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From Pain to Comfort: Canine Massage Therapy Improves Harry's Quality of Life

Meet Harry, a leggy, 13-year-old, Labradoodle who is one of the most kind-natured and loving dog you will ever meet.

white labradoodle headshot

August 2022

After seeing my advert on a local Facebook group, Robin, the owner of Harry, reached out to me. He was worried about Harry's well-being, as he seemed to be experiencing pain and discomfort. Harry was stiff and had difficulty walking, often becoming shaky when playing with other dogs. He had trouble getting up after resting and occasionally let out a small grumble when lying down. Harry also had granulomas (sores) on his paws where he had been excessively licking. Robin had already tried a course of Loxicom prescribed by his veterinarian but was now seeking an expert opinion on alternative treatments.

Harry’s First consultation

Upon meeting Harry, it was clear to see that he was struggling with his mobility. His walk looked stiff, slow and heavy. He had a low head carriage and literally looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. Harry also had muscle atrophy (wastage) of the hind-limbs. Robin’s concern for Harry was palpable.

As part of my standard practice, when meeting a dog for the first time I always perform an initial assessment of their superficial muscles to evaluate the condition of the soft tissues. During my examination it was evident that Harry had difficulty accepting even a gentle palpation, which led me to conclude that he was suffering with wide radiating myofascial pain.

White labradoodle lying down

What is Wide radiating Myofasical pain?

(To skill the science bit click here)

It is time to unlearn what you were taught in school! Back in the day, you were taught that the body is comprised of distinct systems such as the skeletal, muscular and digestive systems. You were also taught that the skeleton provides a framework for all other systems to function, with muscles attaching to bone to create movement and vital organs housed within the ribcage and skull for protection.

But what if I told you that there was another system at play? A system that begins to form when the embryo is barely 2-3 weeks old. A system in which all other systems are poured into. Would you believe me?

In order to comprehend the nature of fascia and its role in the body, it's crucial to adopt a different perspective on how the body operates.

Fascia is a strong, flexible, yet thin, connective tissue that forms a continuous three-dimensional web throughout the body. It weaves its way throughout the dog’s entire body, enveloping and separating each and every component including individual cells, muscle fibres, nerves, blood vessels, tissues, tendons and ligaments. Additionally, it encases and supports the muscles, bones and organs of the body.

Fascia a strong, flexible, yet thin, connective tissue

Healthy fascia is well hydrated and relaxed. It can stretch and move without restriction and is free to ‘slide and glide’. It can support the function and mobility of your dog’s entire body. However, if fascia becomes damaged due to injury, inflammation and chronic tension the fascia becomes dehydrated causing the fibres to shorten, thicken, and stick together.

The fascia becomes hard and gel-like!

Dysfunctional fascia compress capillaries and nerves. This creates patterns of tension, stiffness and pain that becomes locked into the fascial network of the body. This is known as Myofasical pain.

Referring back to the vet

Understandably, Harry felt very uncomfortable during his first massage treatment. Fortunately, Robin was there to provide comfort and reassurance to Harry while I made sure to empathise with his limitations. Throughout the 1st treatment, Harry kept licking his lick granulomas. This obsessive urge to lick could be a symptom of joint pain, so I advised Robin to consult with Harry’s veterinarian for treatment and advice.

Massage Treatments

Following the visit to the veterinarian, Harry was prescribed cream and antibiotics to address his lick granulomas. Additionally, he was started on a monthly course of Librela injections to manage his pain. Harry was also sporting some very snazzy stripy socks to help prevent him licking his sores. This meant he was a lot more comfortable during his 2nd and 3rd treatments. Harry even dozed off a couple of times which allowed me to use my skills as a canine massage therapist to successfully loosen and free up large sheaths of fascia.

White labradoodle on the sofa with stripy sock

Results of 3 initial treatments

After 3 treatments Robin stated…

Harry has vastly improved movement, he no longer grumbles when lying down. He appears more comfortable, has perked up in general and is enjoying his daily walks.

white labradoodle with red stripy socks

Harry’s Massage Journey continues

Robin was so pleased with how Harry responded to canine massage therapy that Harry has continued to receive monthly maintenance massages ever since.

Jess is very professional and friendly. Harry warmed to her quickly and as he started to get to know Jess and I left them to it.

Harry's overall comfort levels have significantly improved and he is so relaxed during his massage sessions that he often falls asleep. Harry has to be woken up so I can roll him over and treat the other side. It is refreshing as a canine massage therapist to have these moments of calmness and stillness.

Robin is delighted to report…

Harry has more energy and flexibility, and seems to be able to cope with old age much better. He is a happier dog and that makes me happy.

closeup headshot of white labradoodle

There can be no doubt that with the application of specific techniques and releases canine massage therapy has been successful in managing Harry’s chronic pain and has improved Harry’s mobility and quality of life. Thank you, Robin, for entrusting me to treat Harry with canine massage therapy.

Robin's testimonial:

I would highly recommend Jess and Forest Canine Massage to anyone who feels their dog may be in pain or is suffering from restricted mobility or lack of movement.
Thank you so much for helping Harry!

If you think your dog is suffering and in pain, get in-touch today to see how canine massage therapy can help!

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