What do Positional Releases feel like?
During positional release, we hold the dog’s body -in a position- and observe how in the tissues under our hands release tension. We describe these releases as shifts in the fascia. The movements can be obvious, like an inflated balloon releasing air, or very subtle, like your mood change when the sun breaks through dispersing clouds.
We can usually feel physical softening or unraveling sensations beneath the coat, within the muscles. Sometimes, the movements are so subtle we cannot feel anything. So we train ourselves to sense sensations that we can identify; one of them is the shifts in our own body awareness. When we can identify that these sensations are happening, that’s enough to signal that resolutions of restrictions are occurring in the dog’s physical body.
In canine massage, our connection, the connection between Practitioner and dog is so profound, so strong, so intimately personal, that whatever happens in either of us affects, and is experienced by, both of us.
The releases are not -cannot be- exactly the same. If the dog feels a release in her hip, or tail, or gut, or a resolution of a restrictive memory, we cannot experience the identical sensation. That’s a good thing. I wouldn’t want to massage a dog with worms and on the way home, need to butt scoot boogie across the sidewalk.
The physiology of our hips are different. We don’t have tails. Our guts have uniquely different microbiomes and have developed specialized processes for digestion. And, since we see our worlds through different light spectra and perceive the world through different sets of filters, we cannot share like-minded memories.
We can sense when changes are happening in the dog. We can know something is happening by noticing shifts, like the deflating balloon and the caress of sunshine, in our own awareness.
This is certainly not scientific. It’s more of an art. For thousands of years Healthcare was as much Art as science. PetMassage often straddles the boundaries between the physical and metaphysical. We can tell that something is happening. It is like noticing that we’ve lapsed into and out of a meditative state while playing or listening to music.
We can describe and record what we feel while massaging specific sites on the dog’s body. However, everything in the body is interconnected through a complex matrix of fascia connective tissue, so we cannot know what the release is actually resolving, or what its source is. The release could be physical. It could be mental/emotional. It could be environmental. It could be a result of shared synergy. Your yin may be the exact complement to balance the dogs yang. We cannot know for sure. Yet, that something releases, is obvious and true.
How can we claim this? How can we be certain that our experiences are more than caprices of our imaginations? The dogs tell us.
Our sensations are consistently validated by the associated movements of the dogs. Here are examples of canine body talk that say “I just moved into a more comfortable place.” They turn toward us, look up at us and blink, they soften or gently close their eyes, they drool, drip from their nose, stretch, yawn, lick, sigh, quiver, shake, quietly pass a whfffffph of gas, and lean into us (join up).
I’d like you to feel what that shift feels like. Sit quietly at your table with your favorite mug of warm beverage. Have a few other objects strewn across the table. In this exercise we will see that you can identify shifts in your awareness and emotional state.
Look at your coffee mug. Notice that when the mug is in focus, everything except the mug is out of focus. Now expand your vision and look at the entire table. You can see everything clearly. Then as you scan the table, when each object moves into focus, everything else fades, softens, and blurs.
Had you noticed before that your vision was so like tapping the focus feature on your camera screen? Your eyes move. Your pupils dilate. Your focus adjusts. There are no other moving parts. Yet it’s an experiential teeter totter.
The shifts you experience may not be palpate-able yet they are palpable. As you express interest in what you see, your heart rate slightly increases. Blood flow is redirected to the part of your brain that’s processing the information. With each redirection of your attention, your body almost imperceptibly adjusts its metabolic rate. Almost. If you know what to observe, you can feel it.
Train yourself to strengthen your awareness muscles. For becoming more adept at feeling the more obvious movements. Practice by first finding your pulse on your wrist and the back of your knee. Then find your dog’s pulse in her groin, behind her stifle, and on the top of her paw. Notice their rates and patterns.
For the subtle cues, practice glancing around the room. Track what it feels like when you adjust your vision from wide angle to focused and back.
There is an eye strengthening exercise of holding your thumb out in front of you and shifting your focus back and forth from your thumbnail to the horizon or wall behind it. That’s not what we’re doing here. We are tracking how our body feels when shift happens.
The dog’s body is constantly in flux. When you cannot palpate any movement, it is still there. You are simply not observing in the right way and in the right place. Look within.
The more you notice what you are experiencing, the more you can notice in PetMassage Positional Release. When you sense the learned feeling of what you feel when your awareness shifts, you can track the imperceptible positional releases happening in the dog.
I just responded to an inquiry from a RVT about our school. You may have similar questions. If you do – even if you don’t – please read on.
I am an RVT from California currently working as an instructor at a college. I am interested in your program thinking of starting a pet-sitting with adaptive features.
I have a few questions:
- I understand that there is some home requirement after the meeting at the facility. Is there a list of the requirements somewhere?
- If I attend the foundation level in June will I still be able to attend the advanced level in August?
- Can the video and home-work be done on feline patients or do they have to be submitted only on canine?
- Do you go over body-talk at all?
- As there are a few schools, is there anything that makes your facility different?
Here’s my response.
Thank you for expressing your interest in training at PetMassage. The Foundation course that we offer RVTs is approved by the RAIVE for 28 CEs. It does not include the marketing and basic canine anatomy home study modules. Marketing and creating a canine massage business is not included because most RVTs are working in veterinary clinics and Canine Anatomy, because it would be redundant. You are welcome to take the Creating and Marketing Your Canine Massage Business as an additional home study course.
All course materials, books and DVDs are included in your course fees and are mailed to you prior to your attending a workshop. Students are encouraged to study them to prepare prior to the workshop; and use them to review after their hands-on training.
Every skill described in the books and videos is tweaked and refined in the workshop. There is no substitute for hands-on instruction for a hands-on skill set. That’s why the workshop is so important.
The requirements to complete the certification course are
- submission of 2 take home tests
- documentations of 10 canine massage sessions,
- a research paper on a topic agreed upon during the workshop,
- a short video of you demonstrating the skills you learned in the workshop
- a 2nd video of you critiquing your 1st video.
You are welcome to take the Advanced Level Training as long as you complete all the requirements from the Foundation Level Workshop before the Advanced class begins. Over the years several students have submitted their Foundation work on the first day of the Advanced.
I have found that I cannot give everyone the individual attention they need when we had large classes so we limit the number of people in each workshop. We have 1 space left in the June class.
This is a canine massage class. You are welcome to adapt the skills to work with cats – and they do translate well with cats, horses, rabbits, ferrets, reptiles, and birds – however your documentations and videos for this course must be with dogs. If you would like my feedback with your cat massage, I’d be happy to offer it.
Body language and body mechanics are significant elements in this training. The Foundation workshop includes a half day of dog handling skills (body talk) and a half day of working on Practitioner gait and movement. We see the Practitioner as the leader. Dogs respond better when they can sense that the one responsible for their safety is stable and balanced in her/his body.
I cannot compare our school to others that teach canine massage. I cannot speak about what or how they teach. I can tell you that we do not offer certificates from the PetMassage Institute for home study of canine massage hands-on skills. (See paragraph 2.)
The PetMassage School has been teaching workshops for 22 years. That’s over 350 workshops and over a thousand people. Several of our graduates have gone on to create their own schools in several countries. With each class we review and refine what and how we teach. Our classes are limited to 8 students. That way we are able to tailor the training to fit the needs of each individual group. The workshops you attend will be the most current iterations of our training.
If you would like to preview my style of teaching and the perspective from which I approach canine massage – that would be the difference your were asking about – please visit our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTLn7J2DR9LIwM1WzXu5B3w
and review some of my weekly instructional blogs: https://petmassage.com/category/petmassage-blog/jonathans-helpful-hints/
Again, thank you for your interest. I’m confident you’ll be pleased with the training you receive at The PetMassage Training and Research Institute.
2950 Douglas Road
Toledo OH 43606
Full Title: Eye Gunk
Author: Jill Valuet
Date of Publication: January 14, 2019
Research Paper Text:
January 14, 2019
If you’re looking for that perfect article about gross topics like pus-like discharge and crusty gunk, you are in luck and keep reading.
Eye gunk, eye boogers, crusties – it goes by a couple of unpleasant names. It’s that gooey, liquid discharge that can feel like slim when you pet your dog’s face and stains the skin around their eyes. Everything about a dog has a purpose, including this one. Dogs have a natural teary discharge. Under normal circumstances, purpose of these tears is to clear the eye of any debris. Normally a thin layer of fluid is produced to coat the eyes and excess fluid will drain into the tear ducts located in the corner of the eyes. Eye gunk happens when there’s an excessive amount of discharge and that’s called Epiphora. It can be anything from a thin, watery discharge to a thicker pus-like consistency. It can be a symptom of a larger problem.
There are several common causes of Epiphora:
- Allergies & Daily Environment Irritants
Dog’s live much closer to the ground that humans so inhale a larger amount of dust, pollen and other particles that their bodies may decide is harmful. An excess of any of these can lead to an overreaction in their tear ducts. Irritants include leaves, twigs and other debris that can get in the eye.
This is more commonly known as pink eye and it’s similar to what human’s experience. It’s an inflammation of the outer layer of the eye and inner layer of the eyelid. This results in the more pus-like discharge and is something that should be treated by a veterinarian.
- KCS – Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca
This is more commonly known as dry eye. It results in an uncomfortable and itchy eye that the dog continually irritates. The corners of the eyes may appear brown and may result in a yellow-green discharge. This can be a result of a variety of causes such as tear duct issues, allergies or side-effects from medication. A veterinarian should treat this, as it can lead to blindness.
There are two kinds of glaucoma in dogs: primary and secondary. In primary, the eye is unable to drain, which means the fluid backs up. The secondary is caused by trauma like inflammation or cancer. This can show up as cloudy eyes, along with the discharge. Some breeds are more predisposed to glaucoma than others. It’s also common in senior dogs.
So how do we know if the eye gunk we’re seeing is normal or something to worry about? Knowing our dogs will help. Some breeds, like toy poodles and flat-faced dogs, are more prone to eye gunk. If the color or smell changes, or if your dog suddenly paws at their eyes, it could be an indication of a larger problem. Basically, if it’s wetter, gunkier, gloopier or stinkier than normal, then it’s time to see the vet.
There are some things you can do to help dogs with Epiphora. Keeping their face trimmed is a must. The less hair there is around the eyes, the less chance there is that a hair in the eye causes more tears than necessary. Not to mention shorter fur means less space for the gunk to get into and turn crusty. Be careful of the shampoos and medications used around those eyes too, as some can hurt the eyes just as much as the initial irritant. There are commercial dog wipes that can be used, but a damp cloth works just as well.
I own a toy poodle, Pippin, who has constant eye gunk. I’m fortunate that he has black fur, so the stains are disguised. But I still have to frequently wash his face to clear the fur of the wet tears otherwise it turns into crusty, stinky gunk. According to my vet, there is nothing to worry about in his case. He’s just one of those breeds who is always going to have weepy eyes.
As soon as I returned from the Foundation level massage workshop, I began massaging Pippin and I paid extra attention to the areas around his eyes. My hope was that with regular massage, those sinuses, tear ducts and weepy eyes of his could get some relief. As of the writing of this paper, Pippin has had five massages. In each, I paid extra attention to his face, in particular massaging all around the ocular orbit, including under the eye and all around the muzzle. I used small circular motions beginning at the corner of the eyes and moving around the bony structure of the eye. I also placed my finger directly over the eyes (with his eye closed) and very gently pressed to help relax and rejuvenate the eyes. And it has made a difference. In the past, Pippin would have eye gunk every day that would get crusty and stinky if not washed. Since the massages have begun, the eye gunk has diminished. He currently still gets the gunk, but the amount of it has decreased.
Regular pet massage is a great way to keep eye gunk, a normal but unpleasant aspect of our dogs, under control. A gunky, crusty, gloopy-free dog makes for a happier and healthier dog.
Grounds for exercises in intuition.
As I was taking my morning coffee I noticed a tiny chunk of grit on my tongue. I looked down at my cup; there on the bottom was a smattering of coffee grounds. I grind whole beans before brewing, and when I dump the grounds into the filter not all of them always fall in. There’s usually a few scattered on the counter. Sometimes a few mavericks drop into the carafe. I looked at the dark brown crumbles and mused, “Maybe there is some sort of spiritual message here I’m supposed to understand.”
Many years ago I had a “coffee ground reading” by an ancient Rumanian grandma. It was a ritual. I drank the espresso, flipped the cup upside down, rotated it 3 times, and waited several minutes until the grounds were dry. She tapped it, turned it over, and looked intently at the remaining pattern. I had asked Grandma if she looked for specific patterns that were symbols. You know, like hearts, daggers, ships, or animals. Her accent was thick; but what I think she told me was no. She simply opened herself to whatever thoughts expressed themselves. “Like anything,” she inferred, “you get better with practice because you develop the muscles for opening your mind to the spirit of your intuition.”
I stared at the grounds in my mug, waiting for some sort of message to come through. If I really pushed my imagination to connect the dots I could barely make out a person on the right edge of the pattern with one leg bent inward. Oh, there was a smattering of random shapes behind him. I thought of how we are constantly shedding dead skin leaving a trail of ourselves as we move about. We leave a wake of our scents, aromas, and relationships. Then I saw them as crystal orbs. Then a mist. Then memories. Then thoughts. Then spirit helpers. Then my coffee cup person turned his head around to face them and they became choices. Lots of solid opportunities.
It was an exercise in creativity, like identifying forms in clouds. A fish with a horse’s head morphs into an ice cream cone, and then when you look back, another cloud has drifted under it and it’s a chicken. This is not just fun. It’s part of a rigorous training program. I tell you this: cloud-work is an exhausting workout! I’ve been known to fall asleep while doing it.
I turned my mug to be able to see the pattern from a different angle. The tablespoon of coffee that was still in there swirled across and suddenly I had a new pattern I could attempt to understand.
Interpretations of patterns are all contextual. What we see is a reflection of what we want to see. Or, what we know to see. What we can see. The grounds did not bring up references to rain, hail, or dangerous obstacles. They could have; but these aren’t what I think about. My touchstones are life in its fullness with expansive energy and possibility. These are what I know for you.
It’s the same with PetMassage. During each session
- I observe.
- I define to myself what I think I sense.
- I open myself to whatever inner interpretation I can conjure.
- Then I move my hands to approach it from a different angle and get an entirely new set of observations.
I sense movement or texture with my hands. I interpret it from my experience. Then I look with my imagination. I then check my work by approaching from another direction. Often I see movement or shifting texture with my hands. Then I follow it just to see where it’s going. I like to make sure it gets home safe. I am the body’s guide and witness.
Each touch is an opportunity to share and influence a brief portion of the dog’s journey. The dog is there so you can facilitate a course correction.
We process our interpretations in our bodies physical. In our gut and throughout our nervous system. Dogs smell what we imagine in our breath and skin. Let’s open ourselves to the possibility of sensing our dogs perfect health and harmony. These are what we need to know for them.
We can exercise our intuitive muscles and enhance the depth of our understanding and guidance. We don’t have to flip the dog over and spin him around 3 times to exercise our psychic muscles. Sit and stay … completely present and available … body, mind, and spirit … with your dog during his massage.
Full Title: The Plastic Puppy: Breaking the Puppy Mill Cycle with Touch and Patience
Author: Lorraine d. Achey, LMT
Date of Publication: December 19, 2019
Research Paper Text:
The Plastic Puppy: Breaking the Puppy Mill Cycle with Touch and Patience
Lorraine D. Achey, LMT
December 19, 2018
Statement of Problem:
Puppies who grow up in a puppy mill environment and are removed from their mother and pack mates too early can develop a host of behavioral and health problems. Can these puppies and young dogs be adapted to normal life with the help of obedience training and canine massage? How long does neural plasticity last for dogs?
Limitations of Study
There is little to no research studies about the following:
- Effects of removing puppies from their mother and pack members before the age of the optimum time of 8-12 weeks
- How effective obedience training is when used without previous socialized puppies?
- How can a remedial socialization program be developed that works for most puppies?
- What can pet parents expect to accomplish by using touch techniques to create new behaviors?
Since this is a unmined area, I will present my experiences in rescuing a mill dog. Information on resources will appear as a bibliography and a list of useful links.
The Plastic Puppy:
Breaking the Puppy Mill Cycle with Touch and Patience
How many of us know that most puppies purchased in pet stores or online are the result of a puppy mill environment?
In the United States alone, there are over 10,000 puppy mills which produce an annual 4 million puppies. Sadly, the amount of dogs that are destroyed because of overpopulation is also around 4 million.
Puppy mills exist for only one reason: to produce as many viable puppies as possible for sale. A breeder often does not consider the health or comfort of the puppy producing females, starting them into the breeding cycle as early as 6 months old and breeding them every cycle (2 times a year) until they are worn out or too sick to produce any more puppies. Crowded into small crates or wire pens, their food and water is often dirty and moldy. Feces and urine pile up in or under the crates, forcing the dogs to live in constant filth and leads to health problems. Prenatal care is minimal, if non-existent.
Worst of all, since most puppies will sell more quickly and easily when they are still very young and cute, puppy mill puppies are often removed from their mothers as early as 5-6 weeks. According to research, the ultimate age for a puppy going home is 7 weeks. While those 7 days seem insignificant, in truth they are instrumental in the development of the puppy into a mature and healthy dog.
A puppy’s brain reaches the final stages of development at 5-8 weeks. During this time, it is crucial that the puppy be held and cuddled, introduced to other animals and people, allowed to explore, and have many stimulating toys and things to do. Stressful situations should be avoided. In other words, the puppy needs a calm place to play and become socialized.
Remember that 6-month-old bitch that started having puppies as soon as she can, without this type of puppyhood? How well do you think she will do as a new mother? Would she be able to teach her puppies what they need to develop strong neural connections and confidence, leading to happy, healthy, and responsive dogs? Or is it more likely the puppies removed too early and under very stressful situations will become problem dogs when their socialization process is interrupted?
Boredom, lack of exercise and sunlight, and the exposure to barking and stressed dogs creates an environment that leads to repetitive spinning and other compulsive behaviors. Such an environment can create an anxious, tense, and depressed dog. Add all of this to being removed from their mothers early, and you can see that a puppy can start life with quite a handicap.
Behaviors and Health problems related to early removal of a puppy from his mother before 12 weeks include:
- Reactivity (startles easily, etc.)
- Social impoverishment
- Potty training problems
- Intestinal and external parasites
- Lack of bite inhibition (learning when to bite, how hard to bite)
- Lack of tolerance to tactile contact, poor attachment skills
It all sounds like your new puppy could turn out to be quite the troublemaker. But, there’s hope!
First, do your best to take your dog to as many different places as you can to make friends, both canine and human. Handle your puppy often and let others handle them, too.
Second, if you don’t already have a well socialized dog in your home, find someone with a well-adjusted dog who will agree to spend time with you and your dog. Supervise the dogs as they get to know one another. The older dog may well take the pup under his wing and teach him the behavior the pup will need to learn how to be a dog.
Third, get your dog into a good obedience class as soon as possible. Time is of the essence to help your dog catch up in his development and to avoid any problems with aggression. Make sure your trainer helps you teach your dog to love his crate and his time in it. It can literally save his life.
These three actions may very well prevent most problems for the new puppy. However, if the puppy is older than 8-12 weeks, you now have more than twice the work to give your puppy a healthy, stable outlook on life.
If you are starting with an older puppy, a rescued mill dog, or a rescued stray, there is still much you can do to help your dog learn new behavior. It will take patience and troubleshooting, but it will be worth it. Be patient and kind. Remember that your dog is acting on the information he has had in the past. It’s up to you to help him discover how to behave appropriately.
Talk to you dog often. While he may not understand what you’re saying, he recognizes your tone and body cues. Especially if your dog is timid and frightened, a soothing voice will help calm him.
Get down to her level and talk to her. Let her come to you. If she is reluctant to come to you, try offering a high value treat to her on the floor near you. Praise her for taking the treat, even if she is a few feet from you. You can bring her closer and closer, rewarding her with treats. At this point, don’t try to touch her unless she initiates it. Don’t insist that she stay if she decides it’s too early to trust you. Take your time.
When your dog is feeling confident about how you treat him, try stroking his chest. Use the back of your hands and fingers to start, it’s a less invasive touch. Especially if this is a small timid dog, DO NOT pet him on his head. (Think about how big and threatening your hand and fingers can look to a small dog face and eyes.) Instead, move slowly into the dog’s space from the side, and stroke the chest under the collar. This is an excellent point for creating calmness. If you are concerned about the dog biting, try starting with the shoulder instead. Always be proactive, and be mindful of your surroundings, including any body language cues.
These are the basics. If your dog needs more, continue to work patiently with her while you do some reading and studying about dog behavior.
I suggest that you start with Linda Tellington-Jones’ excellent book, Getting in TTouch with Your Dog. It has clear and concise directions on how to best utilize her techniques, as well as suggested moves for various issues your dog may have. While this modality is touch based, it is not massage per se. It concentrates on the moving the skin touches with a “quarter and a half” circle. It is a light pressure touch, very soothing and calming.
I have been using TTouch with excellent results for the past 25+ years, including rehabilitating a 5-year-old Papillon. Allie started her life with us after being rescued from either a puppy mill or a hoarding situation. She rarely blinked the first few weeks she came to us; and holding her was like handling a bundle of sticks wrapped in dried leather. I could not work with her at all unless I wrapped her in a tea towel first, so I didn’t touch her fur. She didn’t play, she didn’t bark, she would not eat or drink in front of me or the other dogs for her first year. Her favorite hiding place was usually the smallest spot she could find to squeeze herself into. I started working with her, first for about 5 minutes. Over time, I added more time and number of sessions into her schedule.
As a student of anatomy, I was always learning new things about how our bodies worked. I read an article on how scientists found a link from the vagus nerve to the vestibular nerve. Turns out that stimulating one influences the other, leading to calming (vagus) and balancing (vestibular) the mind and body. When I first read the article, I thought, “That might work for Allie.” Especially since Allie had come to us with a severe ear infection and a growth in her ear canal (successfully removed), I was curious as to how this information could help her heal. I’d already been rocking her, so I thought I’d keep on with it and watch what happened. Allie and I established a routine. Every evening, I would take her into the living room, wrap her in a soft quilt, and rock her. For 30 to 45 minutes, she would snuggle in my arms. At first, she just drowsed until she wanted to get up. But slowly, she began to relax and make eye contact, even decided she could let me pet her on her fur under her blanket.
But the day she fell so deeply asleep in my arms that she snored, mouth gaping, I knew we had stumbled onto an effective way of assisting Allie.
Other benefits were noticed: no more reverse sneezing, brighter eyes, stronger confidence and curiosity, and generally a more relaxed condition.
While this experiment is more in the realm of anecdotal information, not scientific fact, I feel confident from my experiences that touch–regular, gentle, and loving touch–offers to lay people an effective way to improve their animals’ behavior and lives. It’s non-invasive, inexpensive, easy to do, and it brings pleasure to both the person and the animal. Because of this experience with Allie and other experience with other dogs, I became aware that like humans, the brains of dog and other animals showed signs of neural plasticity. While I don’t profess to be a neuroscientist, I do believe in the ability to create new neural paths that can change how people and animals think and behave. I’m hoping that there are researchers out there studying this, and that one day we will know how to help both people and animals change their lives for the better.
I encourage you to read Temple Grandin’s book, Animals in Translation. I got lucky and read this book before Allie came into my life. It was the best training I could of have for helping her and other rescued dogs. From Ms. Grandin’s work, I was able to learn how to decode what Allie reacted to and come up with a viable solution to help her. This has become one of my best tools for helping dogs lead more happy and confident lives. I also highly recommend any other of Ms. Grandin’s books, especially her Animals Make Us Human.
Getting in TTouch with your Dog by Linda Tellington-Jones
The Tellington Touch, Caring for Animals with Heart and Hands. Linda Tellington-Jones with Sybil Taylor published by Penguin Books. 1992.
Full Title: Piriformis Syndrome in Canines
Author: Tammy Callahan
Date of Publication: April 12, 2019
Research Paper Text:
Piriformis Syndrome in Canines
April 12, 2019
The piriformis muscle is located in the pelvic region. It is a small muscle completely covered by the gluteus superficialis muscle. The piriformis muscle arises on the third sacral and first caudal vertebrae. It inserts on the same site as the tendon from the gluteus medias at the greater trochanter of the femur. It is innervated by the first and second sacral nerves.
The purpose of the piriformis muscle is for the extension of the hip joint.
Piriformis syndrome can be a debilitating issue and was not diagnosed until recently in canines.
Most dogs are diagnosed with dysplasia or possibly nerve damage and piriformis syndrome was never really thought of in dogs until recently. Maja Guldberg, DVM, did a study on a dog named Iris. When the study was started, there was little to no information about the piriformis to find. Since the pelvis region on dogs is similar to humans this vet started with what is available regarding this syndrome in humans. After many tests were done to rule out other possibilities in Iris, they came to a preliminary conclusion that it was probably a sciatica issue. The overall cause of Iris’ sciatica was constriction of the piriformis muscle causing entrapment of the sciatica nerve. The study did conclude that sciatica and piriformis syndrome does exist in dogs and this was causing lameness and pain for Iris.
Piriformis Syndrome is described as an abnormal condition of the piriformis muscle. Characteristics and signs are due to the entrapment of the sciatic nerve at the greater sciatic notch resulting in spasm, edema and contracture of the muscle causing compression, (entrapment), of the sciatic nerve.
In a flexed position, the piriformis muscle internally rotates and abducts the hip. In the neutral position, the piriformis muscle acts as an external rotator for the hip.
There is no information regarding the piriformis syndrome being breed pacific that I could find. Possibly, now that there is more being done with canines regarding piriformis syndrome, they may find that diagnosis of hip dysplasia could be sciatica/piriformis related in some cases. And possibly more relevant to larger breeds.
In regards to relief from piriformis syndrome. Stretches originally intended for humans were adapted for use on canines. Along with chiropractic adjustments in addition to the adapted stretches and the use of acupuncture it was concluded that dogs can possibly be offered relief from piriformis syndrome and sciatic pain and issues. Massage could also be a form of relief for the piriformis as well, however with the piriformis being completely covered by other muscles and “buried” within the region, it can prove to be difficult to get to with hands/fingers . These modalities offered relief and a more normal lifestyle for Iris. So in conclusion, it worked.
In humans, piriformis syndrome can be very painful and debilitating. It causes lower back pain, hip pain, leg pain and knee pain. Anywhere from a dull ache to shooting pains throughout the lower back, hip, leg and knees is possible. Chiropractic adjustments can possibly help to realign certain areas and offer relief of pressure on the piriformis. The use of heat and ice, certain exercises, walking and stretching can offer relief as well.
There was not a lot of information available on this topic. However, it seems with the realization that massage, acupressure, acupuncture and chiropractic adjustment it has been found that these modalities can offer relief from pain and it is now more than ever accepted as a useful tool in offering relief as opposed to the use of medications, surgeries and possibly euthanasia as a final decision.
I believe that more and more people are using alternative therapies to create a better lifestyle for themselves and their pets.
Information for this paper was obtained online from a study done by Maja Guldberg, DVM. As well as an informational paper found online that was created for students attending the school of Ojai School of canine massage.
The Benefits of Hydrotherapy was the topic this week on Dr Karen Becker’s blog on the Healthy Pets Mercola website. https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2019/04/11/pet-hydrotherapy.aspx
Karen discusses aquatic therapy from the perspective of her holistic veterinary practice. Her subtitle: Soothes Sore Joints and Muscles, a Godsend for Injured or Obese Pets. I’d like to add my perspective to her presentation; coming from a practitioner and instructor of canine aquatic massage.
Most dogs are buoyant. That’s the first benefit we think about. Movements they may have been straining to perform suddenly become easier. It becomes a non-weight bearing activity.
There’s a big difference between the underwater treadmill experience and canine aquatic massage. Think of comparing a workout session with your personal trainer at the gym and a massage. The treadmill work is like supervised repetitive exercise on equipment. The two are very different processes. Their approaches to working on the dog’s body is different. PetMassage canine aquatic massage facilitates dogs rediscovery of balance and harmony.
Consider what happens when you combine the life-affirming characteristics of dry canine massage with water. Water becomes more than an environment. It’s a support system. It’s a bubble of nurture in a disinterested environment.
Besides its buoyancy and wetness, another significant attribute of water, is its temperature. The water temperature that we work in is around 83 degrees. It’s pleasant.
During their canine aquatic massage dogs develop strength, stamina, balance, and confidence. They are guided through the motions of swimming and treading water which provides their mild cardio workouts. Guided into their controlled floats and glides, they sink and paddle, stretch and join up, twist and straighten, and emotionally and energetically, realign. They are getting massage!
The water’s warmth stimulates dogs beyond their body physical. As we move them through the water, we the WaterWork Practitioners, maintain constant physical and emotional contact with the them. We direct them, encourage them, and challenge them. We can feel their cognitive and emotional shifts. We actively participate while dogs optimize their lives.
Every session is life affirming, validating, and joyous. We are in the water with the dogs, observing and moving with their every move. The joy we feel is like a contact high. Let me rephrase this because it’s important: every session with every dog is genuinely ecstatic. Compare that to any other type of job description!
Who are your clients? Think about the dogs who have been restricted while waiting for their injuries to heal. How about the dogs that are obese, or arthritic? How about the apartment bound dogs whose owners do not take them out to get sufficient exercise? How about the agility dogs who come up lame or need a venue for off season conditioning? Canine aquatic massage helps dogs with confidence issues, behavioral issues, structural issues and flexibility issues. Then, there are senior dogs whose metabolisms are slowing. Imagine how, with just the gentle stimulation by the waves in the pool, lymphatic flow and peristalsis in the gut is supported.
Is this complementary to treadmill therapy? Yes, you bet! Treadmill work is straight forward. Massage is circular. Combine them. Ally your practice with rehabilitation veterinarians they will refer their patients to you.
Training and Certification
The PetMassage Training and Research Institute offers a training program for you to learn canine aquatic massage. The complete program includes a home study module in Basic Canine Anatomy so you can better visualize how the dog’s body ought to move and function. The on-site, hands-on 6-day workshop is training that’s as enjoyable and rewarding as your new career will be.
This is vocational training. You are training to create your own:
- rehabilitation facility for injured dogs, working with veterinarians
- body toning and wellness maintenance workout facility for canine athletes
- gentle cardio program for older, and in-hospice dogs
- program for maintaining strength and support for partially paralyzed dogs
- weight loss programs for dogs
- soothing, emotional relaxing session for grieving and traumatized dogs
We call it WaterWork not because we work in the water; rather, because we rely on the water to do much of the “work.”
In PetMassage WaterWork workshops you will learn specific hands-on techniques, protocols, and sequences. You’ll learn controlled floating, myofascial releases, water stretching based on the mechanics of canine anatomy, and aquatic massage skills with dogs on a submerged platform.
You’ll learn about dog handling, gait observation, water, pools, pool selection, filtration, installation and maintenance, legal restrictions, developing a business, and marketing.
By the completion of the workshop you are trained in what you need to know to support and complement both the rehabilitation work of veterinarians and the strength and conditioning demanded by dog caregivers and sport dog enthusiasts. You will be ready to start your business and help dogs.
Here’s a Link [https://youtu.be/c2Kbpp_5j_8] to a video that demonstrates how this therapeutic session is done as a dance. While it may not be obvious, this dog is getting everything he needs and fun besides. Just look at his face! As the Practitioner, I’m having the time of my life, too.
The PetMassage approach is effective, holistic, spiritual, and flat out fun. PetMassage WaterWork, Canine Aquatic Massage, is a most enjoyable and rewarding form of canine massage.
Is this the career you’ve been searching for?
Here it is! Join us in the next PetMassage WaterWork workshop. https://petmassage.com/canine-aquatic-massage-petmassage-waterwork-programs-1-and-2/