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Sparsholt and Winchester Universities to trial canine massage...

Dog owners may seek out massage therapy for their dogs for a variety of reasons which may include chronic pain management, conditions such as arthritis, or to improve common movement and mobility issues, e.g., lameness, slowing down, and stiffness. Just as with humans, dogs have a complex anatomy and physiology and may have a range of musculo-skeletal issues that only a highly skilled practitioner can locate and treat. With off-the-shelf online courses readily available and nothing to stop anyone calling themselves a canine massage therapist, what education should dog owners look for to ensure that their precious pet is in good hands? Virginia Harry reports.

The Canine Massage Guild will be making history when both Sparsholt and Winchester universities conduct the first ever, in-depth clinical trials on the efficacy of clinical canine massage therapy and, specifically, the Lenton Method®, a three-tiered, results-driven approach to the assessment and treatment of musculoskeletal problems in dogs.

The Lenton Method® uses a systematic and scientific method of advanced palpation skills to isolate the muscles and fascia for assessment. It also incorporates BodyMapping, an anatomical site map with specific locations of injuries and issues, and 'the 7 Protocols,' a unique set of direct myofascial release techniques that rehabilitate musculoskeletal injuries and provide chronic pain management for orthopaedic conditions such as arthritis and hip dysplasia. Prior to its application, Guild therapists prepare the tissue by using a selection of other techniques from the four disciplines of Swedish, sports, deep tissue and myofascial release massage.

Founder of the Canine Massage Guild and Canine Therapy Centre, and creator of the Lenton Method, Natalie Lenton comments, 'Our goal is for all owners to have access to affordable, effective and ethical clinical canine massage for their dogs, whether they are older and showing signs of ageing, recovering from lameness caused by a muscular injury, or other changes in their activities of daily living.

Having the Lenton Method selected by these prestigious universities for in-depth clinical trials will give us a scientifically-proven approach that owners can trust and which, we hope, will also raise the bar for the profession as a whole. This ground-breaking study is set to revolutionise the way we think about clinical canine massage therapy for dogs.'

Canine Massage Guild therapists have undertaken a rigourous two year Clinical Canine Massage Practitioner Programme, delivered by the Canine Massage Therapy Centre and externally accredited with LANTRA, a nationally-recognised awarding body regulated by OFQUAL, SQA and Qualification Wales.

University Centre Sparsholt is one of the UK's leading providers of undergraduate courses for the land and environment. It has strong links with The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons as well as a large number of RCVS Approved Training Veterinary Practices in the south of England. Winchester University’s Centre for Animal Welfare is an interdisciplinary centre that undertakes research, teaching and public engagement in the field of animal welfare. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) 82 percent of its submitted research was considered to be recognised internationally, with seven out of eight units of assessment achieving world-leading quality.

Study – Predictors of Canine Massage Efficacy

A wide sample of historical and contemporaneous data including consultation forms, submitted vet reports and owner feedback will be collated from across multiple Canine Massage Guild practitioners throughout the United Kingdom. This will include data from every Kennel Club group classification and mixed breeds, from every age of dog and role including pets, working dogs and sporting dogs, and with known disabilities.

University Centre Sparsholt will build a substantial database on which sophisticated statistical analyses can be run to determine if there are statistically significant predictors of successful treatment.

Study 2 – Double-Blind Trials

In 2019, following veterinary referral, double-blind trials will be conducted for a sample study of dogs of similar age, breed and presenting condition. An agreed set of evaluation tools and patient reported outcome measures will be used to measure the health gain in dogs following the application of The Lenton Method®.

The trials will incorporate owner pre- and post- treatment observations based on the five pillars of muscular pain - subclinical signs of muscular and myofascial injury for both acute and chronic pain:-

  • Gait

  • Posture

  • Activities of daily living

  • Behaviour

  • Performance

Participating dogs will be randomly assigned to two groups, a treatment group and a non-treatment group. Owners will be invited to attend for a course of three weekly appointments. However, only the participating therapist and assigned Research Assistant from University of Winchester will know which dog has received treatment

The data gathered will inform on the impact of the condition pre-treatment and the impact after the application of the Lenton Method® on the dog’s daily life.

About the Canine Massage Guild
Clinical Canine Massage therapy as practised by members of the Canine Massage Guild typically sees results in 1-3 sessions based on an ethical client approach model and the unique integrative blend of four disciplines of massage alongside the unique Lenton Method®.

For chronic pain management, soft tissue injury rehabilitation, and orthopaedic and neurological condition support, clinical canine massage blends myofascial release (MFR), both the direct and indirect approach, sports massage, deep tissue massage and Swedish massage. It also incorporates the trademarked MFR protocols from the Lenton Method®, a three-pronged approach that incorporates advanced palpation skills, BodyMapping (an actual map of the body that is used to determine common areas of muscular injury and issue as well as myofascial pain developed over the course of 10 years) and The 7 Protocols, a unique set of MFR techniques that produce long lasting results.

Clinical therapists are also trained in the assessment of orthopaedic and neurological conditions essential for patient referral back to their consenting vet to ensure paramount client care. Written reports are also provided to the consenting vet and sensible home care plans are provided to the owner.

The initial Clinical Canine Massage Practitioner Programme is delivered by the Canine Massage Therapy Centre Ltd. over a period of two years and it is externally accredited by LANTRA. Upon completion and pass of written and practical examinations, therapists are able to join the Canine Massage Guild and commit to Continuing Professional Development (25 hour/year minimum) provided exclusively by CMTC for Guild members including manual lymphatic drainage, facilitated stretching, skill reviews, neuromuscular refacilitation, ventral MFR and other clinically appropriate bodywork courses.

Animal welfare, consumer protection, clarity of law and professional standards are the Guild's core values alongside providing the best service possible to dogs, their owners and vets. The online therapist register includes members from the UK, Ireland and Spain.

For more information, visit the Canine Massage Guild web site or email:

First Published 23rd September 2018


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