“When the Man waked up he said, ‘What is Wild Dog doing here?’ And the Woman said, ‘His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always.”
Dogs have been a constant companion to mankind for thousands of years. Today it is estimated that there are around 9 million working and domestic dogs in the UK, with an estimated 24% of households enjoying the many benefits of dog ownership. One of the reasons they have secured their place in human affections is that in many ways, they are just like us.
Recent studies from Universities in Hungary and New Zealand have found striking similarities between the way human and dog brains process vocal information and even showed that dogs have an emotional response to a human infant crying. This may not come as a surprise to dog owners who will usually testify that Fido and Rover understand what’s being said about them really rather well (just mention a w-a-l-k!)
The similarities certainly don’t end there. The skeletal structure and basic physiology of a dog is the same as man and the joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles all respond to the same stresses.
I treat many dog owners for dog-related injuries. Elbows and wrists can be sprained throwing balls, muscles of the shoulders and back can get strained if the dog is pulling on the lead or suddenly bolting. Knee and back injuries can happen tripping over the dog or lifting the dog in and out of cars.
Dogs, just like us, can also suffer from muscle and joint problems which can give rise to pain, impede their performance and effect their quality of life in general. Pet dogs can easily get injured from simple activities such as jumping in and out of the car, chasing a ball, pulling on the lead or rough play. The physical demands with working dogs, such as sheep dogs, racing greyhounds, gun-dogs, or assistance dogs, place particular stresses on the animal’s structure. Think of the agility dogs, racing against the clock, turning and twisting at high speeds, over, under and around obstacles or how indoors, a dog can slide out on a polished wooden floor when fetching a toy.
Just like with us, issues can arise for various reasons such as falls, trips and injuries, or could be stiffness from doing something new or an increased work load. It could be that they are suffering from arthritic changes in their joints, or need help after a surgical procedure. Whatever the cause, they can greatly benefit from osteopathic treatment and manipulation.
Be it for human or hound, osteopathy is a system of treatment that uses gentle physical manipulation to remove tension and restrictions from the joints and muscles of the body in order to let the body heal itself. By working on the blood flow, lymphatic and neurological supply, osteopathy works alongside and in consultation with your vet to reinstate the natural order of the body and thereby improving general balance and function.
Fortunately osteopathy isn’t just about fixing the back and can help with any part of the body from head to toe or nose to tail.
Heather is a fully qualified human osteopath who has undertaken specialist post-graduate training in animal osteopathy. She is registered with the General Osteopathic Council and the Society for Osteopaths in Animal Practice.