Canine Osteopathy works with the same principles as human Osteopathy, and is a system of assessing, diagnosing, treating and preventing a wide range of health problems.
It uses physical techniques to treat neck pain, back pain, general aches and pains, postural and performance problems in dogs. This is performed with consideration to the dog as a whole, rather than focusing on the apparent injured area.
Osteopaths look for the primary or underlying cause of the problem and then attempt to restore balance. They can treat dogs of all ages and sizes, from Cockapoos to Irish Red Setters. They all they have their unique problems though sometimes these are breed specific e.g. hip dysplasia. Sometimes their problem may be related to the activity the dog undertakes.
Osteopaths treat most conditions affecting the musculo-skeletal system, including include muscle strain, spasm, tendonitis, ligament sprains, conformation related problems, canine sports performance issues and injuries from agility & being a working dog. These issues may result in pain or stiffness, with compensatory gait changes within the dog.
The Osteopath aims to promote healthy functioning, by correcting mechanical imbalances within and between the different anatomical structures within the dog. The treatment intends to realign any imbalances, reduce tension, strain patterns and help to restore normal function so the dog can move pain free and to the best of their ability.
The actual assessment will begin with an observation of the dog through gait cycles: walk, trot, canter (if possible). We may ask your permission to video this to allow for more an accurate assessment and give us a point to refer back to gage progress. Any video footage the owner has is always greatly welcomed as some problems may be intermittent and may not show up during the assessment.
There will then be general palpation through the dog’s entire body, looking for imbalance, tension, strain patterns and injury. Any neurological or orthopaedic examinations will then be carried out. At this point an osteopathic evaluation can be made.
Once they have been fully assessed the dog the Osteopath will fully explain their hypothesis and propose a management plan. They will answer any questions, and if indicated, advice on how much osteopathic treatment might be needed. To facilitate recovery, rehab exercises or activities will be recommended. They will also suggest any changes that might be helpful to the dog’s health, such as diet and exercise, including hydrotherapy.
Once the management plan has been agreed and the dog is comfortable, treatment then follows, with the intention of restoring optimal function so the dog can move to the best of their ability.
Occasionally, the dog may have to be referred back to the vet for further investigations before commencing with treatment. This is not a common occurrence and is only done with the dog’s safety in mind.
To treat the dog the Osteopath uses the application of joint articulation & manipulation and gentle soft tissue/massage type techniques to release tight and irritated muscles, tendons and joints with the aim of reducing irritation to the surrounding tissues. This treatment is intended to result in a reduction of the dog’s pain symptoms and thereby increasing their range of movement and ability to move.
Generally dogs enjoy treatment, though when working over a painful area, we work sensitively. All techniques are modified to account for the dog’s anatomy vs human anatomy and with respect to their pain.
Sometimes the dog may experience some minor discomfort post treatment, which may manifest as a change in behaviour or short term increase in pain or stiffness. To minimise the osteopath may give post treatment advice, such as hot or cold compresses, or suggest minor home adjustments where necessary. Any post treatment discomfort should alleviate in 24-48 hours. Therefore, if they are a working/racing dog it is recommended they are not worked for this time scale.
During treatment your dog will not be muzzled, unless there is a history of biting, or if the owner has concerns. The owner may be asked to hold the dog in a safe way during treatment.
Osteopathy can be helpful in many cases of musculoskeletal trauma and overstrain. Trauma can come in many different forms including dogs slipping on hard floors, jumping in/out cars or furniture, fighting with other dogs, playing too zealously and repetitive fetching of a ball. The result of the trauma may present as lameness, crying out when touched in an area, or moving. The owner may also notice a change in behaviour or temperament. The treatment delivered by the Osteopath works to aid lymphatic drainage and improve blood supply to promote healing.
Osteopathy can be a good adjunct to allopathic treatment in assisting the dog feel more comfortable when they are older or if they are terminally ill and to help maximise their mobility. This may extend the symptom free period between other treatments, such as injections, and enhance their quality of life. The treatment provided by the Osteopath is individual to each case and is adapted for an elderly dog or in the case of palliative/end of life care. The techniques chosen are gentler and are perfectly suitable to be used.
Here is a list of when you may consider seeking treatment. This list is not exhaustive:
Under current Veterinary Law only a Veterinary Surgeon can provide a diagnosis and treat a dog. A Veterinary surgeon however can refer cases to osteopaths where appropriate. Our Osteopaths always work in conjunction with the dog’s veterinary surgeon and obtain consent from them before beginning treatment on a dog. To this end, prior to any treatment being undertaken, our Osteopaths will require written approval from the dog’s vet. This process can sometimes be frustrating for owners but it is there for the safety of the dog and also enables the Osteopath to talk to the vet about the case in advance of the treatment. This often provides them with invaluable information.
Most vets are aware of the benefits of complementary treatment for animals and will readily give their permission for dogs to be treated by Osteopaths. Most pet insurances are also happy to cover Osteopathic treatment with an insured Osteopath, if the Vet recommends treatment and refers to the Osteopath, (please check with your insurers first). All Osteopaths are registered under the General Osteopathic Council by law and any which are working with animals have to obtain additional insurance.
If you are unsure as to the suitability of Osteopathy for your dog, please feel free to ask any questions via email or phone.
Alternatively David can give this to you, or write to your Vet, after your initial examination.