As we all know, dogs aren’t just a dog, but they are a member of the family. Not only do dogs bring us so much joy, happiness and unconditional love, but I’m sure you’d all agree that they bring something special to the table as well. For example, service dogs, working dogs and family companion dogs alike all have their part to play with looking after us humans, whether they realise it or not. Therefore, they deserve to be treated with at least as much care and respect as we would to a human member of the family, in terms of keeping their bodies functioning to the best of their ability, comfortable and pain free.
Consider: Us as humans benefit from the work of physios, massage therapists, sports therapists, PTs and more. For example:
- Human – we may develop a poor posture due to work environment, stress, anxiety or cold weather causing us to hunch, resulting in a tense back, neck and shoulders.
- VS DOG – similarly, they may develop poor posture due to stressors, anxiety causing them to hunch, lifestyle & environment factors such as their conformation (the way they are put together, e.g having a relatively long back) or even things like the way they like to sit at the window sill!
- Human – an active human who does a lot of hiking, running or other sports may benefit from tissue massage, stretches or other physical therapies.
- VS DOG – most dogs are very active! I.e dogs spend plenty of their time walking and running, which as a human we ensure to keep our bodies comfortable and in shape.
- Human – If we have a niggling hip, or back, or an old or recent injury, we may ask a physio for advice or book for a treatment.
- VS DOG– Dogs rarely have a perfect conformation, meaning they are likely to have niggles here and there, particularly with an active lifestyle. This can lead to compensation and then further issues – see below for an excellent visual representation!
- Human – after orthopedic surgery, humans should undergo a physio programme to aid recovery.
- VS DOG – animals also require physio post surgery to ensure an optimal recovery. More on this soon 🔜 👀 .
The problem is, dogs and other animals are experts at hiding pain. For dogs, this is mainly because they are often so giddy and excited to be around their humans and doing things that they love, such as walking, fetching and jumping into that stinky muddy pond. For other animals, this can be due to their prey instincts (hiding any pain or vulnerability signs from their predators).
Therefore, is is important to notice subtle signs in the early stages, to prevent pain worsening and becoming harder to treat. (Please see the photo of the cycle of pain)
As a vet physio, it is my job to spot these subtle presentations, using my fine tuned visual and palpatory skills. This means the animal can be diagnosed by the vet earlier and start receiving appropriate treatment earlier to enable them to feel more comfortable and live their life to the fullest.
The main benefits of physiotherapy treatment for your dog include relieving any pain and discomfort, preventing loss of any muscle mass and helping to build muscle and tone, improving their posture, movement and gait (this also helps to keep your dog more comfortable in the longer term), and enhancing function and performance. There are also psychological benefits that your dog will reap, just as a human would enjoy a massage and the release of the endorphins afterwards.
If you have any queries about how your dog will benefit, please get in touch with Lily via her website