Canine Myofunctional Therapy (CMT), more commonly known as Dog Massage is a specialised form of remedial muscle therapy in which a qualified therapist performs a sequence of massages & stretches on a dog. It is a non-invasive & drug-free therapy that helps to release tight muscles, improve movement quality & reduce compensation patterns by helping the right muscles function better. The benefits of the therapy are numerous & include but are not limited to slowing down the natural aging process, helping healthy dogs stay healthier for longer & rehabilitating injured dogs by enabling them to move better.
Just as humans benefit from massage, so do our dogs. Not forgetting our other smaller or bigger animal companions.
There has been much research from The Touch Research Institute located at the Mailman Center for Child Development at the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Miami Florida that continues its research today of the multitude of benefits of massage/touch therapy on our health & well-being.
It only makes sense that massage too has many health & well-being benefits to our canine companions.
Just as each person is an individual, their massage treatments are planned accordingly. It's no different when massage treatments are planned for your dog. Every dog is treated as an individual & their treatment will be adjusted to suit their needs to achieve optimum health by applying therapeutic, remedial & relaxation techniques.
Massage for Sporting & Competitive Canines
Most dogs like to keep active & like dedicated athletes they'll keep pushing through pain. They won't tell you they are sore & stiff or have pulled a muscle. An accredited CMT understands the workings of a dog's muscular system & they can likely both help alleviate pain caused by a present or persistent problem & prevent injury. A remedial massage is ideal to enhance performance in active sporting dogs, assist show dogs to achieve maximum range of motion & better body balance around the show ring & it can assist them to relax & be at ease before a show.
For dogs who regularly participate in athletic sports such as agility, flyball, retrieving competitions, lure courses or regular games of catch in the park, injury can be a concern. Made worse by the dog's owner who may be unaware of a dog carrying an injury. Massage can also benefit the dog by recovering more quickly if an injury does occur & can decrease the “down time” needed in between competitions. Many supporters of canine massage will testify that massage can also keep a dog active longer & can prolong their competitive careers.
Massage for Canines after surgery
Dogs, like humans need rehabilitation & specialist care & attention after injury, illness or an accident. In post-operative dogs, massage can help flush the body of sedation & anesthesia drugs as well as stored toxins which increases the speed at which animals recover & heal. The movement of lymphatic fluids strengthens the immune system which can also shorten recovery time.
When a dog undergoes major surgery he must often be kept immobile during the initial recovery period. When an dog remains very still bodily fluids accumulate & stagnate. It's also likely during surgery dogs are often restrained in unnatural positions so the surgeon has optimal access to the surgical site. Unfortunately this means their bodies are positioned in ways that can cause muscular tension & discomfort post surgery. Massage can encourage the natural flow of blood & other body fluids as well as move the stagnated cellular waste that can cause pain, whilst maintaining muscle tone & function.
Massage for Special Needs Canines
There are some dogs that have special needs that can be addressed with a therapeutic massage. Relaxation massage has helped dogs with behavioural problems & severe anxiety by helping them to relax so they can learn healthier interactive skills. Rescue dogs who have trouble adjusting to their new homes also benefit greatly from massage therapy, as do senior dogs who may suffer from joint problems & painful arthritis.
Dogs involved in high stress tasks like search & rescue or police work could also benefit from the relaxing nature of therapeutic massage. Just like people who perform high-stress tasks, these dogs need a chance to relax & unwind too.
Massage can also benefit puppies. A caring gentle touch allows them to get use to being handled by a human which can make going to the vet a lot less stressful. It’s a wonderful socialization tool, increasing the dog's trust in human while providing relief from the aches & pains that come with growing bones & muscles, & even those pin like puppy teeth!
End of Life & Palliative Care for Canines
Families of dying pets often feel helpless and are looking at ways to ease their pets transition to the Rainbow Bridge. There are simple and beneficial massage techniques that can be show . This gives owners a way to help their animal relax and rest more comfortably. It gives them the sense they are doing something useful for their pet beyond medicating him when he seems upset or frustrated.
Massage also helps maintain a powerful physical connection between owner and pet. A regular CMT treatment of a terminally ill dog – especially performed by the dog's owner can provide an invaluable healing experience for both the animal and the family members. It is such an integral part of end of life and palliative care for every special dog at the end of his or her life.