Cerebral Spinal Fluid & How Canine Massage Affects It

Full Title: Cerebral Spinal Fluid & How Canine Massage Affects It

Author: Vicki Mendelson

Date of Publication: March 17, 2014

PDF: http://petmassage.com/wp-content/uploads/Cerebral-Spinal-Fluid-How-Canine-Massage-Affects-It-by-Vicki-Mendelson-2014-03-17.pdf

Research Paper Text:

A. What is Cerebrospinal Fluid?

Cerebrospinal fluid also called CSF is a clear fluid found in the brain chambers, (ventricles), spinal canal and spinal cord. Fluid is secreted from the choroids plexus, a vascular part of the brain. CSF bathes and circulates among these tissues and acts as a shock absorber to protect against injury.


CSF flows throughout the ventricles, into the subarachnoid space, around the brain and spinal cord within the subarachnoid space, into and throughout the brain and spinal cord tissue, out of the brain and spinal cord back into the subarachnoid space into the arachnoid villi, into the intracranial sinus system into the jugular vein, and then into the circulation of the canine body.

Source: http://carycentercst.com/cerebrospinal-fluid-flow/

C. Functions of CSF:

Some of the functions of CSF are to protect the brain and spinal cord by floating them within the subarachnoid fluid filled space; supply nutrients to the brain tissue; help maintain optimal brain and spinal cord; temperature; hormonal balance and ph; and to remove water material from the brain and spinal cord. CSF increases balance and sensitivity of somatic and autonomic systems. The unencumbered flow of CSF is essential for the health and healing of the brain and spinal cord.

D. How is CSF Produced?

CSF is produced by both active and passive processes. Active processes require energy to secrete salt into the ventricles. The passive production of CSF occurs as a result of upright posture. Upright posture causes blood and CSF to flow out of the brain faster.

E. What happens in a dog when CSF builds up?

Hydrocephalus, also called “water on the brain” is a condition characterized by abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid inside the brain. The condition is an expansion or abnormal dilation of the ventricle system as a result of excess spinal fluid. If it is a congenital problem, the skull is soft and causes a domed head due to swelling and excess fluids. The skull, however, cannot expand further and these fluids cause compression of the brain.

F. Causes:

Most times the cause of “water on the brain” is genetics. The puppy is not born with water on the brain but anatomical problems lead to this. Certain breeds with a natural tendency toward a domed head are more susceptible as well as the Chihuahua, Pomeranian, Yorkshire terrier, English bulldog, Lhasa Apso, Pug, Pekingese, Boston Terrier, Maltese, toy poodle, and Cairn Terrier.

G. Canine Symptoms of Hydrocephalus: (Water on the Brain)

Owners of dogs with hydrocephalus (either if born with it or they acquire the condition during their life) may never notice signs of the dogs disorders. Below is a list of several symptoms associated with this: Hyper excitability, Aggression, Head pressing or tilting, Seizures, Respiratory difficulties, changes in gait or stride or lack of coordination, abnormal eye position … eyeballs rotated down and outward, aimless wandering, vomiting and comas.

H. What are the physical benefits of canine massage for cerebrospinal fluid drainage?

Canine massage can assist all body systems to perform optimally by increasing or balancing circulation of blood, lymph, cerebral spinal fluid and oxygenation of the cells. By enhancing the CSF flow, we increase the balance and sensitivity of the somatic and autonomic nervous system.

Percussor work on the cranium affects the fascia around the brain, by releasing tension and allowing the micro-movements of the bones of the cranium. These movements of the skull allow for movement of the CSF in the brain and spinal column, and have far reaching effects on the health of the overall canine body.

Cardiovascular waves from the heart and arteries cause rhythmical rises and falls in blood volume and pressure in the arteries of the brain. The changes in arterial pressure affect the surrounding CSF. As pressure goes up, CSF is driven out of the skull and into the spine. As arterial pressure drops, CSF is pulled from the spinal cord into the brain.

Similarly, respiratory waves are affected by canine massage. The first reason is it changes pressure acting on the heart and blood vessels inside the ribcage. As pressure inside the ribcage goes up during exhalation, it increases pressure in the arteries of the brain. As pressure goes down during inhalation, pressure in the arteries of the brain goes down as well. Similar to respirations affect on the arteries, respiration also affects the vertebral veins of the spine. CSF and venous pressure drop in the brain in synchrony with respiration.


  1. Critters360; Canine Hydrocephalus Symptoms and Treatments, 2013
  2. Curtis Dewey; A Practical Guide to Canine Neurology, 2013
  3. eHow; Water on the Brain in Dogs, 2013
  4. Jonathan Ruddinger; Art and Essence of Canine Massage, 2012
  5. LK Page; Cerebrospinal Fluid and Extracellular Fluid, 1985
  6. PetWave; Hydrocephalus in Dogs, 2013
  7. WikiVet; Cerebral Spinal Fluid, 2012

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