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Osteopathy is a science in which the practitioner interprets a wide range of diagnostic clues in the search for the underlying cause of a problem. Claire Short could wax lyrical about neuro-muscular this or myo-fascial that, but she's been told by her partner to stick to plain English, so thatís what she's done! Pay attention.
Essentially, if an animalís structure (that is, its skeleton and all the attached muscles, ligaments and tendons etc) is not working properly, it is likely to prevent the animal performing its normal function. The principle applies equally to humans and dogs. It can also work in reverse Ė keep doing the same unusual activity and the structure may adapt to suit. And that can cause pain.
Osteopathy and dogs
The Dog as an
As we work our dogs, their muscles build up to help them fly over the hurdles and crouch low through the tunnels. As these muscles work harder they can get shorter, which may prevent your dog weaving through the poles so well. The muscles can also develop at different rates so one side may be more toned than the other. This may result in your dog having the most amazing height over hurdles, but always landing slightly to one side so losing valuable seconds in the race against the clock.
Iím not for a moment suggesting that we should give up all training and leave our dogs to lounge about in front of the telly, but it is important to recognise the strains and pressures we put on their bodies, and to be aware that there are ways of making the dog more comfortable and reducing the chances of future injury. At the same time, this is likely to improve performance.
Osteopathy - What to
After taking the history, the osteopath will look at how your dog moves. He or she will check the joints and muscles for any tightness, and will examine the whole dog, since the cause of the problem is not always where you think it might be. Donít be surprised if your osteopath examines your dogís head when you were convinced there was a problem with the back legs!
Osteopathy is not just about clicking backs. You may see your osteopath using stretches, gentle joint mobilisation and massage-like techniques to remove any imbalances in mobility. Manipulation (clicking), is used when necessary, and despite the noise is painless. Another, very gentle, technique is cranial osteopathy. This is a subtle method of treating and may send both you and your dog to sleep! Donít be fooled, though, it is a powerful way to rebalance ligaments, and strains throughout the body. You may also be advised on exercises or stretches to incorporate into your training time. This is particularly important for agility dogs as some of their muscles are prone to getting very tight.
do I know if my dog needs treatment?
How often will my
dog need treatment?
If you would like more information about animal osteopathy please do contact Claire at:=
If you are not in the Midlands, North London or South East of England and would like to find out more about osteopathy for either your dog or yourself, please see below.
Currently her lumbering Labradorís lack of interest in agility prevents her competing, but the two of them persevere none the less!
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