Canine Osteopathy

Why Osteopathy for a dog?

​Osteopathy is a gentle hands on therapy which works as well for dogs as for humans, Osteopathy ultimately aims to restore movement wherever in the body it may be lost, and to reduce pain and discomfort resulting from these restrictions. When the joints, muscles, ligaments or tendons, connective tissue or even the vessels and organs of the body aren’t free to move pain and discomfort will often result. Many activities we, and our dogs consider a part of normal daily life, can result in these sorts of restrictions. Degenerative processes due to age, injury, breed predisposition or just bad luck can also create compensation and restriction of free and full range of motion. Helping to reduce these restrictions can have huge effects on the comfort levels of the dog plus helping dogs gain the most from tailored rehab programmes after surgery.

What is the main aim of Osteopathic treatment?

The major goal to Osteopathic treatment is finding and addressing restrictions in movement, the premise being that restricted movement, in any tissue of the body, will reduce the capacity for full health of those tissues. This obviously can result in altered gait, altered ability to carry out normal activities of daily life and predispose the body to injury and/or pain. So with that in mind, the Osteopath primarily uses their hands to find and reduce restrictions in normal movement of the body to allow the natural healing ability to work to its best capacity. That’s the abbreviated version.

​The full version is something I’m only too happy to converse at length whenever anyone asks! Even 15 years into my professional life I am still blown away, on an almost daily basis, by how powerful it can be to simply allow a body to move. The changes are often much bigger than even I expect, particularly with animals compared to humans, as they have no preconceived ideas as to what they should or shouldn’t be feeling, and what their pain does or doesn’t mean to their life.

Problems in dogs that Ostepathic treatment can help

So what might an owner see that might give them cause to think an Osteopath could help?

  • Obvious lameness especially if of uncertain origin
    • Is your dog suddenly throwing in an occasional hop or obviously favouring one limb?
  • Crooked posture at rest or in movement  
    • Do they appear to be running like a crab?
    • Do they always sit and slump to one side or repetitively circle one direction only, when  trying to get comfortable to sleep?
    • Does one limb seem to lose grip or slide out the side when on slippery surfaces?
  • Difficulty with normal daily activities
    • Is your dog showing reluctance or struggling to jump up or down from furniture, or negotiating steps?
    • Are they slowing down and/or avoiding obstacles during agility or jumping?
  • Changes in temperament
    • Has your dog started being less tolerant of touch, seeking less social contact or refusing to play with people or other animals like usual?
    • Growling or teeth baring are late signs a dog is uncomfortable either physically or psychologically.
  • Recent trauma or surgery
    • Has he your dog had any falls or slips, or been barreled by another dog in play?
    • Is your dog progressing as expected with rehabilitation after surgery or showing signs she that they need some help recovering from surgery?
  • Aging or degenerative processes
    • Has he your dog been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in any joints of the limbs or spine, either primary or subsequent to an injury?
    • Are they simply slowing down as she they get older and finding it tougher to get going after rest?
  •  Less obvious signs of pain or altered nervous system function
    • Has your dog been excessively licking or chewing at a limb or body part?
    • Are they showing signs of weakness in the back or front end?
    • Have they been diagnosed by the vet and being managed for neurological conditions such as Wobblers syndrome or Disc Disease?

Some of these presentations are ones which Osteopathy can bring a full resolution to the problem, such as when there is simple restriction after a slip, fall or jarring. Some require ongoing maintenance treatment to help the dog as the process of healing occurs at the rate the body can heal, for example after a successful cruciate repair, or helping a dog who has had an amputation adjust to life without a leg at each corner. Finally some can simply be assisted in maintaining the best function of the surrounding areas of the body, so that the problematic area causes the least impact upon the dogs daily life.

How Canine Ostepathic treatment helped Roly the Jack Russell 

Occasionally these cases surprise you and make an almost miraculous turn around, like one wonderful little Jack Russell Terrier “Roly” who presented with full hind limb paralysis. Roly had 3 treatments over the space of a month, and along with veterinary management involving medication to manage pain and bandaging to protect his limbs, and some simple home exercises I prescribed for his owners to carry out, he was up and walking, albeit with reduced coordination. I next saw him almost a year later when visiting his owner to work on one of her horses and could hardly believe when I saw him leaping around the place as though there had never been a problem. He is a perfect example of how sometimes, simply giving their systems the space to heal by removing any restrictive roadblocks can reap huge rewards.

I am very excited to have the opportunity to work with the K9 SWiM team in the Wellness Centre in North Richmond, and have access to the vast skills and knowledge base of the rest of the team, not to mention the ability for my clients to access the hugely beneficial hydrotherapy options.

I greatly look forward to helping your dogs achieve their best physical health in 2018. If you have any queries please don’t hesitate to contact me on 0452 472 959