Thoughts

Hooray For The Holidays!

I love the holidays! I start getting all excited just before Halloween until after the New Year has begun. I love all of it – the decorations, the music, the food, and especially shopping for gifts for my favorite beings – including MY DOGS!

With all of that said, as excited as I am, the holidays can bring about stress, including for our pets. Their routine can be messed up, different people are coming in and out of the house, all kinds of boxes and decorations are filling the house, furniture (and dog beds) may get moved, and for me, a great big tree is in the corner!

This stress can often produce anxiety, and anxiety can lead to one very unhappy pet, and of course an unhappy owner! You know what helps with stress and anxiety? MASSAGE!

Massage and Anxiety

It is well documented that massage helps to calm the nervous system, thus reducing stress and anxiety. The gentle, slow strokes of (Swedish) massage work directly with the central nervous system to calm our entire being. Our breathing slows and deepens, our blood pressure reduces, our muscles relax, and thus our entire being relaxes. The effects of massager, especially for our pets, often last longer than the length of a session. A massage session also gives our pets a break. It brings them out of their own anxiety to a time of relaxation – a time just for them to settle. I know that is one of the reasons why I love getting a massage myself!

A Few Holiday Tips

As we move into the holiday season, below are a few simple reminders and tips. You know your pet best, so some of these tips may apply, and others not so much.

  • Have a separate, quiet space available for pets during busy holiday festivities
  • Place possibly toxic plants out of reach (holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia)
  • Keep all dangerous / poisonous foods away from pets (cooked bones, meat-soaked strings, chocolate, grapes, raisins, alcohol, sugary foods, artificial sweeteners, macadamia nuts, coffee, tobacco products)
  • Keep an eye on the holiday table and secure leftovers and garbage to prevent your pet from foraging among them
  • Avoid edible tree decorations – cookies, popcorn, cranberries, etc.
  • Keep an eye on the holiday table and secure leftovers and garbage to prevent your dog from foraging among the holiday foods
  • Tree needles, both fresh and artificial, can cause problems if ingested
  • Read about tree preservatives as they are often sugar-based (and inviting to dogs). Also, change the tree water often so it does not become stagnant and harbor potentially harmful bacteria
  • Be cautious with lights on lower tree branches, especially if you have a curious pet
  • Wires leading to tree lights or other decorations should be safely taped so they cannot be chewed
  • Watch the electrical cords – pets may chew them and get shocked
  • Be cautious with glass ornaments, which break easily and may cut a dog’s feet or mouth
  • Place candles up high so they are not accessible, or use battery operated candles
  • Keep wrapping paper, ribbons, strings and scissors off floors and low tables
  • Your dog may want to investigate wrapped packages; keep them out of reach
  • Always try to use chemical free cleaning products

I wish everyone a very joyous and festive holiday season! Give your pet (and yourself :)) the gift of massage! It will surely be a time of relaxation and calm for the both of you!

MehrKatHooray For The Holidays!
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What, Are You High or Something??!!

My Opinions on CBD for Pets

CBD (cannabidiol) is getting a lot of attention these days. For a number of years, I’ve been reading about CBD and dogs. Finally, after researching all of the wonderful benefits, I decided to try it.

I have a small dog with small dog syndrome. Plus, she suffers from high anxiety and fear, which sometimes leads to aggressive behaviors. It breaks my heart to see her struggling with this anxiety. Aside from positive training, we have tried many, MANY other remedies, both holistic and traditional.  And while her behaviors showed some improvement, she still suffered from severe fear and anxiety.

So, after reading about how CBD can help with anxiety, I decided to check it out. And what did I discover:  IT WORKS!
After taking CBD, my girl is much calmer and less fearful. People have even commented how different her behavior is (without knowing she has had some CBD). Don’t get me wrong – she is still fearful, but it is noticeably less.

When we first started, I started her out on the low end of the recommended dose, but this was too much for her. I ended up cutting her dose way down. So, what I learned is to start below the recommended dose and work my way up.

I recently read an article in Dogs Naturally Magazine that gives some great information about CBD for pets. Below are some of the highlights from the article, but I encourage you to read the whole article yourself!

10 Things You Didn’t Know About CBD Oil For Dogs

  1. CBD is not psychoactiveit’s a compound found in cannabis & hemp. It contains no/very little THC, so your dog won’t get “high,” but will get all the benefits without the intoxication
  2. CBD oil reduces anxiety
  3. CBD can fight cancer & help increase the effectiveness of cancer meds
  4. CBD can treat seizures & epilepsy
  5. CBD relieves pain & inflammation
  6. CBD can help with inflammatory bowel disease
  7. CBD reduces chronic inflammation & autoimmune disease(s)
  8. CBD protects the nervous system & helps with neurodegenerative diseases (& is especially good for senior dogs)
  9. CBD increases appetite & helps with nausea
  10. CBD promotes cardiovascular health

A Few Additional Notes. CBD is:

  • a powerful antioxidant, more powerful than vitamins C & E
  • legal (for dogs) in all 50 states
  • has antibiotic properties
  • safe – numerous studies show that CBD appears to be safe, even when taken in high doses & over extended periods of time
  • side effects are mild & animals don’t appear to build up a tolerance

Not All CBD Oils Are The Same – Choose A High Quality Oil!

  • Buy organic
  • Don’t cheap out: The higher the quality/purity, the higher the cost
  • Get the analysis of the amount of CBD in the product – it makes a difference
  • Make sure there is little or no THC in the product

Important Notes To Consider

  • Talk with your vet about CBD
  • Start your dog off low &slow
  • Buy CBD as a tincture: it’s easier to adjust the dose in a tincture

So….How Does This Relate to Massage?

In my practice, I see a lot of anxious and/or fearful pets, both chronic and acute conditions, and sometimes even aggressive pets. Before a session I will often use put a few drops of CBD  on my hands, or offer some to the guardian to give to his/her pet. I also recently purchased a room spray to try.

For me, CBD oil has been a great addition to both my dog, and at times in my practice. Please remember, this is all my personal experience and opinion – I am not a vet, nor do I play one on TV 🙂

Thanks for checking in!

 

MehrKatWhat, Are You High or Something??!!
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NO! Not A Muscle Spasm!

OUCH! Most of us have experienced the sudden pain of a muscle spasm. A muscle spasm can wake us from a deep sleep, keep us from activity, and can happen wherever there is muscle mass. A muscle spasm is a sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle, or group of muscles, that causes pain and even inflammation. Spasms can affect the whole muscle, large parts of a muscle group, or even neighboring muscles. They usually occur suddenly, cause a visible twitching, usually resolve quickly, and are almost always painful.

Pets and Muscle Spasms

In our pets, muscle spasms are easily noticeable as a localized twitching or tremor in a muscle that feels tight and tender to the touch. Muscle spasms can be caused by a variety of conditions including overexertion, muscle strains or injuries, dehydration, pain in the back or legs, protecting an area from further injury, allergies, neurological disorders, or a physical injury. They may also be an indication of a more serious condition, such as a pinched nerve, a slipped disc, or muscle damage.

Since our wonderful pets want to make us happy, your companion may hide the fact that she is experiencing a painful muscle spasm. This is especially true of smaller muscle spasms. However, when they are severe, the muscle may bulge, and even vibrate, will be visibly noticeable, and/or felt under the skin at the site of spasm. When we humans get a pain like this, we will often stretch and massage the area ourselves. But for a pet, this new pain can be both traumatic and confusing.

How Massage Can Help

 

It is always best to consult your veterinarian first.
Once the vet has ruled out any serious conditions, MASSAGE can help! Massage will assist the muscle in relaxing. while also relaxing the surrounding muscles. A variety of techniques, including gentle stretching, will be utilized to relax and “unwind” the affected muscle(s). Other areas in the body will be assessed to see if tightness is occurring anywhere else. Massage will also assist in bringing blood and necessary nutrients and proteins for healing to the area so healing can occur.

If muscle spasms continue, not only will your pet be in pain. but the affected muscles may cause your pet to avoid using them resulting in muscular atrophy and weakeness. Massage therapy is perfect for these issues, preventing this to occur, or at least reducing their severity.

As a preventative, massage can be used to warm up the muscles before any exercise, and also in the cool down process following activity. Another important factor in preventing muscle spasms is to make sure your pet is well hydrated, especially when the weather is hot, or during activity and exercise.

Thanks for reading! Please contact me with any questions or to make an appointment!

*Disclaimer: No dogs were harmed in these photos. Both were happy to help!

 

MehrKatNO! Not A Muscle Spasm!
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Teeth Brushing and Massage…HUH?!

February is National Pet Dental Month. To celebrate, let’s talk about how massage can help your dog with this healthy task.

From personal experience, I know how difficult it can be to brush a pet’s teeth. On the flip side, it can also be a very satisfying task, for both you and your pet.

Many pets, especially those who are unfamiliar with teeth brushing, will twist and turn to avoid that dreaded tooth-brushing experience. Your companion will clamp his/her mouth shut, all the while turning his head and neck, raising her head up high, and wiggling her whole body, all to avoid the teeth-brushing . OUCH!!

Massage to the Rescue!

Before starting the teeth brushing, use massage to help relax your pet. One wayto help your pet relax is to gently rub her face starting between the eyes where the snout meets the face, then back to the middle of her head. Gently rub the ears, starting at the head and working your way down. Do this slowly, reassuring her quietly, for a few minutes until she calms down.

At any point, if your pet does not calm down or gets upset, stop the process and try again at another time.

Start by desensitizing your pet’s mouth. If your pet is not comfortable with having his mouth/muzzle touched, start by gently massaging his face and ears. Choose a quiet, non-stressful location and time and begin by gently rubbing your dogs face and ears. As your pet becomes comfortable with having her head, ears and chin touched, move on to touch her muzzle, then her lips. Try small circles on the muzzle, gently rub the length of the muzzle, over the gum line, and stoke in a downward pattern from the top of the muzzle down over the gums and teeth. You can even try using a soft cloth or a super soft baby hair brush to brush the outside of the muzzle. The goal in doing this is to not only relax your pet, but also get her used to the idea of touching the mouth area.

Teeth Brushed, Now What? More Massage of Course!

Following the teeth brushing, an at-home mini massage is beneficial, especially for those pets that twist and turn to try and escape the dreaded teeth brushing. This twisting and turning can result in sore, tight neck and shoulder muscles.

Begin by once again gently massaging your pet’s head and muzzle. Using an open flat hand and gentle pressure, slowly proceed from the back of the head, under the jaw, and down the neck. Continue by gently going down the shoulders to the front of the ribcage. This slow, gentle pressure over these muscles should help your pet relax. This may even help your pet associate something wonderful with teeth-brushing!

Thanks for checking in! For more information or to book an appointment, email Katie at katie@therightspotpetmassage.com

Thanks to MyDogLikes (http://mydoglikes.com/brushing-blue-bones-dogdentalhealth/) for the awesome phote of the dog with the toothbrush! Thanks to my girl Lucy for posing for the other pictures!

MehrKatTeeth Brushing and Massage…HUH?!
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This Cold Weather is Ruff!

There is no mistaking it, the winter cold weather is here. For those of us in the Midwest, we had a short reprieve of warmer winter weather…but not anymore! Welcome to the cold winter months!

Just step out into the cold to know that cold weather affects us all physically. This is true for our four legged companions as well. When we go out into the cold, it can be a shock on our system – we shiver, muscles tense, teeth chatter, and our body tightens. Our pets can have a similar experience. Going from a warm house out into the cold air is a big change.

In A Nutshell  
In normal circumstances, blood vessels transport warm blood from the internal organs to the skin. When the body gets cold, the blood vessels closest to the skin’s surface shrink in order to reduce heat loss, which also slows the blood flowing through the vessels. Next the shivers begin, which are muscle spasms designed to generate body heat. These spasms can occur in any muscle of the body. Therefore, when the body gets cold, muscles tighten / contract, leaving our muscles feeling tight, stiff and cold!

Tighter muscles and less blood flow restrict the movement of the muscles in the body. Joints also tend to feel tight, stiff and locked, especially if the joint is already compromised from a previous injury or arthritis.

Beware of the Ice!
Another concern in these cold winter months is ice. Slipping on ice is such a danger! So, not only are our muscles already tense from being cold, add slipping on top of that and the result is messy!

While many public areas use salt to melt the ice, salt can burn your pet’s paws. And while there is pet friendly salt available, many public places do not use this. If your pup suddenly lifts his paw while walking, check to see if salt and/or ice have gotten lodged into his paw pad.

Massage Can Help!

 

 

 

So, what can we do to help our companions during these cold winter days? Massage of course! Massage warms and relaxes the muscles of the body. Massage can take those tight muscles and gently encourage them to relax, stretch, and return to its normal state of rest. Massage also gets the blood flowing back into the contracted muscles and joints, improving the overall feeling of comfort in the area. If your pet slips on the ice and it results in pain, tenderness, or a soft tissue issue, massage can help alleviate the pain and inflammation in the area while also supporting other areas in the body that may be affected.Two simple massage techniques for warming your pets muscles before or after going out into the cold are:

  • Rubbing the body – gently rub your fingers and/or palm over your pets body (avoiding the spine) to increase the blood flow to the body. This is especially good over the large muscle groups of the leg (“thigh), along the back, about an inch from the spine, the neck, and the shoulders.
  • Light compressions – using the palm of your hand, lightly press and release the large muscle groups of the shoulders, hind legs, and neck. Be gentle, this is a light compression not a squeeze! This acts like a pump to get the blood moving in and out.

A Few Winter Thoughts

  • Dress for the weather – use a dog sweater or coat if necessary. Both of my dogs have fine fur and get cold easily. They don’t go out in the cold without their sweaters on.
  • Keep the paw pads (and nose) moist – this cold weather can cause your pups paw pads and nose to crack. Rub some organic, virgin coconut oil on these areas of the body. Coconut oil is great! It is a wonderfully healthy oil that will moisten the pads and nose of your pet. It is also safe (and healthy) for dogs to eat, so if your pup licks it off, no worries
  • PAWS Boots – I love these! They look like rubber balloons, but they are for your dog’s feet. They are lightweight, so not as cumbersome or awkward as some of the other boots out there. On a personal note, when my lab was older and began slipping on our wood floors, I put these on her in the house to prevent her from slipping. They were great! She no longer slipped, and she was much more confident in walking and standing.
  • Make your own paw wax – there are many great paw protectors on the market, but I recently came across this recipe on the internet posted by Rodney Habib (and from Dr. Karen Becker):
    In a pot melt: 3 oz. beeswax, 2 T coconut oil, 3 oz calendula oil, and 3 T avocado oil. Pour into a small jar, tin, cupcake mold, etc. Let cool and harden. Rub on the paw pads before venturing out! Note: this may be greasy, so don’t apply in the house or your pup could slip and/or get rugs, furniture, beds, etc. greasy.

Wishing you and your companions a safe and Happy New Year!

 

MehrKatThis Cold Weather is Ruff!
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Thoughts From A Canine Massage Therapist

When I tell people what I do for a living, I am met with a variety of responses – excitement, acceptance, laughter, shock…Many people still have no experience with canine massage and have no idea that it is a “real” profession.

Animal massage has been around since very early times. I think most people are more familiar with equine massage due to horse racing. But dog massage? C’mon…
The fact is, dogs are living much longer lives these days. Advances in surgeries, better medicines, advances in veterinary approaches and knowledge, and more folks trying alternative therapies have all led to our companions living longer, healthier lives. Animal massage is just one more aspect of helping our pets live longer, more comfortable, and higher quality lives.

Here are a few facts about canine massage:

  • To become a certified canine massage therapist takes training. I went to school and learned about anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and all sorts of other body related subjects. I am always seeking to learn more about our companion animals – specific illnesses that affect them, how nutrition affects our pets, and other healing modalities that complement my work.
  • There is a national board exam animal massage therapists take. Although not required at this time, in my opinion it is important that canine massage therapists be held to a high standard. After all, we are dealing with a living being.
  • A canine massage therapist is different from a human massage therapist (LMT). While we both have similar muscles, the anatomy of a four-legged animal (quadruped) is different from a two-legged human (biped). I would never assume that because I am a small animal massage therapist I could therefore be a human massage therapist (that is, without further training in human anatomy). It goes both ways.

People often say to me, “I massage my dog/cat at home, why should I bring her to you?” Massaging your pet at home is great! There is no doubt you are not only bonding with your pet, but also helping him/her to feel better.

However, my education and experience have given me knowledge and understanding of many conditions that can affect our companion animals. I feel for tightness, sore areas, disharmonies, and other issues that the pet’s body may be indicating as problem areas.

My hope is that more and more people understand why massage can help their pet live a longer, healthier life. For those of us who understand the benefits of massage for ourselves and notice a difference in how we feel following a massage, please know – this also is true for your pet!

Thanks for taking the time to read this!

MehrKatThoughts From A Canine Massage Therapist
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A Beautiful Golden Boy

wrigleySo probably the worst thing about my job is when a beloved friend (some say clients) makes his/her transition. Last weekend a wonderful, sweet, gentle, and kind golden retriever made his transition. Wrigley was a bit older (12) but had the spirit of a much younger dog. He was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago, had his spleen removed, and was given a few months to love. Wrigley wasn’t ready to go, and outlived the expectations by quite a bit. His quality of life was fabulous, and he received amazing care from his people, his holistic vet (herbs, acupuncture, and chiro), and weekly massages. He passed quickly with grace and dignity, the way we all wish it to be. I will miss him, but will see him again on the other side. Rest well, sweet Wrigley!

MehrKatA Beautiful Golden Boy
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Why Pet Massage? Simply put…

In my work, many of my clients are looking for alternatives and additions to their traditional vet care. Massage is one of those alternatives. Massage helps ease muscle pain, arthritis, edema, injuries, high blood pressure, anxiety and stress, etc.  by working with the whole body system. By working with the whole body, I can feel where pain may be, and work with that area as well as surrounding areas that also may be affected. As with most humans today, pet massage is not simply a luxury, it is a way of helping your pet feel better, move better, and learn how to respond better. Think about it–you know how much better your body and mind feel after a massage, the same is absolutely true for you pet!

MehrKatWhy Pet Massage? Simply put…
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Meet Benny!

This past Monday, I had the honor of working on an amazing young foster dog – an amazing Pit Bull that had been rescued from a truly tortured life.

“Benny was used as a bait dog in his early life. His abusers poured bacon grease down his back to entice the other dogs. When rescued, he had an embedded collar, fear and trust issues. Despite his rough beginnings, Benny grew into a wonderful, loving boy.”

Loving doesn’t even begin to describe it! Benny bounded into the room, gave me many kisses, and lay right down to let me know he was ready for his massage. What is most amazing to me is that after a year or more of unspeakable abuse, this dog is able to still love, trust, and be full of joy. More people who only know Pit Bull’s as being a “fighting” breed should meet Benny. Pit Bulls may be strong, but they are extremely smart and sweet. Pit Bulls are not born to fight or be bad, people instill that into them.

Meet Benny the smiling wonder dog!

meetbenny

Thanks Lisa Davis for the wonderful pictures!

MehrKatMeet Benny!
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Piper the Flying Reindeer

Again, I know this post is overdue – actually from December, but it’s too cute not to share.

Here is a picture of one of my clients – Piper. Piper is an amazing little Sheltie who knows one speed – FAST!! She is a fabulous agility dog. Here is Piper’s Christmas card! Too cute!

piper4

MehrKatPiper the Flying Reindeer
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