Canine Massage Therapy, Hydrotherapy and after Surgery Support


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Archive for May 2016

Rhyse Karelian Bear Dog

Why did I become a canine hydrotherapist?

I have had the honor of being a best friend to my now deceased dog Rhyse. He was a Karelian bear dog which resembles a large Border collie cross Lab and lived to be 18 years old. For all the years we were together I always thought that Rhyse was a Border collie cross and trained him as such, he worked with sheep, did some agility and even tried flyball. It wasn’t until I attended my first practicum at North West School of Animal Massage that I met another Karelian bear dog and took it as a sign I had been directed to my true calling, my Rhyse was with me in spirit.

Rhyse was my shadow, my companion, my hiking buddy, my protector (we actually met up with a few bears on our travels which he protected me from), he was a faithful friend.

Unfortunately Rhyse was taken from me when he was around 6 years old and those years apart he experienced a broken heart because we were apart, loneliness with little exercise or proper care. Thankfully we were brought together again when he was 13 years old, overweight, poor health, no longer the energetic healthy pup he once was. He now had a calmer senior demeanor, and was a true senior dog with all the aches and pains that come with a neglected overweight older dog. I worked hard to recondition him to give him a better quality of life, he was given high quality food, vet check ups and treatment, conditioning for his sore muscles starting with walks and progressing till he was hiking over 5 kms per day and most of the time running he was so happy. Watching the transformation I knew I wanted to help other dogs have the best quality of life they could have by conditioning and helping them through injury rehabilitation.

canine hydrotherapistI heard about swim therapy for dogs on a hike one day and instantly knew this was my purpose! Hydrotherapy was how I could help dogs who needed to get into shape, rehabilitation therapy for injuries and post-surgical care to recondition weak injured muscles and even float therapy for very senior dogs that just need to rest their muscles in the therapeutic warm water environment. As I researched everything I could on the subject I found that there were many different types of hydrotherapy education being offered from basic fitness conditioning to very qualified diploma programs including anatomy, kinesiology, orthopedic conditions with extensive theory and hands on practical sessions. My goal was to get the best education possible and add in elements that I knew would help such as the rehabilitative massage therapy certification. I volunteered at a local canine hydrotherapy pool and loved every minute. I met wonderful new friends and experienced swim sessions with different dogs with injuries or conditions that I saw hydrotherapy worked very well to improve and give the dogs a better quality of life. I even helped teach a puppy how to learn to swim which was absolutely necessary because the breed isn’t known for being a good swimmer and his family was moving to waterfront property. One of my favorite dogs to swim are the tripods, these dogs need special attention and I love giving them, confidence, a non-impact environment to help balance the muscles and treat the compensating limbs for a more conditioned, pain free exercise option.

The full education I wanted took two years to complete, which is more than your average hydrotherapist. Some individuals choose the holistic therapy education which is more of a passive conditioning swim therapy in my opinion. Some individuals choose to do the first level which is certification, a good base for canine hydrotherapy. I chose to educate myself with the best level possible, a diploma in canine hydrotherapy and certification in canine rehabilitation massage therapy. I want to help all dogs, the hard cases such as post-surgical and neurological conditions require special attention and a calm purposeful swim session and the fitness swims for overweight and senior dogs. Knowing orthopedic conditions, contraindictions for injuries and proper swim protocol is very important and it was important for me to gain the knowledge so that each dog I was swimming is safely protected as best as possible from further injury or stresses.

I saw the benefit of massage in the warm water environment where I could use the hydrostatic pressure of the water to help move inflammation out of an injury area, release tension from sore tight muscles and having a floating dog takes the pressure off the injury site allowing me to work a limb and gain a better range of motion. Implementing massage with hydrotherapy sessions has shown to help injuries improve much quicker and to a higher level of healing than just swimming or create rest alone.

I love working with dogs to help give them the best quality of life possible. Hydrotherapy and massage therapy can be incorporated with your veterinarian care to create a full treatment program and achieve optimal results for your dog.

greyfriars-logonorthwest-logo1canine hydrotherapist

Ms. A. McDonald Dip CH, SARMT

  • Diploma in Canine Hydrotherapy from Greyfriars UK  www.greyfriarsrehab.co.uk
  • First Aid for Small Animals from Greyfriars UK.
  • Certificate in Small Animal Foundation Massage Therapy (level 1) from North West School of Animal Massage www.nwsam.com
  • Certificate in Small Animal Rehabilitation Massage Therapy (level 3) from North West School of Animal Massage www.nwsam.com
  • Walked Paws Dog Walking 101 – Business and Equipment Module And Sabrina’s link is www.shakeapaw.dog
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k9 hydrotherapy

More Than a Job

I have loved dogs and animals all my life and have always found happiness being around them.  When I was young I dreamed of being a veterinarian and helping animals in need.  My decision to put off attending higher education after completing high school was the end of that and it wasn’t until my kids were grown that I started to focus on my own dreams again.  I knew I needed a purpose and I was searching for way that I could  still be involved in helping animals recover from injuries and give comfort to older and infirm animals.  However pursuing  a career as a veterinarian was no longer viable due to my age and the years needed to complete the required education.

Some time later, I heard about a hydrotherapy pool and the difference it was making for dogs recovering from orthopedic injuries, muscle and tendon damage and helping strengthen dogs suffering from a variety of debilitating conditions. It was like a giant light bulb lit up –  I instantly knew this was to be my PURPOSE.  I immediately contacted the owner of the pool and soon after I was volunteering regularly, learning the basics of swim therapy.  After volunteering for a number of months and learning a great deal I made the decision to pursue further education and have since become both a Certified Small Animal Massage Therapist, and Small Animal Rehabilitation Massage Therapist (Northwest School of Animal Massage) and have a diploma in canine hydrotherapy. I believe the combination of both traditional massage based therapies and water based therapies give me an extensive tool set to develop effective recovery programs for dogs.

Dogs have made a huge difference in my life and this is my way of giving back. I was lucky enough to have my wonderful dog Rhyse who lived a full happy life until he was 18 years old, very capable and active right up till the day he passed.  I also had a tripod border collie that had no idea he was missing a leg he was amazing and fit thanks to lots of hikes in the forest.  Both these dogs have inspired me to help others with their animals.

Working with your veterinarian,  I am hoping to give your dog, better quality of life through weight management, controlled exercise and massage, hydrotherapy and recovery sessions.

greyfriars-logonorthwest-logo1shake-a-paw-small

Ms. A. McDonald Dip CH, SARMT

  • Diploma in Canine Hydrotherapy from Greyfriars UK  www.greyfriarsrehab.co.uk
  • First Aid for Small Animals from Greyfriars UK.
  • Certificate in Small Animal Foundation Massage Therapy (level 1) from North West School of Animal Massage www.nwsam.com
  • Certificate in Small Animal Rehabilitation Massage Therapy (level 3) from North West School of Animal Massage www.nwsam.com
  • Walked Paws Dog Walking 101 – Business and Equipment Module And Sabrina’s link is www.shakeapaw.dog
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About Canine Massage Therapy

Canine Massage Therapy being incorporated into the pool.

Massage therapy is a wonderful way to help dogs.  Hydrotherapy and massage therapy aids with circulation, relieves muscle tightness and spasms, reduces anxiety, increased oxygen to the muscles, aids in lymphatic draining, reduces pain and allows for greater range of motion.

The therapist targets affected tissues such as muscles, tendons, scar tissue and lymph nodes in injured, post-surgical and arthritic dogs aiding in the healing process and the wellbeing of the dog.   Massage may be applied in the pool to the area of injury and other areas of the dog may also need attention such as the muscles that are compensating for an injury or condition.  An example of a compensating area would be to massage the overused pectoral (chest) and cervical and thoracic muscles of the neck and shoulders of a forelimb lame dog.

Regular massage treatments bring about significant improvements particularly with pain relief, increased mobility, reduced tension and help to sedate the nervous system and release endorphins to aid healing.

Canine massage therapy is a field where certification is required as the therapist needs to be educated in knowing when there is a contradiction to massage, understanding of canine anatomy and the use of proper massage stokes and treatment.

Adding massage therapy to the pool therapy is an excellent way to compliment both treatments. Taking breaks during laps and adding in stretching & massage therapy increases the rate of recovery substantially.

 

greyfriars-logonorthwest-logo1canine massage therapy

Ms. A. McDonald Dip CH, SARMT

  • Diploma in Canine Hydrotherapy from Greyfriars UK  www.greyfriarsrehab.co.uk
  • First Aid for Small Animals from Greyfriars UK.
  • Certificate in Small Animal Foundation Massage Therapy (level 1) from North West School of Animal Massage www.nwsam.com
  • Certificate in Small Animal Rehabilitation Massage Therapy (level 3) from North West School of Animal Massage www.nwsam.com
  • Walked Paws Dog Walking 101 – Business and Equipment Module And Sabrina’s link is www.shakeapaw.dog
Read More