It’s surprising how little it takes to cause a mobility imbalance. Sure, its very noticeable when you dog is bouncing around and they make a “yelp” that causes you to turn your head to see if that noise actually came out of your dog! What you see is your best friend coming towards you with a limp. This time you know he has twisted, sprained, or (hopefully not) broke something.
Other times, its not as noticeable. When I am out with Amelia and her sister Bodhi the vizsla initiates play with her, on occasion Bodhi can be a little rough; she is running circle around Amelia, dodging and weaving…now it’s no secret that a bernese mountain dog is not built for agility. They are designed for low centre of gravity and strength. So when Bodhi runs straight for Amelia and Amelia quickly twists her head and neck to avoid Bodhi, I know that it’s a very high possibility that Amelia may have caused a micro strain in her neck. This can cause tension, heat, and even, if left untreated, can lead to compensation pain or discomfort in other joint in her body.
Dogs are sneaky, they like to hide their pain or discomfort. They are lucky to have 4 legs rather than two. This means when they hurt one leg, they have the option to shift their weight onto the other three legs, for the most part its can be subtle or exaggerated. When it’s is exaggerated you will notice. They will have a head bob, or a distinct limp, or even have one leg raised of the ground, but what about the subtle stuff?
When I am driving down and I see a dog walking on the street beside the road, I often wonder does their person know that there dog is shifting their weight when they walk? Or one step further, that this is something Bowen therapy can help with?
When I watch your dog move, I’m not always looking for the obvious signs of discomfort or pain. I am also watching for the subtle cues. Your dog’s tail is one of them. You can tell a lot by their tail. How they are holding it, how tight it is, where it branches off from the body, does it sway evenly or hug tighter to one side?
I then watch fur patterns, if your dog has an irregular fur pattern that can sometimes indicate they have muscle tension or spinal misalignment. When I look at Amelia’s head from behind, I can tell if her TMJ is out of alignment by the pattern of her fur and the evenness of how her muscles are resting on her parietal bones of the skull.
**This is a video of Amelia when she was recovering from a left shoulder injury when she was bouncing and jumping in mud and her leg slipped out from her. The day of the injury she was had exaggerated symptoms of head bobbing an reluctant to put weight on her left front leg. After confirming with her vet that it was a muscle skeletal issue, I simply did Bowen therapy on Amelia and her body was able to relax and bring healing to itself.**
Now all this information is not meant for diagnosing. I am not a veterinarian and that is not what my job is. This is for information gathering purposes, so that I can assess which non-invasive Bowen moves will be of most benefit for your dog. I have a “Bowen tool box” of gentle moves to make up a treatment plan for your dog to help add in helping the body to recover on it’s one or to ease compensation pain or long term discomfort.
As the story I shared with Bodhi playing with Amelia causing her to jolt her neck, left untreated would often result in Amelia have heat, difficulty moving, a visible headache (just like what happens to people) and the unevenness of her jaw muscles. In these situations, by doing what we call Rescue response or Resonse5 in Canine Bowen Therapy I am able to communicate with the body quickly and effectively and restore balance. Thus Amelia goes on to be happy and healthy and to play away with Bodhi without missing a step.
I have now worked on many dogs, with muscle strains, pulls, and even several with long standing muscle injury that was not responding well to muscle relaxers and other medications. When their people found out about Bowen they gave it a try and often within 2 sessions the dog’s muscles and fascia was about to leg go and heal.