Rather than describe a canine massage this week, I ask that you take a minute to watch this short video. It’s this dog’s second session. The transformation from “before” to “after” is remarkable.
Full Title: Stress free nail clipping with massage
Author: Melissa Kuhn
Date of Publication: November 6, 2019
Research Paper Text:
Stress free nail clipping with massage
Stress free nail clipping with massage
November 6, 2019
There are many health benefits for dogs to have regularly clipped nails, not just to make them look good
Keeping your dog’s nails at a clean short and comfortable length aids in better gait, posture for sitting as well as standing. Reduces arthritis and inflammation of the joints as well as the spinal column, as well as the major organs. Inside every nail is a vein and if cut too short it will bleed. If not cut frequently the vein will grow with the nail and become longer which could curl underneath to the pad or twist and curl to the sides of toe connecting with the other nails.
“Common cause of nail disorders in dogs that are caused by not getting their nails cut back often enough; Infection such as bacteria or fungus, trauma, Immune system disease, Tumor or cancer.” (https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/skin/c_multi_nail_nailbed_disorder).
“Dog’s nails consist of two layers. They have the unguis, a hard, outer covering in which the keratin fibers run perpendicular to the direction in which the nail grows. But unlike us, under their unguis, dogs have the subunguis, which is softer and flaky, with a grain that is parallel to the direction of growth. The faster growth of the unguis is what gives the dog’s nail its characteristic curl.” (https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/care/nail-clipping/the-importance-of-clipping-dogs-nails/).
Certain massage techniques can help some dogs that get anxiety for nail trimming or grooming experiences. It can calm nerves, relax the dogs body and allow the dog to understand that getting their nails trimmed and feet groomed is a good and calming technique to help them get used to this process. Dogs that have been to grooming salons, or vet clinics to have nail work done sometimes have had a bad experience and then the dog is required to either be muzzled or sedated just to get this job done.
Certain breeds of dogs have no issues of having their paws touched let alone having the nails trimmed or grinded down, some dogs prefer the grinding rather than the clipping of the nail. Most of the breeds in the working and sporting group are not fond of having their nails done and their paws touched, held, or pads shaved of hair. Whereas breeds in the toy, non-sporting group are used to the process due to possibility of starting the grooming process early on in their life. Certain breeders start at a young age with getting the puppies used to being held, paws touched, nails trimmed, paw pad hair shaved out. After working with three dogs from the working group and three dogs from the sporting group over the time period of a month they went from being uncomfortable and having to be muzzled to get the nail process done for them to no muzzle and actually enjoy coming into the salon for their nails to be done. The dogs would come in every two weeks to get their nails either clipped or grinded down, they were not only doing this to get their dogs used to the process but to train the vein inside the nail to grow back, this prevents the dogs nails from becoming too long, and when trimming them there will be less chances of the vein being cut and bleeding. Thus, causing pain and horror for the dog.
The massage of the paws for the dogs started out as only lasting a few seconds, then got built up to 2-3 mins, further doing it was able to do it for 5-7 mins without the dog getting upset or agitated and wanted to bite the groomer etc. The final massages were lasting the length of the nail trimming appointment 10-15 mins depending on the dog and what all needed to be done. In the end all except maybe one of the dogs were more comfortable with the nail trimming process as well as their paws being touched and held for more than a few seconds. The approach of taking the paw is very important as well, most dogs I have notice don’t like to be grabbed from the front, but gently running your hands down their legs picking the paw up from the back and gently bending the paw towards the back in the motion as to working with it.
**** I couldn’t obtain any pictures of the dogs feet during this test, pet parents wouldn’t allow, nor wanted to sign anything for me to able to do this test and share pictures about it for a school paper**** I did try the same technique on my cats at home when I go to trim their nails, and it has improved on two of my cats and it is now much easier to do their nails than it was able to be done before or at all, I was taking them to the vet once a month just to keep up with their nail trimming. The massage technique can also work on cats as long as you work with them, cats are different than dogs usually its their way or no way and most cats don’t do well with any type of new change unless you continue with it.
As part of the PetMassage Foundation Level Program, in addition to completing the hands-on workshop, written canine massage documentations and videos, and home study courses in canine anatomy, dog handling, and marketing, students are required to complete a short research paper.
The reason we have this as a requirement is that when our students complete a focused study on one subject,
- They become an SME, Subject Matter Expert, on their topic.
- This gives them more confidence in their freshly acquired skill set since they can draw on the knowledge that they are experts.
- They can often extrapolate what they’ve learned and apply it to other functions of their dogs.
- They attract clients that will benefit from their specialized study. For example, someone who learns about adipose tissue and the ramifications of obesity will attract dogs with weight issues.
Each of the more than 100 published papers provides a helpful and deeper understanding of dogs and canine massage. Subjects come from canine anatomy, physiology, massage and bodywork, dog handling, dog training, body mechanics, dog psychology, psychic awareness, energy work, and more.
They are on https://petmassage.com as a resource for you to use in your massage practice and general care for your dogs. I encourage you to comment on them, as a peer reviewer.
How do we choose topics? Topics for the papers are chosen based on the conversations students and I have during the workshop.
The people who choose PetMassage for their training are very diverse in their interests and approaches. A recent workshop included a(n)
- Vet tech
- Dog handler
- Dog day care owner who took this workshop the first time 18 years ago
- Instructor in a massage school
- Recently licensed massage therapist from Beijing who is shifting the focus of her practice to dogs.
I thought you’d enjoy reading the topics that our most recent class will be researching.
See if you can figure out which student chose which topic.
- Piriformis, effects of tapotement
- Hernias, applications for massage
- Bone growth in large breed dogs
- Phantom limbs
All of the papers are cached on our website’s Resource Section. Please check it out. There will surely be something there that will interest you. https://petmassage.com/resources/research-papers-case-studies/
Key: 1-A, 2-D, 3-E, 4-C, 5-B
As we drove past a healthcare clinic Anastasia pointed to a sign by the door and read aloud, “Pain Management.”
Pain management!? What are they advertising? I would like to think that the goal would be pain elimination. Rid the patient of the degree of discomfort that it would take to get into the “pain” category; not just manage it.
What is pain? Pain is the body’s way of drawing attention to an area that needs time and stillness to heal. When there is an injury, additional lymphatic fluid is drawn to the area. This is called swelling, or edema. This extra fluid increases heat and pressure on the blood vessels, squeezing them against nerves, thus irritating them. Any movement increases pressure, pushes fluids, triggering the nerves, and causes pain. It’s the body’s way of keeping the area at rest until so it can heal.
People and dogs have a wide range of how much pain they can tolerate. That’s because “pain” is subjective. We can never know for sure what anyone feels. That’s why we ask massage clients to rate their pain in their own words, on their own scale from I to 10. It is a very personal experience. And it’s unique to each of us. Some people can handle a lot of what we would consider to be an unbearable condition, like a broken bone or dislocated joint, and insist that they feel very little discomfort. Others are much more reactive.
Dogs are very much like people in these regards. Some dogs are notably pain tolerant. Others are extremely fragile and vulnerable. Unfortunately they are not able to tell us, by rating their pain on a 1-10 scale. We have to interpret what we believe to be their level of discomfort by assessing their posture, movements, respiration, and facial expressions.
Dogs have definite personalities and ways of dealing with emotional stressors. One dog that’s adopted from a shelter may quickly dive headlong into a joyful new life and family. He adjusts to his new lifestyle on the ride home. Another may hold onto the “rescue dog” persona and base the balance of his life around that drama.
The goal of Canine Massage is to assist dogs to rediscover a quality of life that does not include pain. Where there is coordination and balance, there is no pain. So pain doesn’t have to be managed.
Where there is flexibility, effortless joy in movement, there is no pain. Where there is efficient and optimized circulation, there is no pain. Where there are strong bones, ligaments, tendons, and neural and muscular connections, there is no pain.
Where there is proprioception and confidence in movement, there is no pain. Where disease and wounds have healed and the body is restored, there is no pain. Where there is resolution, there is no pain.
There is only gain.
Canine massage helps dogs in their self healing. But what about chronic pain?
Chronic pain is pain that lasts a long time. It is “pain that extends beyond the expected period of healing”. It is not a life sentence. Chronic pain can be alleviated when the body’s own natural healing abilities are harnessed.
Dogs can be in long lasting states of discomfort. This describes the state of many dogs when they are finally brought in to begin a massage program. Still, the goal is not to manage pain. The goal of canine massage is to attain the most comfortable quality of life possible. Although we may not always be able to get to the level of perfect harmony, the end goal is always the intention. Our eyes stay on the prize.
Canine massage is not a magically spontaneous panacea that miraculously heals. It’s a process. A therapeutic modality. The more we learn about the innate intelligence of the body and the prescient connections we all share, the more we recognize there is real science behind the “art.”
While on the road to as complete a recovery as possible, dogs are still going to feel their bodies. They are going to hurt. As their massages continue-and effects accrue-they will hurt less. If they are taking prescribed pain-meds, massage helps the medication process along. Massage relaxes the tissues and improves circulation so meds can get to where they need to go and do what they are meant to do. The drugs are more effective; so less are needed, and for shorter durations.
What are the benefits of canine massage that alleviate pain? Here are 10 of them:
- Increases circulation
- Lymphatic drainage
- Enhances flexibility
- Flushes the blood of toxins
- Releases tightness and restrictions
- Enhances production of mood elevating hormones
- Maintains ongoing assessment of body mind and spirit
- Supports natural self-care
- Balances TCM chi
- It’s an enjoyable activity.
Dogs are tactile and social. They thrive on touch and companionship. They always signal that they are grateful for their massage and the relief they know they’ll feel. Even when a dog is in the deepest depths of hurt they manage to flash a sparkle in their eyes, and thump a couple of appreciative albeit weak, wags of their tail.
Canine massage encourages dogs’ naturally intuitive drive to thrive, to grow, to refine, to return to balance, and to heal.
And when that state is achieved there is no pain to “manage.”
I was taking a walk with our two dogs. When we are in the park, I’m always scanning the trail for who knows what I might trip over: branches, tree roots, slippery blobs of processed dog food. When we paused for the dogs to get their sniffs on, my attention was drawn to a grayish pinecone near my shoe. It was approximately the same size, color and shape as the others. Even though it was in the midst of big pile of pinecones this one seemed special. It appeared to have a story to share.
Have you ever been walking on a beach and felt a compulsion to lean down and pick up a pebble? What was it about that particular rock and not the others all along the shore? Like the pebble, which you probably kept and have in a basket somewhere in your home, this pinecone reached out to me with its energetic tentacles.
I squatted and carefully picked it up and slowly rotated it in my fingers. It was beautiful. Complex. Organic. And really sticky. Evenly spaced seeds were neatly arranged; small and tightly packed at the top, and spiraling around, graduating in size to broad and distended at the bottom. Its seeds were all slightly different. Each had a slightly different size, shape and angle. A different vision. A different aptitude. A different destiny.
I thought, how amazing! I realized in that moment that I had made an energetic connection to this little life form. My inner knowing was responsive because of this pinecone. And, with this awareness, it was guiding me to relay its message.
The first level of the message was that this singular pinecone contains hundreds of seeds. That’s an entire forest! I’m holding the potential intention of an entire forest of pine trees in the palm of my hand.
So, intentionality and possibility. One of the most important elements in canine massage is to align intentions; and only then can the possible happen. Michael Jordan is quoted as saying “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
My intentions support what the dog is intending: optimizing how he feels, how he moves, and how he behaves. If the dog’s resources are flagging, my massage can bolster them in all three of their levels of being: body, mind, and spirit.
If part of a muscle has lost its ability to function, the rest of the muscle and associated fascia have to figure out how to get it to work as it was meant to. When muscles are in a deep state of torpor and resistance to rediscovery, they need help. Massage is the external influence that dogs need to encourage their affected internal systems to reestablish direction, balance, and function. That’s the rationale for canine PetMassage.
Selecting the cone was not a conscious decision. This join-up of energies was only possible because I was open, accepting, ready, and willing.
Now it it possible that there is no recognizable or compatible sentience emanating from a pinecone and that this is all magical thinking. That may be true; but it doesn’t diminish the experience. What’s important is that my moment of being influenced by a pinecone triggered a series of thoughts which developed into something resembling insightfulness.
With my human massage clients I’m often astounded that I can immediately locate the tight muscle. They ask, “How did you know that was the exact spot where I needed relief?” I don’t know the mechanics of how or why I can do this. I just place my hands where I know they need to go. It’s the same as noticing a pinecone or a pebble on the beach. I am open to suggestion, in any form. I trust my intuition. I attempt to develop the thoughts I have and follow where they lead.
The final message is 3 ways this applies to the practical application of canine massage.
Way 1. Thoughts are powerful. Align your thoughts with those of the dog. Keep them clear, simple, in the present, and joyful. Happy thoughts infuse each touch with confidence, hope, and love.
While we apply the appropriate massage techniques on injured or depleted areas, our intention must stay aligned with the parts that are healthy and functional. What you think about is your reality and the dog’s possibility. Focus on wellness.
Way 2. Stay positive. Throughout the massage, energetic tentacles are reaching out to us asking for attention, presence, witnessing, guidance, and a hand to hold. The tentacles may come from outside of us, or, they be our own thoughts inspired by a trigger.
When our deepest -unconscious – thoughts surface, they are our responses to them. As my Taoist friends say, “If you can’t think something positive, don’t think anything at all.”
Way 3. Stay open. Any resistance that you may have to sharing in the dog’s energetic communication can be ameliorated.
Train yourself to notice when you hold tension in your hands. Rigid fingers and palms project a need to control, willfulness and ego; while supple fingers and palms, project willingness to listen and hear.
Soften your fingers and palms; and breathe through them. To see a free demonstration of how this is done, please check out our YouTube video at https://youtu.be/EQPlxRXx9bw
And, here’s a link to learn more about pinecones, their history, uses, and cultural meanings.
The dog’s truth: Who he is in contrast with who he could be.
The only way we can sense something is if it is against a contrasting backdrop. Activity in stillness, stuckness within flow, moist against dry, hard against soft, sponginess against denseness, tangles in the smooth, threadiness in the midst of fullness.
When you notice, you gain access to a precious and evocative moment that is happening within the recesses of the dog’s body, mind, and spirit. It’s the dog’s truth of who he is now.
During a canine massage, while palpating around a region on the dog’s body, you sense something. It could be heat, coolness, an unexpected texture, a reaction. You have discovered an aspect that informs the dog’s quality of life in this moment. Balance, wellness, happiness, and full function all pivot off the ability of this area to function.
Now that you have noticed where the dissonance lies, you have the opportunity to channel the dog’s resources to resolve it. With your canine massage, you guide the dog back toward comfort, balance, and greater function.
There are many ways to get the job done. Here are 2 methods.
Confront it straightaway.
Place your fingertips on it. Press in, apply pressure, and force it out. The aberration appears gone. You displaced the symptom. Here’s the problem: the cause has not been addressed. Why was it there, and where did it go?
When I was in massage school (for humans) we referred to this type of massage as “search and destroy.” We were on constant lookout for rice in the sand. The straightforward confrontation does provide immediate relief. However, since the cause-stressors are still present, the “fix” doesn’t hold; it is temporary.
When you located the contrast, it was not an isolated issue. It was part of a larger system.
For thinly muscled dogs, pressing on a muscle knot until it softens is not the best way to free its restrictive grip within the tissues long term.
Another approach is PetMassage Positional Myofascial Release.
The purpose and activity of PetMassage Positional Release is to create a venue for debate, deliberation and resolution for the good of the body politic.
The fascia holds stored memories of long forgotten wounds, injuries, and traumas that have all been part of that area’s experience. Their residual effects are present here and now. It hasn’t all been negative. Each point’s history also includes the residual effects of delightful baths in the endorphins that accompany ease of movement, full function, even joyous extremes of hyperactivity that pushed its boundaries and helped it grow and strengthen.
Here’s how it works. Call a meeting. A meeting of fascia. Collect the dog’s skin and coat around the contrast in your hands, and with it everything in the surrounding fascia. You are engaging the tissues cranial, caudal, laterally on either side of it, above it and below it. These are the elements of the localized fascial system of that area. They are stakeholders. They depend on this area of the body to fully function so that they can function fully.
Observe how it moves in your hands. It is never completely still. Where there’s life, there’s movement. The movements are often small. They might be extremely subtle; yet, you can still feel them. You may need to close your eyes and block out distractions. The skin! It moved! You detect movement beneath the coat! Back and forth, turning and sliding, it adjusts, allowing the out of sync behaviors within the tissues, the causes, to resolve themselves. Complicated interrelationships within the tissues begin to de-tangle, simplify and sort themselves out.
What do we feel? We feel the tissues around the contrast release and breathe. We feel the absence of contrast. That is, what we feel is no longer remarkable. That’s all we can know for sure.
Aha; but a lot more is going on within the dog
- the muscles relax
- the triggerpoints soften
- energy gates open
- dormant acupoints are stimulated
- constrictions around nerve plexuses are loosened
- scar tissue from long ago dissolves
- a holding pattern is let go
- and the rich flow of blood, lymph, spinal fluid, energy, chi, and Prana is restored.
These are the life and times of the dogs viewed through the filter of the canine massage practitioner. It’s all about the identifying of the contrast, facilitating the fascia in a MasterMind session, and witnessing the resolution of a problem.
Would you like to learn more about canine massage? Would you like to learn how to massage your own dogs? Would you like to train to practice it well enough to create a canine massage business?
I invite you to visit www.petmassage.com. Order my books, DVDs, and register for vocational training workshops and continuing ed home study courses.