Thoughts

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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Photos from The Miles for the Mothers – A Benefit for The Puppy Mill Project

So, better late than never! Here are some photos from the Miles for the Mothers benefit held in October 2012. These are all such wonderful dogs, and many of them survivors of the puppy mills. The Puppy Mill Project is working to not only help stop puppy mills from selling dogs, but also to help people understand the dangers of puppy mills.

puppy2013

MehrKatPhotos from The Miles for the Mothers – A Benefit for The Puppy Mill Project
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