February 8th, 2010
He was a ten year old Doberman Pinscher named Zeus and had had a major surgery 6 months prior. He had always had fine health and was very active for his age. In fact he was often mistaken for a dog much younger. But after the surgery he just wasn't "right". He seemed frail and had hind leg weakness. He was easily knocked over by dogs at the bark park but still got up and wanted to keep right on playing with the other dogs. His spirit was bright despite his body was failing him. I attributed this to his age. I had no idea that the surgery had caused musculo-skeletal problems in his lower back. Until one day we went on a long walk in Burbank near the Equestrian Park and poor Zeus collapsed.
Terror filled my stomach as I relived my last dog, Ali, dying of bone cancer. It had been a horrific ordeal. Months of painful surgeries, recoveries, medicines and then in the end having him euthanized to escape the horrible suffering. This time maybe it was just a spinal misalignment just as when a person can pull a muscle in their back and experience weakness and pain. I called a chiropractor I knew who worked on dogs and made the appointment.
Going to the chiropractor was informative and helpful as it showed me exactly where the spinal misalignment was located in my dog's back. Although his leg was giving out it was the low back that was causing the impingement on the corresponding nerves and muscle affecting the right rear leg. The adjustment was helpful but as I expected the soft muscle tissue pulled the spine out of alignment the next day. Zeus was falling again. I knew what was happening and being a human massage therapist for over 20 years I began to massage the affected area. What I discovered was a huge knot or trigger point that had formed probably in response to the surgery and recovery period. The lack of movement caused his muscles to tighten just like sitting on an airplane in one spot for hours tightens the body and makes it ache. Being sedentary is probably even worse for dogs as their instincts and drives are even more highly developed than our own. Humans tend to let their minds take over but animals naturally follow what their bodies tell them.
I used techniques that are highly skilled to release the knot in his back and he tried to pull away as I am sure it hurt. A couple of these treatments cured my dog and he is walking fine now. Massage released the pain, restored the mobility of the spine and muscles and allowed the dog to regain his normal lifestyle all without drugs or surgery. Zeus is pain free and living an active lifestyle as a senior dog.
Susan Hill is a dog massage therapist and owner of Whole Dog Massage in Sherman Oaks, CA. Susan will travel to your home and give your dog a massage session.
Susan Hill can be reached at:
949 309 0808