It was my pleasure and privilege to speak about animal massage at the FORWARD Symposium in the UK https://www.facebook.com/fitzforward/ with Supervet himself, Prof. Noel Fitzpatrick and Dr. Chris Zink.
I was so inspired by the other speakers on a range of topics, all of which will help us make better and more informed decisions regarding the welfare of our pets.
I spent yesterday at Aqua Paws Canine Wellness Centre giving a seminar on specific relaxation massage techniques as well as demonstrating controlled exercises on the FitPAWS equipment to help challenge their more motivated Fitcare dogs on the Fitness circuit!
I will be mainly using the equipment for rehabilitation purposes to improve proprioception, weight bearing and balance, but also to help strengthen dogs for sports such as Agility and Flyball.
Here is a link to the products on offer that can be used for canine rehabilitation http://blog.fitpawsusa.com/canine-rehabilitation-sports-medicine/#.VjuCZ-J2EsI.
For further information please contact me directly.
I am very excited to be attending a seminar with Dr. Chris Zink "Coaching the Canine Athlete" this weekend in Langley.
Coaching the Canine Athlete seminars provide information on how the canine body works, and what we can do to improve performance and keep our dogs healthy and injury-free.
Dr. Zink is a consultant on canine sports medicine who designs individualized rehabilitation and conditioning programs for canine athletes. She is the award-winning author of the books Peak Performance: Coaching the Canine Athlete, Dog Health and Nutrition for Dummies and The Agility Advantage and co-author of the book Jumping From A to Z: Teach Your Dog to Soar and the DVD Building the Canine Athlete. She co-edited the first ever book on Canine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (Wiley-Blackwell). She has put over 75 titles in Agility, Obedience, Conformation, Tracking, Hunt Tests, and Rally on dogs from the Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier and Herding groups. Dr. Zink was instrumental in establishing the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation as the newest specialty in veterinary medicine. She presents seminars worldwide.
Just as humans benefit from therapeutic massage, so do dogs and cats.
I was recently interviewed by Dr Rebecca Ledger an animal behaviour scientist who has a bi-weekly column in the Vancouver Sun http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Therapist+massage+right+your/8889093/story.html.
Veterinarians are hot on the trail of family physicians when it comes to the diversity of therapies that they prescribe for their patients.
Referrals to paraprofessionals are on the rise. This follows an increase in training and accreditation for animal practitioners, as well the inclusion of many adjunct therapies under animal health insurance plans. Animal massage is one such therapy gaining acceptance and popularity.
Animal massage is not just about giving pets an indulgent, spa-like experience. Like us, who seek massage therapy for rehabilitation as well as for the pure joy of it, so too can pets reap comparable physical and emotional benefits.
Nicola Way, a small animal massage practitioner from Vancouver, helps her referred patients with a variety of neurological and muscular problems. Managed conditions typically include trauma resulting from road traffic accidents, post-operative care, strains and sprains, arthritis and chronic conditions, such as Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) and Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE). Approximately 90 per cent of Way's caseload is dogs, the remainder cats.
Just as with humans, animal massage therapy includes different techniques, which are applied according to the condition. Arthritic animals, for example, benefit mostly from light tissue work, where the fascia is gently moved, increasing blood flow and lymphatic drainage in a targeted area. In post-surgical patients, Way observes first hand how the healing process can be expedited for recovering individuals.
Massage therapy can also be a component of palliative care, which aims to improve the quality of life for chronically unwell animals. Nicola helps these pets to maintain or increase their range of motion, such as when the patient has endured an injury or simply, if they are getting old. Gentle stretches and light tissue work are applied to alleviate pain and discomfort and thus help cats and dogs to move more easily.
Way sees most of her clients on a regular basis, ranging anything from every one to four weeks, and anticipates a spike in referrals in September and October. As fall descends, and the days get damper, so many muscle and joint aches get worse.
So, now you think your pet might benefit from massage, how do you choose the right practitioner?
First off, seek advice from your veterinarian. He or she will know who is competent to work with your pet and will be able to make the referral for you. They will also be able to brief the therapist on your animal's condition. Going this route ensures that any associated issues will also be diagnosed and managed appropriately. Your veterinarian will likely refer you to a member of the British Columbia Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork Professionals, whose associates have typically undergone thousands of hours of instruction in anatomy and rehabilitation before qualifying to practise.
For those who don't have a veterinary referral and pet insurance, why not simply try it yourself at home?
Whilst Way encourages owners to massage their pets lightly for the pure delight of it, deep tissue massage and stretches, she warns, can do more harm than good if done incorrectly and if not supervised by a veterinarian. "You wouldn't do acupuncture at home by yourself, and massage therapy should be perceived no differently", she explains.
Way cited an example of when one client was applying deep tissue massage to what she believed to be a knotted muscle in her dog's leg. After applying intense pressure for a couple of weeks and seeing no improvement, the dog was eventually examined by their veterinarian and diagnosed with a osteocarcinoma, bone cancer. The tumour had become increasingly inflamed from the pressure applied during the massage and urgent treatment had been delayed.
There are sometimes unexpected benefits too that arise from working with a professional massage therapist. Way recounted a situation where, while massaging a Beagle's throat, she detected a very small, cancerous lump in the thyroid gland. Massage increases the chance of some serious conditions being detected early, whilst contributing to your animal's overall quality of life.
Dr. Rebecca Ledger sees cats and dogs with behaviour problems on veterinary referral across the Lower Mainland. Read her blog at vancouversun.com/pets
Now that we're into summer, you may notice that your dog is developing hot spots and itching and scratching more. There is a difference between occasional nibbling and infected skin lesions. You should always consult your vet to determine the best course of preventative action.
I came across this article on WebMD which explains the causes of atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is a disease in which there is an inherited tendency to develop IgE antibodies in response to exposure to allergens that areinhaled or absorbed through the skin. This extremely common allergic skin disease is second only to flea allergy dermatitis in frequency, and affects about 10 percent of dogs.
Atopy begins in dogs 1 to 3 years of age. Susceptible breeds include Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Lhasa Apsos, Wire Fox Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, Dalmatians, Poodles, English Setters, Irish Setters, Boxers, and Bulldogs, among others, although any dog may be affected. Even mixed breeds may suffer from atopy.
Signs generally first appear at the same time as the weed pollens of late summer and fall. Later, other pollens begin to influence the picture: tree pollens in March and April; then grass pollens in May, June, and early July. Finally, the dog starts to react to wool, house dust, molds, feathers, plant fibers, and so forth. With prolonged exposure and multiple allergens, the condition becomes a year-round affair. Some dogs have indoor allergies (usually house dust, grain, mites, or molds), so they may react all year-round from the start.
In early canine atopy, itching is seasonal and the skin looks normal. Dogs scratch at the ears and undersides of the body. The itching is often accompanied by face-rubbing, sneezing, a runny nose (known as allergic rhinitis),watery eyes, and licking at the paws (which leaves characteristic brown stains on the feet). In many dogs the disease does not progress beyond this stage.
When it does progress, an itch-scratch-itch cycle develops with deep scratches (called excoriations)in the skin, hair loss, scabs, crusts, and secondary bacterial skin infection. These dogs are miserable. In time, the skin becomes thick and darkly pigmented. A secondary dry or greasy seborrhea with flaky skin often develops in conjunction with the skin infection.
Ear canal infections may accompany these signs, or may be the sole manifestation of atopy. The ear flaps are red and inflamed, and the canals are filled with a brown wax that eventually causes bacterial or yeast otitis.
Canine atopy, especially when complicated by pyoderma, can be difficult to distinguish from flea allergy dermatitis, scabies, demodectic mange, food allergies, and other skin diseases. The diagnosis can be suspected based on the history, location of skin lesions, and seasonal pattern of occurrence. Skin scrapings, bacterial and fungal cultures, skin biopsy, and a trial hypoallergenic test diet should be considered before embarking on an involved course of treatment for atopy. It is important to treat and eliminate fleas. The majority of dogs with canine atopy are allergic to fleas and may have an associated flea allergy dermatitis complicating the picture.
Treatment: The most effective long-term solution is to change the dog's living circumstances to avoid the allergen. The atopic dog is usually allergic to many different allergens, however, and often it is not possible to avoid exposure to them all.
Most dogs with atopy respond well to treatment. A first and most important step is to reduce the threshold for scratching by treating and eliminating all associated irritative skin problems, such as fleas, seborrhea, and pyoderma. Wipe the dog down with a damp towel when she comes in from outdoors, which helps remove pollens picked up in the coat.
Antihistamines control itching and scratching in 20 to 40 percent of atopic dogs. Corticosteroids are the most effective anti-itch drugs, but also have the most serious side effects. They are best used intermittently in low doses and for a limited time. Preparations containing hydrocortisone withPramoxine are often prescribed for treating local areas of itching. Pramoxine is a topical anesthetic that provides temporary relief from pain and itching.
Derm Caps and other essential omega-3 fatty acid products derived from fish oils have produced good results in some dogs. They are used as nutritional supplements in conjunction with other therapies. A variety of shampoos is available and may be prescribed by your veterinarian to rehydrate the skin, treat bacterial infection, and control seborrhea.
Dogs who do not respond to medical treatment can be considered for immunotherapy with hyposensitization. This involves skin testing to identify the allergen(s) and then desensitizing the dog to the specific irritants through a series of injections given over a period of 9 to 12 months or longer. Some dogs will require periodic boosters during times when allergens are heavy.
Some dogs with atopy benefit from switching to a higher-quality dog food, even if they don't have a food allergy. And if they are allergic to house dust mites, they often cross-react with grain mites and will benefit from a canned food or kibble that has no grain.
Most of my clients come to me by way of a referral from their vet. This is useful for me as I can liaise with the vet and decide on an effective treatment plan for the animal.
However, I do get word-of-mouth recommendations too. I always suggest to clients that it's a good idea to notify their vet when their pet is undergoing treatment outside the vet's clinic, so that everyone is on the same page.
If you have any questions about massage as a possible modality for your pet, please do not hesitate to contact me.
The US publication, Natural Pet, recently interviewed Nicola Way of Vancouver Animal Massage regarding the benefits of massage. The magazine highlights and promotes natural pet product news and services throughout North America.
The interview appears in the Summer edition of the magazine.
Nicola has joined the Vancouver Animal Wellness Hospital to provide rehabilitative and therapeutic massage services on a weekly basis. The clinic has an enviable reputation for providing traditional and holistic homeopathic care to animals encompassing a vision that promotes wellness whilst providing individualized, integrated medicine. Massage therapy is a natural fit with the clinic providing complementary treatment to the services of the vets and chiropractor.
Nicola is available on Monday mornings only at the clinic. Please call 604.738.4664 should you wish to make an appointment to be seen at the clinic.
A new organization serving pets and pet owners has formed in BC that brings together two branches of the pet care profession. In an announcement this week the new organization shares its mission and goals.
The announcement says, "Qualified Animal Massage and Bodyworkers have united with the formation of the British Columbia Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork Professionals.
This will benefit you and your animal companion by providing a list of approved, educated providers. Members will include Professional Animal Massage Practitioners and Therapists, Bodyworkers specializing in modalities such as Reiki and Therapeutic Touch, Associate Professionals and more."
For the full article, please click here, http://www.abbotsfordtoday.ca/?p=6641#more-6641.
Here is a link to my starring role with Dawn Chubai, one of the presents of Breakfast TV, and my Beagle, Billy, who even though the segment was filmed in the studio kitchen, didn't go looking for food !! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cyOFupOMK0
Nicola Way of Vancouver Animal Massage will appear tomorrow on City TV's Breakfast TV show demonstrating some massage techniques. Nicola is bringing Billy the Beagle as the demo dog. A link to the segment will appear shortly on this web site.
In the January / February 2009 edition of Vancouver Magazine, Vancouver Animal Massage and the services that Nicola provides have been highlighted in a section entitled 'Best of the City'. Click here to see the feature.
Give your furry friend a gift certificate this holiday season. Puurrrrfect for unwinding after a frenetic time of relatives visiting and too much good food!
Contact Nicola at Vancouver Animal Massage for more details.
Come to Vanier Park on Sunday, September 9th between 10 and 3.30pm to support the SPCA's annual Paws for a Cause event to raise money for the BC SPCA.
Nicola will be giving canine massages and all donations will be go directly to the SPCA.
So drop by with your 4-legged friend and treat them to a massage.
Vancouver Animal Massage launches new website.
Pet Expo, Abbotsford. Demonstration massage and information on the benefits of therapeutic massage at Booth 202.