.... and every day!
I am very pleased to be joined by Luisa Greig in the writing of this month’s blog post. Luisa Greig is a Canine Myotherapist who has been treating Bracken for around 18 months now. She also helps keep our team dogs in tip top condition. But did you know that Myotherapy can benefit pet dogs as well? I’ll now hand over to Luisa!
We know how much you adore your dogs and the thought and effort you put into ensuring they’re happy, fulfilled, content and loved. The training, the equipment and accessories, the high quality food, not to mention the walks, activities, time and cuddles.
But what about their musculoskeletal health? For many dog owners this typically isn’t an aspect of their dogs’ health and wellbeing that is considered until there’s an obvious issue, such as a minor injury or our dogs start to show overt signs of pain or a movement issue. This could look like slowing up on walks, inability or lack of willingness to jump into and out of the car, reluctance to go for a walk, engaging less with other dogs or their humans, or a sudden onset lameness. In fact dogs express pain via a multitude of other, often subtle and insidious signs.
One of the problems with identifying chronic (as opposed to acute pain, e.g. that associated with a specific injury such as a fall, collision, or other sudden physical trauma) is that it’s gradual and insidious. Typically, by the time we therapists are called to see dogs, their issue has has been rumbling along unseen and undetected for some time, often months or even years, and as such it’s ‘snowballed’ into a chronic and more widespread issue involving multiple muscular compensatory issues remote from the anatomical site of the original initiating issue.
Preventative routine maintenance check ups are super helpful in identifying minor muscular ‘niggles’ early, stopping them in their tracks before they’re able to ‘wind up’ and ultimately cause a more significant issue in terms of muscular compensatory mechanisms and postural adaptations, adaptive changes to movement and pain. In working and sports dogs, regular check up treatments help to optimise performance, reduce the risk of injury, and promote longevity of their working life and / or sporting career.
Massage has connotations of pampered pooches and luxury, but actually it’s a necessity and integral part of maintaining your dogs physical and emotional wellbeing. Muscular issues cause huge pain, mobility and behavioural problems, massively impacting dogs’ quality of life and perception of the world. I don’t know about you but during my muscular pain flare ups I’m seriously miserable and grumpy! Imagine living with that day in day out. Dogs are experts at hiding pain – it’s our job to spot it and have it treated. For example, they will very often still charge around on walks as compensatory mechanisms and adrenaline dampen and disguise pain.
Here’s a quick at a glance guide to what myotherapy is, it’s benefits, and indications for treatment (who can have it):
What is Galen Myotherapy?
Myotherapy literally means ‘muscle therapy’. Treatments typically use a range of manual (hands on) techniques including various soft tissue massage techniques, myofascial release, joint mobilisations and stretches, as well as functional / remedial exercises. The approach is holistic and function-based, looking at the dog’s posture and movement in it’s entirety. This means that myotherapists don’t simply focus on the presenting problem / area of pain or dysfunction, but the underlying root cause, and secondary muscular referred pain and compensatory issues too. The body is very good at adapting to and disguising muscle dysfunction and pain by transferring load elsewhere, which over time causes a chain of muscle compensation, until this pain and dysfunction becomes chronically established and symptoms become overt, such as a sudden unexplained lameness. Often the compensatory muscular issues associated with a dog’s condition cause them as much pain and dysfunction as the underlying issue itself. Myotherapy treatment helps to ‘unwind’ this compensatory build up process, improves muscle function, helps correct movement and postural issues, treats both acute and chronic muscular injuries and lameness, reduces muscle pain, helps to improve range of movement and mobility, and can therefore significantly improve dogs’ quality of life. As such, myotherapy treatment forms a crucial element of dogs’ multimodal, integrated management regimes and works synergistically with any other treatment modalities your dog may already be receiving, such as hydrotherapy, acupuncture, physiotherapy and chiropractic / McTimoney treatment.
- Pain reduction
- Improved quality of life
- Cessation or reduction of behavioural issues where pain is causative or contributory
- Improved mobility
- Improved mental, emotional and physical wellbeing
- Improved quality of life
- Helps reduce anxiety and promote relaxation
- Can be adapted to be a warm up and down pre and post event or competition
- Can be adapted for owners to apply basic massage at home
- Promotes longevity of your dog’s working life or sporting career
- Promotes optional performance in your dog’s sport
- Early identification and treatment of minor muscular issues
Treatment is always choice led, meaning that dogs are handled with utmost respect, empathy and sensitivity, treated at floor level, and without restraint or being muzzled. This enables them to take a break as and when they may need to, and express their boundaries in relation to what they’re comfortable with. Myotherapists understand that often dogs are in pain, and we work ‘with’ them to build a relationship based on trust and communication.
Who is myotherapy suitable for?
First things first, legally every dog we, or in fact any musculoskeletal therapist treats must first have consent to be treated by their vet. We don’t require a referral or recommendation from their vet, rather vet consent confirms that the dog has no contraindications to treatment. Contraindications describe conditions or situations whereby treatment is inappropriate or unsafe, and could worsen the condition. Some examples would be a trauma injury or lameness whereby the dog hasn’t received vet examination and a diagnosis, clinical shock, infection, diahorrea, or an unstabilised fracture or break.
Myotherapy is very effective in managing the pain, loss of mobility and often severe postural problems caused by musculoskeletal conditions such as:
- Hip and elbow dysphasia
- Cruciate disease
- Patella luxation
- Spondylosis / spondylitis
- IVDD (intervertebral disc disease)
- Lameness / movement irregularities
- Lumbosacral disease
- Chronic muscular compensatory pain
- Post surgery or injury rehabilitation
Find out more at www.galenmyotherapy.co.uk.
Luisa has been working with dogs in a professional capacity for over 15 years. She runs a busy consultancy practice covering Sussex, Surrey, and parts of Berkshire and Kent, and also worked across Europe. She aims to provide an empathetic, caring, professional, comprehensive, and effective service, supporting both you and your beloved dog. She is fully qualified (BSc Equine Science, MSc Animal Manipulation, Dip. Canine Myotherapy), insured, and registered with both Galen Myotherapy and IAAT (International Association of Animal Therapists). Special interests include sleddogs, and she is a self confessed Alaskan Malamute addict!
BSc (Hons) Equine Science
MSc Animal Manipulation
Level 3 Diploma in Canine Myotherapy
Certificate in Canine First Aid
Tel: 07592 310016
Facebook: Luisa Greig / Luisa Greig – Canine Myotherapist