Massage Therapy for People
Massage Therapy involves the assessment and hands-on treatment of the muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissues of the body by a professional Registered Massage Therapist. Registered Massage Therapists are regulated health care providers who have completed 2-3 years of study at an accredited massage therapy school, successfully completed provincial licensing examinations and are active members of the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario. Benefits of massage therapy include:
- Pain relief
- Reduced muscular tension
- Stress reduction
- Improved joint mobility and flexibility
- More restorative sleep
- Enhanced circulation
- Lymphatic drainage
Some conditions that benefit from massage therapy include:
- Neck/Back Pain
- Muscle spasm/tension
- Jaw Pain
- Anxiety and depression
Massage Therapy for Dogs
Similar to people, our dogs can experience muscular pain, stiffness and mobility issues related to muscular tension and poor flexibility. Certified Canine Massage Therapists use their hands to help improve muscle and joint function by relieving tension, reducing muscular spasm and promoting healthy pain free range of motion. Whether your dog is an agility athlete or a senior dog struggling to get around the house, massage therapy can be a fabulous complimentary therapy to optimize their quality of life.
Some indications your dog may benefit from massage therapy include:
- Difficulty getting up or using the stairs
- Weakness/shaking of a limb
- Anxious behaviour
- Sensitivity to being touched
- Changes in behaviour
- Performance issues
- Stiffness upon rising
No! Just like how massaging a human isn’t just rubbing lotion on a person, canine massage therapy has specific intentions and goals based on an assessment. These myofascial issues are then discussed with to the owner and addressed using bth massage techniques and specific stretch therapy.
Michelle is a Registered Massage Therapist for people and has also completed an additional 18-month certification course to become a Certified Canine Massage Therapist. The course was similar to the accredited massage therapy education she received and covered the anatomy and physiology of dogs, assessments, techniques, and treatment plans for specific conditions and breeds. After completing 40 case studies she received her diploma in Canine Massage Therapy.
As with people, massage therapy may help your dog by improving the circulation of blood and lymph, pain relief, reducing muscle tension, and promoting general wellness and relaxation. I observe the assessments, imaging, and diagnosis provided by your dog’s vet or chiropractor in order to make a treatment plan that is complementary to their existing care.
60 minutes is the reserved time for your dog’s initial appointment just because I need to go through your dog’s health history with you, ask about your goals, do an assessment, then do your dog’s first massage treatment. Sometimes the full 60 minutes is needed, and sometimes it isn’t. Reasons why the full 60 minutes will not be needed are either the condition is too acute (new and painful) for a long massage, or your dog is telling me that they’re done and showing me signs of stress.
Stress is normal in the initial appointment. Some dogs don’t warm up to new people that quickly and I’m a new person to them. Your dog doesn’t know me and may not have had enough time to smell and observe me to fully trust me yet. On top of that, I’m touching places on their body that they know are painful and they aren’t sure what my intentions are. Before I decide to stop a massage, I will give your dog time to smell me, move around freely so they don’t feel stuck, go to you for reassurance, give treats, then go back to massaging them if they let me. If they continue to show signs of stress, I will stop the treatment and recommend a follow-up 30-minute treatment in about a week to try again. Most dogs are more at ease by the second treatment. Sometimes bringing a toy from home helps!
Of course! A lot of my canine clients are sort of like my human clients under 5 years old – they can’t be still for too long! So just like with kids, I go with the flow of how they want to be. If they want to lie on the dog bed, great! If they want to just sit in the waiting room next to the water bowl, no sweat! If they want to get up and wander around for a bit (maybe searching for the treat jar), no worries, I’ll just follow them and watch for asymmetry and gait patterns as they explore then work on muscles that I suspect need attention once they stop. It’s not a problem for me at all.
It isn’t within my scope of practice to state whether canine massage therapy can cure or prevent anything.
I can say that all of my treatment plans for hip dysplasia here at The Dog Joint consider the previous reports, charting, and recommendations from the dog’s vet and Dr. Carruthers/Dr. Landry. The massage treatment usually includes a focus on the tension and soreness in the muscles of compensation, such as the forelimbs, back, neck, and shoulders.
Some pet insurance covers canine massage therapy under holistic or rehabilitative care.