Brown Recluse Spider Bites on Dogs

By PetMassage | December 10, 2020 |

Full Title: Brown Recluse Spider Bites on Dogs

Author: Heather Baublitz

Date of Publication: September 17, 2020


Research Paper Text:

How dangerous are Brown Recluse Spider bites to dogs? A spider’s hemotoxic venom does have the potential to be fatal especially in small dogs. The venom of a brown recluse spider penetrates deeper into the tissues sometimes affecting fat and muscles The Spiders venom causes necrosis in the skin (cell death) As progression goes on the dead cells will turn black and fall off, leaving a gaping wound that may be the width of the hand. The venom destroys the surrounding tissue of the bite. The bite leaves a creator like scar after being healed.

Symptoms appear in 4-8 hours after a bite, a red itchy skin lesion develops around the site. The bite may sometimes have a bullseye look with a white center or a ring around the outside. There may be a blistered area, as well as redness and swelling. Systemic infection can take up to four days to appear: Thirst, fever, vomiting, nausea, anemia, water retention (edema), renal failure, weakness, muscle or joint pain, seizures, swelling, redness, puss, weak pulse, increased heart rate, lethargy, trouble walking, or standing, drooling and diarrhea. Are all just a few symptoms to look for.

How can you tell your dog was bitten by the Brown Recluse Spider? Dogs may yelp, increasingly anxious and excited, some will whine, or excessively lick at the wound site, look for drunk walking. (bites often impact coordination) A brown recluse spider is not an aggressive spider they will not bite unless becoming unintentionally disturbed in its space, like being stepped on or crushed. Brown recluse prefer dark and uninhabited spaces away from humans and animals. They are active at night, building irregular webs under logs, rocks or in a house in closets or cardboard boxes.  The spider is recognizable by its brown in color and the violin shaped mark on its back. But not at spiders have this marking the young don’t receive till older. The recluse spiders have six eyes rather than three.   They measure 8-15 mm in body size and its longish legs around 2-3 cm. The best way to tell what kind of spider the bites from is by capturing it. The standard examination includes a complete blood profile, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count and a urinalysis. A coagulation profile may also be used to check your dog’s clotting ability. You can ask your doctor to check for venom, but this is not commonly used unless the brown recluse bite is specifically suspected.

Treatments for the recluse spider bites include Ice packs for redness and swelling, Corticosteroids are often prescribed to stop the necrosis from spreading too much, and it helps contain the venom in the infected cells, and systemic illness from starting.

The brown recluse spider is commonly found in the mid-west section of U.S. West to Colorado and New Mexico. East to Northern Georgia and throughout the southern U.S and up the Mississippi River valley to southern Wisconsin.

My Australian Shepherd was bitten about a year ago now. The wound doubled in size within hours and was red and pussy, by the time I got him to the veterinarian the next morning the wound was larger than my hand the center where the bite was, was still red and pussy. The surrounding area was black.  The veterinarian ran blood work and started anti-biotics immediately, he recommended me to hold ice on it 3-4 times a day and wrap the area so he couldn’t lick at site. Due to the large damaged area, Dr. Mack wanted to sedate Brutus and remove all the damaged tissue from the area within a week.

Every morning and evening I would rub cold Epson salt compresses on the affected area within five days the dead tissue fell off on its own before the procedure to remove it.

References: poison
Personal experience


Who Stole My Tail and Why Does It Itch? A Look at Phantom Limb Pain and Phantom Limb Sensation

By PetMassage | December 10, 2020 |

Full Title: Who Stole My Tail and Why Does It Itch? A Look at Phantom Limb Pain and Phantom Limb Sensation

Author: Jacqueline Miaso

Date of Publication: December 8, 2020


Research Paper Text:

Since 70 to 80% of human amputees report phantom sensations of some sort within six months of amputation, and most reporting it immediately after surgery, with pain ranging from “mild and infrequent to severe and chronic” per Nicole Cutler, L.Ac, MTCM, Dipl. Ac, in her article Bodywork Techniques for Phantom Pain, I think we can safely extrapolate that dogs may also experience this.  Whether it is just for limbs, or also encompasses tail and ear docking, we have no way of knowing for sure.  Humans, however, have reported it after losing not only an arm or leg, but also an eye or a breast.

Ms. Cutler also states that “new amputees tend to have frequent and intense sensations several times every day, often continuously for a few hours at a time.  After a while, the sensations typically become less frequent, less intense…however, many amputees report that phantom pain never completely disappears.”

The Amputee Coalition of America describes phantom limb pain (PLP) as “ongoing painful sensations that seem to be coming from the part of the limb that is no longer there.  The limb is gone but the pain is real.” And, according to, also reported by amputees is Phantom Limb Sensation – an itch, a tickle, or as if the missing limb is asleep.  Most often it is mild and not painful. PLP however “may feel like a quick zing or flash up your limb.  Or it may feel more like burning, twisting, cramping, or aching.”

Fortunately there are ways to alleviate the pain – one of which is massage.  According to B-L Family Practice in South Carolina, “Many patients find that having the amputation site massaged can help alleviate phantom limb pain.  Massage soothes the nerve endings in this area, helping them to relax and stop sending pain signals to your brain.”  They recommend gentle pressure at the amputation site.

Moreover, since the dogs cannot tell us if they are having pain or sensations, performing massage as if they do will certainly cause no harm.  And the deep relaxation that many dogs experience from massage can certainly aid in pain relief.

Reiki has proven helpful in humans as has Cranial-Sacral therapy with its gentle touch to increase cerebrospinal fluid circulation.  With dog massage we are always working to increase the flow of body fluids especially along the spine. So it makes sense that these methods will help in pain relief in dogs especially since many experts believe the cause of phantom pain is generated from the spinal cord and brain as part of the neural circuitry.  It is theorized that the area of the brain responsible for perceiving sensation begins to act abnormally and “thinks” the body part still exists. states that “The massage therapy we offer can increase blood flow to and from the area of amputation helping to improve circulation.  This can also aid in reducing phantom pain as poor blood circulation can be a contributing factor to phantom pain.”

The Massage Clinic at St. John’s Rehabilitation Hospital, Toronto, Canada, lists the following indicators for post-amputation massage therapy: “Reduce swelling, increase circulation, reduce muscle tightness and stiffness, reduce scar tissue tightness, reduce spasms, increase muscle length, decrease pain, decrease anxiety and stress, improve sleep (i.e. duration), increase state of relaxation.”

St. John’s further says that massage therapy may consist of the following:  “massage applied directly to the amputated end (stump), to the muscles and soft tissues above the amputated area (the residual limb), or to soft tissues at the proximal end of the effected limb.”  A more general massage can help as well with the goal of reducing stress and anxiety.

Compensatory structures (areas not directly associated with the amputated limb) need to also be considered for massage.  We already know that a dog limping on his right front leg probably needs to have his left front leg thoroughly massaged because he will put more stress on it in order to take pressure off the injured or aching leg.   This imbalance can lead to repetitive strain disorders in the unaffected limbs and needs to be addressed early on. Also common in people with lower limb loss is back and neck pain.  Since dogs normally carry 60% of their body weight on their front legs, amputation of a front limb may cause even more back strain than a rear limb, so extra attention to the back may be even more important.

It is interesting that headaches are very commonly reported after amputation, with many possible causes.  Massage therapy in humans has proven to help decrease the muscle tightness and soft tissue restriction and induce a relaxation effect which can manage, if not eliminate, headache symptoms.  Since dogs stubbornly refuse to learn to talk to us (in our language), why not assume that they may have headaches for a while (especially if they shy away from contact with their heads), and pay extra attention to the entire head, including ears or ear stumps.

When initially researching this topic, one of my questions to myself was: How do we know if we’re helping ease phantom pain or sensation if we don’t know if the dog is experiencing it? Well, we don’t know for sure that dogs experience phantom limb pain or phantom limb sensation but based on how they have been used and misused extensively throughout history for various experiments because they so closely resemble us, I think we can assume that they do.  Massage therapy has proven very effective for a large majority of humans post-amputation so why wouldn’t we try it for dogs.  Since the majority of the painful PLP occurs soon after amputation, treatment should begin as soon as possible and continue as long as needed.  In my massage practice with dogs, I have found they let me know which areas are still painful and which are better than the last time I saw them so if you “listen” to your dog you can learn how long to continue a specific massage method.  After all, according to “The evidence on mood improvement from amputee massage therapy is strong.”    

And who doesn’t want their dog to be in a good mood! 

Relaxed Knees

By PetMassage | December 9, 2020 |

Full Title: Relaxed Knees

Author: Rosemarie Hughes

Date of Publication: December 8, 2020


Research Paper Text:

This paper will explore why a person would want to work with “soft” versus “locked” knees. I’ll be discussing the benefits of keeping your knees relaxed as well as what can happen if you work with them tensed or stiff. I’ll also be taking a look at some information that states it’s not necessarily bad to “lock” the knees.

When I went through training to be a massage therapist in 1993 there was quite a lot of talk about “body mechanics”. I must have paid attention to what they had to say because 27 years later I’m still a body worker and have very few aches or pains. I recall things being said like,”While massaging the client keep your knees flexed and shift your weight between the lead and trailing foot as needed to maintain balance.” (Brothers, 2018, 7 Principles of Highly Effective Massage Therapy Body Mechanics. But perhaps the words of wisdom that stuck with me the most was the profoundly simple, “Work smarter not harder”, which I just learned originated in the 1930s by industrial engineer Allen F. Morgenstern. He was the creator of the work simplification program that was intended to increase the ability of people to produce more with less effort.

Prior to my hearing such phrases in the world of body workers I had also been told similar things regarding knees by the U.S. Army. I was in basic training in 1988 and besides shouting at us to, “Drink Water!” the drill sergeants were also loudly instructing us, “Do NOT lock your knees!” To illustrate just how serious they are regarding the knees, here’s a somewhat humorous passage from the book, Basic Training for Dummies, “Warning: If you don’t remember anything else, do not forget to unlock your knees when you’re participating in stationary drill. Bend your knees just enough so that it is not visible that you’re doing so but enough to allow the blood to flow smoothly through your legs. Failing to unlock your knees will impede the blood flow to your brain so that, after a time (and you will find that stationary drill in the military often requires you to stand still for long periods), you’ll grow faint and pass out. It’s not a pleasant experience to suddenly find yourself abruptly kissing the asphalt of a parade grinder or the steel of a ship’s deck.” (Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2011, Understanding Stationary Drill, from Basic Training for Dummies. Retrieved from

According to the American Chiropractic Association, there are several factors to physically standing properly including bearing your weight primarily on the balls of your feet and keeping your knees slightly bent. Through the years, I have found that keeping my knees soft when working, along with proper foot placement, gives me a sense of grounded strength and stability. Keeping one’s body loose and relaxed assists with the easy flow of energy, that might otherwise block Chi. Related to Chi and energy flow, I’ve also heard talk about “locking knees” in the world of yoga.

During various yoga classes in which I’ve participated, I recall being told that I actually should lock my knees. “Locking the knee is NOT jamming your knee back as far as you can and trying to balance on it.” “There are 4 muscles in the quadricep femoris muscle group in the front of your leg. The one that is hardest to “turn on” is the vastus medialis obliquus (VMO) on the inside of the leg just above the knee.  Its job is to extend the length of the thigh and to stabilize the patella (knee cap) so your knee tracks correctly. The VMO muscle is a common centre of weakness in many people because it will not become fully strengthened unless the leg is regularly extended fully.  It becomes more fully activated when the knee is at a greater angle, especially when the leg is completely extended.” (Birkram Yoga Brookvale, Why Locking the Knee is so important in Bikram Yoga. Retrieved from Understandably, this led to some confusion which I came to realize was an issue of semantics.

I had previously understood locking knees to mean making them stiff and hyperextended.“ The word ‘lock’ implies making something fixed.  Movement is dynamic, and while we need to be stable, we are not looking to overly grip on any joints, but for a balanced muscle activation.  What we do look for in many Pilates exercises, is a full extension of the knees – an active drawing upward of the kneecap toward the hip bone. Working or standing with locked or hyper-extended knees brings that joint aligned slightly behind the ideal line with gravity, putting compressive stress and wearing down of the joint. Long term, a major ligament, commonly referred to as the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), responsible for nearly 100% of your knee stability is weakened.  In general, every time you hyperextend the knee, you are compromising yourself to injury. (Embody Movement Pilates Studio Blog, 2015. A Locked Knee is Not Secure. Retrieved from 

Edward Mohr, LMT conducted a field study that focused on testing the strength capability of 18 massage therapists. The results show that stacking and locking joints and properly transferring body weight allows massage therapists to achieve the same amount of pressure while decreasing the amount of effort needed. (Note: for individuals with lax knee joints, do not hyperextend the knee when “locking” the knee). (American Massage Therapy Association. Work Smarter, Not Harder: Body Mechanics for Massage Therapists. (2014). Retrieved from I also found studies that said things like, “People with hyperextension of the knees need to retrain what “straight” feels like and learn to not go to their “bony end-point”. They don’t get the pleasure of standing with a “locked out” knee. When the knee is locked it is very stable ligament-wise and it is easy to stand with little to no muscles needed. Keeping your knees “soft” takes some muscular work, including core work, and it’s hard to remember.” (Herman, 2017, Knee Hyperextension: Its All In Your Mind! Retrieved from

As I stated earlier, if there’s a discrepancy, it seems to be a matter of semantics. Be extra careful if you have a tendency to hyperextend? Of course. Stabilize the patella so your knee tracks correctly while holding yoga poses? Definitely. But I think it would also be helpful to use different words instead of summing all these different movements up as “locking”.

When it comes to soft vs. locked knees for bodyworkers, however, I agree with yoga practitioner, Maren Hunsberger, “If you lock your knee joint when standing, the ball and socket of the joint is forced ever so slightly out of place, usually overextended backward. In the long term, this can damage the joint cartilage and lead to aching, creaky, and even arthritic knees.” (Hunsberger, Ask A Yogi: Is Locking the Knees in Yoga Poses a Bad Thing? Retrieved from

Works cited

Giordano, C. How to Work Harder, Smarter, and Better: Quotes From Famous People on Work. (2020). Tough Nickel. Retrieved from

American Chiropractic Association. Maintaining Good Posture. Retrieved from 


American Massage Therapy Association. Work Smarter, Not Harder: Body Mechanics for Massage Therapists. (2014). Retrieved from

The Trager Approach

By PetMassage | December 9, 2020 |

Full Title: The Trager Approach

Author: Dawn Shiffman

Date of Publication: December 8, 2020


Research Paper Text:

The Trager approach was developed by Milton Trager, MD. He began to develop his approach when he was 18. The idea behind the approach was to rediscover the ease of movement in our bodies similar to when we were children. The sessions involve a mind body approach in which gentle movements, stretching and rocking can bring a client back to a feeling of wellbeing.

The body holds onto pain both mentally and physically.  This is our way to protect ourselves and move on post trauma. Muscle tension, pain, stress and poor gait patterns are just a few survival methods developed post injury and can be corrected by using the Trager approach. As a therapist, we must be aware of these tension patterns and help guide our clients to release them during their journey to recovery.

How does the Trager approach apply to dogs?  I’m really not sure but I did have  a “light bulb” moment while reading an article about Trager.  One of the techniques Trager uses is called “taking out the slack.”  He is referring to the skin as slack and how to avoid just sliding over the skin and moving it around.  As you move the skin gently but firmly, you are preparing the body to be able to reach the deeper tissues.  I am reminded of myofascial release while reading about the taking out the slack method and how many emotions can be released with such a gentle intended movement.  The fascia that is connecting the skin to the underlying tissues webs throughout the body and affects muscles, blood vessels, nerves and even organs.  When the fascia is released it can be felt throughout the body because of its far-reaching nature. Once the slack is out of the skin, gentle rocking and stretching can occur. The stretching consists of gentle methodical movement which allows the stretch to lengthen with each movement.

I decided to give the Trager approach a try on my neighbor’s dog.  Her name is Piper and she is a mixed breed that the owners believe is part Beagle and Labrador Retriever.  When Piper was a young puppy, she was very excited to see me and ran into a fence while trying to come to me. She fractured all of her metacarpals in her front right paw.  I have never heard a puppy cry as much as Piper did that night.  To say the least it was a traumatic event for a puppy and I was there for the entire healing process.  During one of my PetMassage sessions with Piper, I tried to help her release some of those terrible memories that have surely caused her pain and gait dysfunction for years.  I was steady with my breathing and tried to rid my mind of her accident. My intentions went immediately to her shoulder and I started with taking out the slack.  She and I were very much in harmony as I stretched and rocked her affected arm. I do believe she improved with work to her shoulder and paw. Piper is usually guarded with any touch to her paw.  As I massaged, she let me work between each pad, through her wrist and on up to her shoulder without any resistance.  Obviously a dog can’t tell you how they are feeling after a session but Piper  did make it quite obvious that she appreciated it. She rolled onto her side, gave me a quick kiss and refused to get off my table.

In conclusion, dogs and humans are deeply affected by touch.  The Trager approach can be another tool in your toolbox for both if you see value in it.  The Trager approach is a gentle, methodical technique that can deeply affect a life for the better and create balance at the same time.


Juhan, Deane. “Taking Out the Slack.” Trager International, 2020, Accessed 25 October 2020.

My personal vision for providing the best integrative care alternatives for our dogs is shared and supported.

By Anastasia Rudinger | December 3, 2020 |

Wishbones: more than you probably wanted to know.

By Jonathan Rudinger | November 25, 2020 |

We humans have an innate need to have some sense of control of our futures. We believe that with focus and intention we can influence the making of our dreams to come true. We believe in Karma. We believe in the power of prayer, affirmations, goal setting, and plans of action.

The act of wishing is valuable in itself. Wishing, choosing what to wish for, helps us define what we want. When our goals are definable, they are attainable.

And, once a year, we allow our hopes and dreams to ride on the snap of the clavicle of a toasted turkey. The wishbone.

So what exactly is a wishbone? And, does a dog have one?

The wishbone is a forked bone found in birds and some other animals. The Latin term for the shape of the wishbone is furcula, which means “little fork.” It is formed by the fusion of the two clavicles.

What’s a clavicle?

The clavicle in mammals is part of the axial skeleton. It’s a doubly curved short bone that connects the arm (upper limb) to the body (trunk). Its location is directly above the first rib. Place your thumb and forefinger around the base of your neck and the bones you feel when you press downward are your clavicles. They’re also known as “collar bones”.

Medially, it articulates with the manubrium of the sternum (top of the breast-bone) at the sternoclavicular joint. At its lateral end it articulates with the acromion of the scapula (shoulder blade) at the acromioclavicular joint.

The clavicle in mammals serves several functions. It serves as a rigid support from which the scapula and free forelimb are suspended. This arrangement has the function of keeping the upper limb away from the thorax (ribcage) so that the arm has maximum range of movement. Acting as a flexible crane-like strut, the clavicle allows the scapula to move freely on the thoracic wall. Its surface features are attachment sites for muscles and ligaments of the shoulder.

In birds, its primary function is in the strengthening of the thoracic skeleton to withstand the rigors of flight. The furcula works as a strut between a bird’s shoulders, and articulates to each of the bird’s scapulae (shoulder blades). In conjunction with the coracoid and the scapula, it forms a unique structure called the triosseal canal, which houses a strong tendon that connects the supracoracoideus muscles to the humerus. This system is responsible for lifting the wings during the recovery stroke.

Dogs don’t fly; so, they don’t have a furcula.

Most mammals have at least a vestigal remnant of a clavicle, although it is in varying degrees of development. The reason some animals have either a reduced or no clavicle is that this bone supports muscles used in climbing. If the animal doesn’t climb, it doesn’t use it, doesn’t need it, and it devolves.

Climbers like cats do have clavicles. So do squirrels, monkeys and humans. We all need the bones to support the muscles useful in climbing trees. We can also rotate our limbs (especially forelimbs) outward to help grasp tree trunks and limbs. So, animals that can climb trees have clavicles.

Dogs really can’t climb trees! Do dogs have any remnants or versions of clavicles?

Animals that run, like horses and dogs, really don’t have a need for a clavicle or the support it provides. They have a “floating shoulder.” This improves running efficiency because once the shoulder blade is no longer restrained by the clavicle, it can act almost like an extra limb segment.

The vestigial remnants of dogs clavicles are about the size and shape of buttons and function as sites for muscle attachment. Dogs are designed for speed.

Do dogs wish on wishbones too? At them, or for them, not on them. Lying at your feet under the Thanksgiving table, you can be sure that your dogs are living in the moment without the control issues that we have. They don’t envision needing a bigger crate or more toys. They are simply present; tantalized by the aromas of the feast above and willing with all their might that something -anything- will drop.

Designed, yes; functioning and motivated? As you lock eyes with your dog under the table, you think, “Yeah, at eating.”

As you grasp the turkey wishbone this Thanksgiving holiday dinner, and express your gratitude for the prosperity you are creating, and your friends and loved ones, please know that everyone at The PetMassage School includes you in their prayers. Thank you for your continued interest in, and passion for, canine massage.

What happens in Vegas.

By Jonathan Rudinger | October 27, 2020 |

What happens in Vegas. We’ve all heard (or said), “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Or New York, or Chicago, or Miami, or —-. Canine massage is not like that. What happens on the table (except if the dog is incontinent) doesn’t stay on the table. It stays with, and becomes, part of who the dog is.

Do you remember that time when you had that heart-to-heart conversation with someone you were getting to know. It was that evening when you began sharing confidences at dinner. You only noticed the time when the brightening sky transformed the ambiance of the room. It was a new day. You two had talked until dawn.

The conversation was all-consuming. It was alive. Organic. You listened. You shared. You were heard. You understood and were understood. Your worth was recognized. Appreciated. You realized that you had the capacity to let down your guard and connect deeply with another. To love.

You may not remember what you talked about or even who you were with; it was the experience of it that stays with you.

Canine massage is that focused. That intense. That immersive. That personal. That open. With that depth of sharing. With that candor. With that intimacy. That level of trust.

That night, building on who you thought you were, your self-awareness expanded to include new insights. These memories will become part of the fabric of your inner-garments. They will influence all your future relationships. They, and variations of them, will randomly surface for the rest of your life. Hundreds of times. This one night was an event that changed your life’s course.

This is how dogs experience massage.

Intentional touch, and its potential to do good, is the mainstay of massage. Every touch elicits a response. A response is an acknowledgement. A reaction. That reaction might be acceptance, with a lick, a look, or softening. It might be resistance, with bracing, lowered ears, or raised lip. It might be repulsion, with pulling away, turning, grasping the table surface with claws, or tensing. It might be suspicion, with quicker respiration, tightly closed mouth, wide eyes with whale eyes, the white sclera visible. It might even be disregarding, seemingly ignoring, non-acknowledgement. There is always a response.

Each response is a cycle.
1. the inhalation of the essence of the pressure into the body; and
2. an exhalation that chooses how to respond and integrate it.

Are the effects transitory? Are they limited to singular moments of transference and transition?

The touch of massage flips dogs’ internal mind and body toggle switches. It adjusts their little knobs, opens passageways, redirects traffic, and turns processes on, then off, then on again, like updating your phone. Dogs signal that they feel it. They recognize it. They own it. Each of their massages, like your special night, enables them to become expanded versions of themselves. Optimized.

Their life’s compilation of unique and meaningful experiences now includes their canine massage insights. Massage enables dogs to become enhanced versions of themselves, newly formatted, redirected, moving into their new life. It’s a new day.

What happens on the massage table doesn’t stay on the massage table. It stays with and becomes, a tiny facet of who the dog is.

Each canine massage I give is a special, life-changing event for the dog.

By Anastasia Rudinger | October 27, 2020 |

Fascia, scar tissue and holding patterns

By PetMassage | October 26, 2020 |

Full Title: Fascia, scar tissue and holding patterns

Author: Alice Reynolds

Date of Publication: May 23, 2016


Research Paper Text:

Scar tissue is the fibrous, connective tissue that forms after a strain as the body attempts to repair a torn muscle. This forms a haphazard pattern over the injury as the muscle tries to join the torn fibres together. Scar tissue is not the same as the tissue it replaces. It is tough and fibrous and not as flexible as muscle tissue. Therefore, scar tissue can reduce the muscle’s flexibility and range of motion and increase the risk of re-strain, unless the scar tissue is broken down and remodeled.

Because the new, tough, fibrous type of connective tissue lays down after a muscle is torn after a strain, the body needs to repair itself. This can take from one week to three months, depending on the grade of strain. Because of the holding process, many dogs will be diagnosed as having arthritis. The dog seems old and lame overnight. This orthopedic condition has become a blanket term for lameness in dogs.

Once one area is injured, the dog will overcompensate. Often a dog will be treated for front right lameness, but the issue is actually on the back left.

A strain with scar tissue will also result in compensatory issues. One injury can result in a host of problems and become a cyclical issue. The detection of scar tissue lies in the art of muscle isolation and palpation.

Tissue is not mindless. Tissue is full of sensations, feelings and old memories. In fact fascia has more sensory nerves than any other tissue in the body. So, as you release fascia, you are waking up the body’s sensations. Moving from the past to the present. Underneath most of our myofascial holding patterns is repressed emotional trauma. Emotional trauma is held in the soft tissue of the body.

By relaxing muscles and reducing tension, massage frees the pattern where the unconscious feeling is being held. Once the tension is gone, the unconscious mind loses its grasp and an emotion may emerge.

Holding patterns may be the result of a dog compensating for a past injury or they may be caused by past emotional trauma. If a dog experiences change, uncertainty, fear or pain, he will armor himself for protection. As part of the sympathetic nervous system, fight or flight mechanism, the muscle will brace in flexion, the breath is held, digestion stops, self-restrictive postures, such as slinking, crouching and cowering are implemented, reducing oxygenation, circulation and overall flexibility. Holding patterns affect the unconscious way muscles are held in emotional or physical situations. Therapeutic massage, such as Petmassage TM, helps to re-educate the muscle memory held in a dog’s body, allowing for more freedom of movement and new choices in which to move, behave and respond.

Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt , L.M.T. states in his book Canine Massage A Complete Reference Manual, “This stretching and softening will help release muscle tension, contractures, trigger points, stress points and spasms, eventually breaking down scar tissue.”

Canine Massage Guild Case Study: Buddy the Sheltie

Buddy, an 8 year old Sheltie, lost his footing in an agility tunnel, flipped over and exited on his back. He was taken to a physiotherapist who recommended x-rays. No injury was found. After courses of Metacam and Loxicom had finished, he was no better.

A year later he was given a superficial palpation. Extensive scar tissue was found from strains along the muscles that run down each side of his spine and signs of a strain to one of his gluteal muscles. Three massage sessions within a three to five week period was recommended.

Buddy was running on walks and playing like a puppy after his first session. After the second session he was playing chase with the other family dogs and jumping on the sofa and bed. He now goes on long walks and happily trots along under his own steam.

This wonderful story of Buddy, his injury and scar tissue recovery, including a video taken after his first massage session, can be seen on the Canine Massage Guild website. Go to the blog Canine Massage – A case Study.




Sources   – Canine Massage – A Case Study Catriona Dickson – Canine Massage Therapy Centre Worcestershire UK

Biodynamic Breath and Trauma Release Institute – Satyarthi Peloquin – Working with Emotional Trauma in Bodywork Sessions – Cathy Ulrich Freedom for Feelings – Therapeutic Bodywork and Energy Healing

Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt, LMT – Canine Massage A Complete Reference Manual

I lead dogs through paths that have never been trod. We go on easy, loving journeys.

By Anastasia Rudinger | October 16, 2020 |