pressure on the neck and decided to get a new harness of a different design. The one I have now just buckles around the base her neck with the pressure put on her chest and shoulders.
Massage and Bowen For Your Dog
I first studied canine massage and Bowen therapy because of my love for dogs, helping animals and my interest in anatomy. I love the way these therapies embody holistic and natural health. The musculoskeletal system is involved in so much more than moving your body from A to B. I have found that massage helps dogs in many more ways than their physical ailments such as arthritis, hip and elbow dysplasia, limping, knee replacements, back and spinal disc problems and body stiffness. Other reasons why your dog could use a massage can be that it helps with calming body and mind of anxious dogs with stress relief and teaching the dog they can relax during quiet times. Massaging your dog can prompt a change in aggressive or defensive behaviour if its related to physical pain and when you massage your dog it develops the bond between you and you furry friend with a positive experience.
When your dog has a musculoskeletal problem that is obvious or can’t be explained body work such as myotherapy and massage or Bowen therapy could help your dog with it’s recovery ability, prompting the body to heal itself. Other therapies that use body work that can complement your dog’s recovery include acupuncture, acupressure, physiotherapy and chiropractic therapy. You can search online for a canine therapist in your area or contact your country’s natural animal health association.
Canine Bowen and Massage in Brisbane
I work with dog owners in the Brisbane area to help treat their dog’s bodies that are in pain for obvious injuries, arthritis and general body pain that may go left unnoticed. We can’t always see or hear when or where our dogs are in pain. As a trained physical therapist I can hands-on assess your dog to find your pal’s painful spots. If needed I can show you where and how you can massage your dog to help them on a regular basis. As a canine myotherapist and canine bowen therapist I will also help you find ways to prevent the pain in your dog with lifestyle advice to enhance your dog’s life in the body they have. I am available online too for a Zoom call with your and your dog to assess how massage and little lifestyle adjustments can help your dog be healthier and active.
As always this doesn’t replace veterinary advice and we aim to work with your vet and complement your dogs medical care. Veterinary advice should always be sought out for injuries and illness as they can diagnose and treat, so your pet can get the care it needs in a timely manner.
Mia's regular pose and hunching in her back