Tag Archives: massage

The notice at dog park

Flynn's death noticeI had seen Flynn at dog park a number of times before his owners asked for me to give him a relaxation massage.  Then I received an email several weeks later informing me that he had died suddenly.

His owners felt it was important to let everyone at dog park know of his passing.

Rest in peace, Flynn!

Those ‘Bambi’ falls…

I had a lovely email this evening from a new massage client.  She says ‘Ash was very happy after her treatment and has not had any bad falls (i.e. the ‘Bambi’ ones which are really bad for her hips.)’

You know what she means, right?  If not, here are a few examples:

Copyright Disney Studios

Copyright Disney Studios

Copyright Disney Studios

Copyright Disney Studios

Copyright Disney Studios

Copyright Disney Studios

Does your dog fall like Bambi?  Landing like Bambi when you are an older or mobility-challenged dog can really hurt.  Please take care!

Spa weekends

In my opinion, part of owning an older dog means ensuring you devote time to them for bonding, love, attention and care.

Daisy and I are just finishing a Spa Weekend.

Daisy’s spa weekend started on Friday with a regular acupuncture session.  Daisy gets acupuncture every 5 weeks:

Daisy is happy to lay still while Dr Susanne Anderson places her acupuncture needles

Daisy is happy to lay still while Dr Susanne Anderson places her acupuncture needles

On Saturday, it was then time for Daisy’s hydrotherapy session.  Daisy swims every fortnight (2 weeks) to keep her muscles strong and to keep range of motion in her hind legs:

Swim time

And today (Sunday), it was time for Daisy to enjoy a massage and laser treatment – lovingly delivered by me – her personal massage therapist and DoggyMom:

Massage time

The only thing that was missing from Daisy’s spa weekend was a bath.  But that’s because she had a bath last weekend!

How do you spend quality time with your elderly dog?

Does my dog have arthritis?

Fireplace photo

Arthritis is a common condition in older dogs.  At first, though, owners may not always realise when their dog is suffering.  That’s because dogs tend to hide discomfort and pain from their pack.

Signs that your dog may be suffering from arthritis include:

  • Difficulty sitting or standing
  • Sleeping more
  • Weight gain
  • Reluctance to jump, run, walk or climb stairs
  • Decreased interest in playing or engaging in activities
  • Being less alert
  • Favouring a limb
  • Changes in attitude or behaviour

One day in 2011, Daisy let me know something was wrong.  We were out walking and she slowed down and stopped and the look in her eyes was one of pain.  She had finally let me know that she wasn’t feeling herself.

A series of x-rays confirmed arthritis in her lumbosacral spine and left hip.

Since then, she has responded to rest, conventional treatments, hydrotherapy, and other complementary therapies including my massage and laser treatments.

Quality of life for an arthritis sufferer can be attained – once the owner is aware of the problem!

National Holistic Pet Day

Today, 30 August 2012, is National Holistic Pet Day.

This is the day to celebrate all of the ways we can care for the ‘whole’ dog – their physiological health and their mental health.

As a canine massage therapist, I’m naturally a supporter of holistic approaches because I help treat dogs with acupressure, laser and massage therapies.  I also help dogs with rehabilitation programmes, even measuring dogs for mobility carts when necessary.  I also like to use bach flower remedies.

Here are a few ways to celebrate National Holistic Pet Day:

  • Treat your dog to a massage
  • Take your dog to the local hydrotherapy pool for a fun swim
  • Walk your dog in the fresh air and enjoy each other’s company
  • Take advice on feeding biologically appropriate dog food to your dog
  • Brush your dog’s teeth (and keep it up!)
  • Take your dog to a homeopathic or holistic vet for a check up
  • Look in your cleaning cupboard and throw away all of those chemical cleaning products – buy natural based products as replacement or even learn to make your own cleaners using natural products like vinegar and baking soda

Whatever you do – enjoy National Holistic Pet Day together.  The best thing you can give your dog is your time.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

The cost of veterinary care

Last night on consumer television programme Fair Go, there was an item about the high cost of veterinary care in New Zealand.

The makers of the programme compared costs for common veterinary procedures in cats and dogs – thinks like dental cleanings and microchipping.  And for those of us working in the companion animal field, it came as no surprise that there can be a huge variability in costs.

I remember when I was studying pet nutrition, our first assignment included a question about the cost of the first year of a dog’s care.    We had to itemise all costs for  everything from food to flea treatments to veterinary care.  And like so many other living costs in New Zealand, our prices were higher.  That’s what happens when you live on comparatively small islands in the middle of the Pacific!  In fact, my tutor said that our costs were the highest of all others in the class from around the world.

However, the Fair Go programme basically advised viewers that the way to control their costs was to shop around.  While I agree with this point – to a point, there’s a lot more that you can do to keep the costs of your veterinary care –  and your dog’s overall care – reasonable.

And I’m also a big supporter of the adage – YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.  In every aspect of my dog’s care, I aim to purchase quality products and services. They may not be the cheapest – but I’m satisfied that they are the best.

In my opinion, you should:

  • Adopt a preventive healthcare approach first

As soon as your dog comes into your life, vow that you will do the best you can for them.  This means choosing high quality, nutritious foods (‘you are what you eat’) and giving your dog the right amount of exercise.  Ensure your dog doesn’t become overweight and clean their teeth.

For teeth cleaning, there’s the old-fashioned approach which includes giving dogs raw meaty bones.  There are also good dental chews on the market and toys like rope chews act as dental floss.  There’s also some very good toothbrushes and toothpaste you can buy because not all dogs get enough cleaning from the items that they chew.

  • Build a relationship with a vet

If you go all over town chasing the best price, no single veterinary practice will have a full picture of your dog’s health history.  Shop around and then try to stick with the same vet.  Be honest about your ability to pay and if the practice knows you, they will be in a better position to offer you a payment plan or a reduction in price. You probably won’t have that as an option if the veterinary practice has never seen you before!

If you are unhappy with any service that a veterinarian provides you (including cost) you should raise your concerns with the practice first to see what solutions are available.  Then, if you’re still not happy, go out and find yourself another vet that you can work with.

  • Complementary therapies for longevity and quality of life

Complementary therapies like my massage, acupressure and laser therapy practice have a role in keeping your dog healthy (and the vet bills down).   I  offer advice on rehabilitation and exercise programmes that can help reduce your dog’s dependence on pain medication, for example.  I’m an advocate for therapies such as hydrotherapy and acupuncture, both of which I use for my own, aging dog.

  • Shop online

There are many outlets where you can find pet products at a more reasonable price than a traditional pet store or veterinary practice.  These include sites like Trade Me, but also online pet pharmacy My VetI also source and sell products online through my company – Canine Catering and, because I’m a smaller operation with lower overheads, you will pay a lower price.

(In general, retail costs are higher because there are more costs for doing business.  They have shop assistants to pay, rent, and bills for heating, maintenance and electricity. )

I hope these tips give you a broader perspective on the costs of caring for your dog.  If we save money, we have more money to spend on our families which includes our pets!

The importance of pain management

Whenever I take on a new client, I use a health questionnaire that covers current conditions as well as the dog’s health history.  One of the issues I address is any recent changes to the dog’s behaviour or living conditions.

What I am trying to ascertain is if a dog is in pain or having adjustment difficulties. There is a clear link between pain and aggression and this has been supported in a recent study by researchers at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain.

In the Spanish study, which has been published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 12 dogs that were brought in by their owners for ‘aggression problems’ were studied.  All were found to have pain-induced aggression with eight diagnosed as having hip dysplasia.

The breeds in the study were:  a Giant Schnauzer, Irish Setter, Pit Bull, Dalmatian, two German shepherds, Neapolitan Mastiff, Shih-tzu, Bobtail, Catalan Sheepdog, Chow Chow and Doberman.

The researchers concluded “if the pet is handled when in pain, it will quickly act aggressively to avoid more discomfort without the owner being able to prevent it.”

So, when a dog is behaving differently or is “out-of-sorts”, a visit to the vet is recommended.  Behaviour changes can be the first indicator that something is wrong and your vet can help to run appropriate tests to see if there is an underlying health problem.

Dogs have a way of not telling us they are in pain until a problem is more pronounced because their natural instinct is to protect themselves by not exhibiting any noticeable vulnerabilities.  Therapies such as massage and low level laser (which I employ in my canine rehabilitation practice) are useful in helping to manage pain through appropriate stimulation of acupressure points and managing muscle, tendon and ligament condition.  I’m also a strong supporter of acupuncture and refer clients to a local vet who is trained in veterinary acupuncture.

These complementary therapies can be employed alongside traditional pain medications such as NSAIDs to support your dog’s quality of life.  When pain is managed, quality of life improves for everyone in the household.

Source:  Plataforma SINC. “If your dog is aggressive, maybe it is in pain.” ScienceDaily, 13 Jun. 2012. Web. 15 Jun. 2012.

The Beagle

Since I have Beagles in my massage practice, I thought it would be useful to profile this medium-sized breed.

Teddy

Beagles regularly feature on the most popular breed list in the United States.    Using American Kennel Club registrations from 2011, the Beagle is the third most popular dog.

The Beagle originated in the United Kingdom where they were used as hunting dogs for rabbits and other prey animals because of their keen sense of smell and ability to track.  As a pet, owners have to watch their Beagle because he/she will easily follow its nose to track interesting smells – potentially wandering far from home.

Beagles are classified as being tri-colour (black, white and tan) or lemon (yellow) and sometimes even red or white.  An average life span is 15 years.

This breed is prone to hip dysplasia, intervertebral disc disease, and allergies.  Some develop seizure disorders and hypothyroidism.  Regular ear cleaning is recommended because their long, floppy ears (which are very appealing) help to create an ideal environment to hold moisture and bacteria in the ear canal.

The Beagle is a hound and can be extremely vocal, so good training is needed.  Beagles are also known for their appetites and so to keep the weight off, a balanced and healthy diet is needed with careful attention paid to how much the dog is eating during the day (treats, ‘finds’ on walks, etc.)  Plenty of exercise is also needed.

Owners of Beagles tell me that since they were bred as pack dogs (for hunting), they don’t do well as a solo dog in a household.  They need companionship and can become depressed if left alone for long periods of time.  (This depression can lead to problem barking problems, too.)

Beagles are often spotted at airports, cruise ship terminals and postal depots because they are widely used as agriculture and drug detector dogs.  That’s because they can be trained to put their keen noses to good use!  I even came across this YouTube clip from the television show The Doctors where Beagles and Dachshunds are being used as detector dogs for bed bug infestations:

Sadly, because of their size and temperament, they are often used in laboratories for animal testing.  In November 2011, I covered a story about 40 laboratory Beagles who had been rescued.

Perhaps the most famous Beagle is Snoopy (the cartoon by Charles Schulz).  Snoopy was obviously a white Beagle.

If you are looking for a lively pet with minimal grooming requirements and generally a good temperament, then the Beagle may be right for you!

Lessons from a Freethinking Dog

I have just finished reading Merle’s Door (Lessons from a Freethinking Dog) by Ted Kerasote.  This book was published in 2007 and became a national bestseller.  That’s not a surprise.

Mr Kerasote is an accomplished author.  He has written for publications including National Geographic, the New York Times, and Science.  And he has other books to his name.

Merle’s Door, however, has to be one of Mr Kerasote’s top literary accomplishments and something that will be remembered as a hallmark of his writing career.  Buy it (don’t just download it into your Kindle).

Merle’s Door is a biography of Merle, a dog adopted by Kerasote when they met totally by accident in 1991.  Merle was ‘living rough’ in the Utah desert and Ted was on one of his many trips with friends to enjoy nature.

“You need a dog, and  I’m it” says Merle.  And so begins a lifetime of 13 years together where Ted learns to translate Merle’s thoughts, to give him free reign to learn about life and his surroundings and, in turn, Ted learns many things from Merle.

Using his dog door and the freedom that Ted allowed him, Merle becomes the unofficial mayor of Kelly, Wyoming and makes many friends.  Along the way Ted establishes a ‘dedicated quadruped couch’ in his house and Merle leaves lasting footprints in the varnish of the balcony of the house they built together (and where Kerasote still lives).

Merle’s Door is Merle’s biography.  Lovingly written by Ted, we learn about Merle’s trademark “Ha ha ha” as he would converse with Ted in a language all his own.  He’d go hunting for elk, but was gun-shy when hunting birds  (and we find out why later in the book).  He has his scraps with other dogs and comes out learning valuable life lessons.

Later in life, Merle’s back end starts to deteriorate and Ted employs the use of acupuncture and massage to help his dog recover (no wonder why I like this book!).  With respect, he lets Merle define what will be a good day and a bad day and they enjoy one another’s company to the end.

Mr Kerasote does a wonderful job in depicting the human-dog bond that so many of us dog lovers have appreciated in our lives.  And he does it with the flair of an accomplished writer.

Like all true dog stories, be prepared for the end of Merle’s life in 2004 which is  obviously written by someone who has lived through the last days of their dog’s life.  Have a box of tissues handy – you’ll need it.  (I did)

This is a book I intend on keeping and adding to my dog book collection.  I’m grateful for Mr Kerasote’s writing talent because, not only is this Merle’s story, but it is well referenced with footnotes to key pieces of dog research (15 pages of references in total).

Through Mr Kerasote’s writing, Merle’s story lives on for all of us to share.  A wonderful dog that walked this earth for almost 14 years and left pawprints on many hearts….

Would a raised dog feeder help my dog?

A massage client asked me this question earlier this week.   The dog in question is a Boxer (beautiful boy) who happens to be suffering from degeneration in his spine.

Although he is doing well with regular swimming, acupuncture and massage therapy, his owner knows that he is comparatively young (8) and she wants him to have a good quality of life for a long time.  So that’s when we started talking about changes she could make to his physical environment to make things less stressful for him (ramps, steps, etc.)

Would a raised feeder help my dog?

Raised feeders can be a real advantage for a dog with orthopaedic problems or arthritis.  Eating from a raised feeder helps to relieve strain on the neck and back, allowing the dog to eat without dramatically altering their posture and helping them to retain balance.

But – some studies have shown that dogs who are susceptible to bloat have an increased risk from eating from a raised feeder.  The most notable reference for this link is an article by Dr Larry Glickman in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol. 17, No. 10.

Gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV) is known by the common term ‘bloat’  and other terms such as ‘stomach torsion’ or ‘twisted stomach.’  Regardless of what name you use, the condition is life-threatening.  Dogs can die of bloat within several hours.   Even with treatment, as many as 25-33% of dogs who develop bloat will die.

In bloat, the stomach fills up with air and puts pressure on the other organs and the diaphragm. The pressure on the diaphragm makes it difficult for the dog to breathe. The air-filled stomach also compresses large veins in the abdomen, preventing blood from returning to the heart.

Filled with air, the stomach can easily rotate on itself, pinching off its blood supply. This rotation is known as volvulus.  The stomach begins to die and the entire blood supply is disrupted.  A dog with this condition can deteriorate very rapidly – meaning a trip to the vet as an emergency.

Purdue University ranks Boxers as the 16th breed most susceptible to bloat (Great Danes are the highest).  So, in this case, the owner decided not to opt for a raised feeder.  Not only is her Boxer on the higher risk list, but he also is a gobbler – making quick work of his food!

This is just one example where it pays to do a little research.  An idea that seems like a good one may not be so.