Now, you could be forgiven if you think that Canine Myofunctional Therapy (CMT) is some sort of New-Aged, fan-doggled treatment, but in actual fact canine therapeutic massage can greatly improve a dog’s quality of life. CMT is a form of touch therapy exclusively for dogs, and incorporates specialised massage and stretching techniques. Just like us humans getting therapeutic massages, dogs not only enjoy their massages and feel totally relaxed but will also receive major health benefits such as helping to treat and prevent injuries, assisting in after-surgery rehabilitation, increase range of movement, and assist in anxiety and stress reduction.
CMT is such a valuable discipline as it affects the whole dog; physically and emotionally. This is not only beneficial for the dog but also for the owner who will want to alleviate any pain their beloved pet is feeling and want the very best quality of life for them.
I caught up with Judi from Loving Touch Canine Therapeutic Massage in Elwood for a bit of a chat about this wondrous treatment.
Hi Judi. We’ve heard of some of the benefits that CMT can provide for a dog, but what kind of symptoms would a dog display to suggest he or she could benefit from CMT?
Well, of course if a dog has an injury, they will display obvious symptoms such as limping or a restriction in movement but often muscles are tight or there are some issues in one part of the body and the opposite part of the body may compensate for this- these symptoms may not be so obvious to the owner. For example, I often observe the following:
- With dogs that jump up a lot, I will look to see if the back paws are flat on the ground when they walk. Often with dogs that jump, the muscle in the back of the hind le g, like a hamstring in a human, can get very tight and it often will seem like the dog is standing on tip toes when it walks.
- Dogs that have tight pectoral muscles will walk with their front legs coming into the centre of the body.
- When a dog has arthritis, they may display stiffness, difficulty in moving, going up or down stairs and jumping, particularly into and out of a car and on or off a couch.
All of these situations will benefit greatly from CMT, but I must point out that CMT is not just for dogs with injuries or particular health issues; it is wonderful in preventing injuries and for their general health as the massage affects all of the systems in the body- it’s great for circulation and blood flow, removal of toxins, assists with digestion and respiratory function and makes them feel good!
How often does a dog require CMT?
The frequency of treatments is quite variable and is often on a case by case basis . For any muscle injury, it is much like a human, and a few treatments are often necessary to assist with healing. If the dog is being given CMT for general health, a massage every month or 6 weeks would be ideal to help prevent injuries, especially if it is quite an active dog and also be fantastic to keep them healthy.
How long does it take for a dog to benefit from CMT?
Sometimes the results are quite immediate, especially when you are able to release tight muscles or knots in the muscles. The dog most often will be very chilled out and relaxed after the treatment and I’ve had many owners tell me that their dog had more energy and better movement in the following days. With dogs that suffer from anxiety or issues like arthritis, a few treatments may be necessary to see results but the more treatments the better, in these cases.
Can you remember a dog that even you were surprised at the effect CMT had on that dog?
I have just recently had wonderful success treating a dog with a torn cruciate ligament in her hind leg. The vet had been contemplating surgery but at first gave her anti-inflammatories and was happy for me to give her CMT treatment. After two treatments, the owner advised me that the vet was so happy with the work I was doing that he thought that surgery may not be needed after all. Now after a treatment once a week for 4 weeks, she has rapidly improved, with her limping almost stopped, she is now able to jump onto the owners bed and surgery is not needed anymore!
What’s the process of a new dog coming to see you for CMT treatment?
When I first treat a dog, I always make sure that the dog is suitable to have a massage. There are some situations such as infections, inflammation, broken bones, etc where it may not be safe to perform a massage. It is important to know that CMT does not replace veterinary treatment and often I will require vet clearance in some cases. I always obtain a full medical history from the owner and then I will do a full visual observation of their posture, paw placement and gait which tells me a lot about what is going on with them and what areas I will concentrate on. I will then proceed with the massage which can take from 30 minutes for small dogs to 50 minutes for larger dogs.
Thanks Judi for your professional insight into Canine Therapeutic massage.
Judi works from her studio Loving Touch Canine Therapeutic Massage in Elwood but also makes home visits to specialised areas in the South Eastern suburbs in Melbourne.
To make a booking with Judi, please contact her here.