Canine osteopathy treats all canine breeds, including household dogs, occupational dogs and professional dogs from puppies onwards. Regular treatment of racing and agility dogs suffering from musculoskeletal imbalances can also help improve their performance whilst maintaining their overall health.
Canine osteopathy treats the dog’s body as a whole, rather than only focusing on any one particular veterinary condition – the aim of the canine osteopath is to always look for the underlying cause(s) of the dog’s problem to return its body to balance. If you are not sure whether canine osteopathy is right for your dog and would like to discuss treatment with us, please contact us with your queries.
When should I contact a canine osteopath?
If your dog is recovering from an injury or if you notice a change in their behaviour. A dog’s only way of communicating discomfort or pain is to display changes in personality, character or performance. For example, your dog may start having difficulty getting into the car, going up the stairs or climbing onto their favourite chair. They may not want to get out of bed or go for a walk. They might show discomfort, growl or whimper when touched or, worse still, bite. If they are a competition dog, their performance may suffer causing them to become slower, knock fences or refuse to sit, stay etc.
Misalignments can also cause various symptoms and the dog will often subtly change its gait to compensate for the problem(s). The joints involved can become stiff and lack their normal range of motion. Ligaments will be put under extra strain, muscles will have reduced elasticity and be more prone to injury. Nerves can become impinged causing muscle wasting and weakness. These symptoms can often be relieved with osteopathy.
Why might my dog need treatment?
Problems can occur in dogs for many reasons:
- Traumas and Accidents: falls, road traffic collisions, slipping, fighting
- Repetitive Activities: jumping on and off the sofa, in and out of the car
- Competitions: Greyhound/Whippet racing, Agility dogs
- Breed Weaknesses: Dogs with long backs and relatively short legs are prone to disc problems (e.g. Dachshunds); hip dysplasia (e.g. German Shepherds);
cervical vertebral instability (e.g. Weimaraners); osteochondritis dissecans
affecting the shoulders and elbows (e.g. Labrador Retrievers)
- Lameness: Arthritic pain’s and hip dysplasia can cause the dog to compensate his/her walking gait, which can develop into secondary back problems.
- Post surgery
How many treatments will my dog need?
This depends on the history of your dog, the age and the demands placed upon him/her. I.e. Agility and Racing dogs, much like human athletes, can suffer from over training and may benefit from their joints and muscles being cared for regularly. Elderly dogs often need regular treatments to help improve their mobility and combat stiffness. Annual check-ups, maintenance treatments, pre-competition/event tune-ups and preventative treatments may be advised. All of this will be discussed with the owner after the first consultation and treatment.
How long does the treatment take?
The first treatment usually lasts 45-60 minutes, follow-up treatments are approximately 30 minutes.
Should I consult my vet?
Yes. It is illegal for any treatment to be conducted by any other practitioner on an animal without the consent from your attending vet. Before an appointment can be made, please ask your vet to fill out the Veterinary Consent Form found at the top of the home page and to attach any relevant medical history they feel will help in the examination and treatment of your dog.
Is my dog covered for treatment on my animal insurance?
Yes. The majority of insurance companies are happy for an animal insured with them to receive osteopathic treatment from a registered osteopath holding valid insurance, provided that the treating vet recommends the treatment and refers the case. (Do check with your insurer prior to treatment if you wish to claim)
How do I know if a therapist is qualified or insured?
A registered Osteopath trains over a period of 4 years, plus an extra year for post-graduate training in Animal Osteopathy. It is also a legal requirement for a practitioner to be fully insured to call themselves a Human/Animal Osteopath. Ask the therapist to provide you with the name and telephone number of the college they qualified from, and details of their insurance company. A legitimate and qualified animal osteopath will be happy to provide all these details, like we are at East Sussex Osteopaths. Don’t put yourself or your animal in danger, just ask!
What can canine osteopathy help treat?
These are some of the most common conditions that canine osteopaths see:
- Muscular problems such as stiffness, spasms or atrophy
- Gait problems such as short or uneven steps
- Aging problems such as arthritis
- Joint Pains, Lameness, Limping
- Back Pain, Disc Bulges, Disc Problems, Herniated Discs, Spondylosis, Spondylitis
- Neck Pain, Cervical Vertebral Instability
- Hip Problems, Congenital Hip Dysplasia, Arthritis, Bursitis
- Changes in behavioural patterns, Inability to Relax
- Poor or reduced performance levels
- Circulatory Problems (local and minor)
- Digestive Problems
- Post-operative Issues: Osteopathy can help speeding up the recovery process and will limit compensatory strains
What does an osteopathic treatment involve?
We begin the consultation with a case history; noting any previous injuries, treatments and medications, as well as looking at the lifestyle of the dog and the demands placed upon him/her. We then observe the dog in-hand, walking, running and performing a series of turns. We then conduct an osteopathic examination of the dog, assessing all joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons. After consultation with the owner, we then commence treatment if appropriate. The techniques we use during treatment consist of:
- Joint articulation
- Soft tissue techniques, such as massage, stretching, lymphatic drainage, reflex and trigger point work
- Joint Manipulation (when necessary)
- Gentle Cranial and Functional work
- Laser Therapy
The techniques we use during the treatment will be tailored specifically for each individual dog according to his/her age and build.
We do not treat dogs under sedation.
After care for maximising performance
After treating, and if appropriate, advice will be provided on rest, stretches and exercise. Follow-up treatments will then be discussed with the owner. The number of treatments required will depend on your dog’s history as well as what is being treated. The initial consultation will also have a bearing on this decision and the owner will be kept fully informed throughout the whole process.
How will my dog feel after treatment?
Treatments initiate a healing response which triggers changes to occur within the dog’s body and encourage toxins to be released for elimination. This can often be quite a tiring experience for your dog. For this reason we recommend that your dog should rest for 2-3 days post treatment, then begin a graduated return to normal activity over the next 5-7 days, depending on their diagnosis.
Don’t forget the owner!
Following the discussion and treatment of your dog, the owner may feel they need a little attention as well. If your dog pulls on their lead this can cause muscular imbalance through the shoulders or, if competing your dog, stresses and strains on the human body can arise from the training or grooming process. Osteopathy can help detect and treat these symptoms, enabling dog and owner to be more comfortable, maximising their potential in any canine discipline whilst improving overall health and wellbeing.
After a course of treatments with Chantal she is more like her old self, acting like a much younger dog
Maddy is a nine year old Boxer and began to have difficulty walking, a common problem that effects Boxers at her age. However, after a course of treatments with Chantal she is more like her old self, acting like a much younger dog… even chasing squirrels again even though she can never catch them.
Maddy no longer needs her pain medication and we are very pleased with the considerable improvement in her health and general wellbeing after her course of treatment with Chantal.
J.L & W.T. Fuller