Introducing Tally, a beautiful and loyal, 13-year-old, Golden Retriever.
How Tally’s Massage Journey Started
I was contacted by Tally’s owner Kathy, nearly a year ago after being recommended by Lornik Hydrotherapy. Kathy had noticed Tally was looking ‘stiff’ and was slowing down on walks. She was reluctant to get into the car and onto the sofa. Tally constantly needed to wear a harness, so Kathy was able to support her when she was struggling to get around.
Now you might think! Tally is an elderly dog! All dogs age! It is inevitable she is going to become stiff! However, Kathy was keen to help Tally live a more mobile and pain-free life as possible. Unfortunately, a trial of Librela (a monthly injection used to alleviate pain associated with osteoarthritis) and subsequently Loxicom (oral medicine used to relieve inflammation and pain for chronic musculoskeletal disorders) from the local Veterinarian had been unsuccessful so Kathy started looking around for alternative treatments.
“Before treatment Tally frequently looked stiff on movement and walked/trotted with her hind limbs splayed (I call it ‘wet knickers’ but I’m sure there’s a proper name!). She had stopped ever going faster than a trot. I had an open mind as to whether we would see any difference but felt it wouldn’t hurt to try canine massage as friends had had this for their dogs and felt there had been an improvement in mobility.”
I met Kathy and Tally on 22nd March 2022. We settled down in the front room where I began Tally’s first consultation. After an initial chat I conducted a gait & postural analysis and full palpation (assessment of soft tissue). I noted the following findings.
Wide stance of hindlimbs when stood
Weakness, muscle soreness and reduced range of motion in the hindlimbs
Sway to hips when walking
Discomfort and hypertonicity (too much resting tone) in the lower back and Gluteals.
Tenderness and grade 2 strains along the length of the back
Myofasical restrictions and discomfort across the ribcage
Multiple trigger points behind the shoulders
Well-developed muscles of the shoulders
Reduced range of motion of the left forelimb
Hypertonic, and adhered tissues in the neck.
In layman’s terms this meant that Tally was in pain and discomfort. From my findings I concluded that the primary area of concern was Tally’s hind-limbs due to possible boney changes in her hip joints.
When there is an issue with a joint dogs will try to off load their weight. i.e. an issue with the right hindlimb causes the left forelimb to overwork/ take the load. This is known as over-compensation, some muscles will be used more and become stronger, and others will be used less and become weaker. In Tally’s case she had weakness in her hindlimbs and strength in her shoulders.
Even though Tally settled well for her treatments she gave clear signs when she was uncomfortable. This usually involved a dirty look and a curl of the lip. Although this might seem comical, dogs are allowed to say “Ouch! Go easy!” and as a result I adapted my treatment and techniques accordingly.
“Tally doesn’t love her massages, and gives clear signals when things are uncomfortable. Jess has been brilliant, handled Tally very sympathetically at all times. Clear after care instructions were given.”
After Care Advice
Alongside canine massage therapy, I give Kathy after care advice to aid Tally’s recovery and to prevent injury and deterioration. Lornik Hydrotherapy had already given sound advice about putting rugs/mats down on slippery floors which was helping Tally move around the house more easily.
I gave advice about,
Rest after treatments
Warmups before a walk
Length of walks and terrain
The use of heat packs
The importance of keeping the body warm especially on cold winter days
Massage techniques to use at home
Kathy was very proactive in listening to advice given which only helped aid Tally’s rehabilitation.
Results of 3 initial treatments
After Tally’s first treatment Kathy announced …
“Tally is definitely moving better I noticed improvement the very next day!”
After 3 treatments Kathy declared…
“Tally is moving so much better and looking much more comfortable. The ‘wet knickers’ walk has stopped, with Tally having a much more normal gait. She is wanting to jump up on the sofa.”
Also, at that time it was apparent that;
· Tally’s walk was balanced, and level and she was able to use the correct stride pattern
· She had improved range of motion of the hindlimbs
· Improved comfort and reduced hypertonicity in lower back and Gluteals.
· Myofascial restrictions across the ribcage had been released which improved comfort levels
· Tally’s left shoulder had been released which greatly improved her range of motion.
· Hypertonic, adhered tissues in the neck were resolved.
No wonder why Tally was feeling better and wanted to do more!
Tally’s Massage Journey continues
Kathy was so pleased with how Tally responded to canine massage therapy that she has continued to receive monthly maintenance massages alongside her monthly hydrotherapy sessions ever since. We have also implemented Primula cheese and lickimats into Tally’s massages sessions to ensure that she is as relaxed and as comfortable as possible.
Kathy is delighted to report…
“Tally continues to move better than she did before her initial massage a year ago, and even breaks into a canter on occasions which she had completely stopped doing. She still goes for a twice daily walk of up to 3 miles a day, which at nearly 14 I think is quite remarkable.”
There can be no doubt that with the application of specific techniques and releases canine massage therapy has been successful in managing Tally’s chronic pain and has improved Tally’s mobility, thus enabling her to live an active and happier life for longer. Thank you, Kathy, for entrusting me to treat Tally with canine massage therapy.