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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Therapeutic Bodywork for Pets

Jun 01, 2015 01:19AM ● By Mary Oquendo

Every year, Americans pay billions of dollars for veterinary care with the majority of the costs spent on reactive care. Instead of proactively keeping a pet healthy, it is a panicked rush to the veterinarian – where the cost is higher to hopefully return your pet to a state of health.

Preventive care is actively taking charge of your pet’s health. It includes diet, exercise and veterinary wellness exams. Hands-on and hands-off bodywork can also be as therapeutic for pets as it is for humans, potentially reducing the need for some other clinical intervention.

Hands-On Therapies

Acupuncture is a component of traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncturists insert needles or use electrical impulses in specific points along the energy channels. These channels are also called meridians. These channels can become blocked due to illness, injury, poor diet and toxic environments. Acupuncture stimulates pain-relieving endorphins, releases neurotransmitters to the brain, increases blood and energetic circulation, and unblocks the meridians so that energy can flow freely throughout the body. In addition to being used for respiratory, skin and gastrointestinal illnesses, acupuncture can be beneficial for spinal injury and disease and musculoskeletal problems – such as arthritis. A trained veterinarian should perform acupuncture on your pet.

Acupressure is similar to acupuncture except that is not invasive. Acupressurists use gentle pressure at specific points along the meridians with their fingers or crystal wands. There is specific training involved for animal acupressure.

Massage therapists manipulate soft tissue and muscles to speed healing of injuries, strains and sprains and reduce the corresponding pain and swelling. At the same time, massage increases joint flexibility and range of motion and improves circulation and oxygenation of blood.

Physical therapy uses various techniques, including water and specialized equipment, to increase function and mobility of joints and muscle. Physical therapy can reduce pain and speed recovery from injury, surgery and degenerative and age-related diseases.

Hands-Off Bodywork

Examples of hands-off bodywork include Reiki and crystal therapy, which are considered energy work.

Energy work strengthens the channels of energy that flow throughout the body, as well as in the energy field commonly referred to as the aura. When these energy channels become blocked, it can lead to illness and disease. Unblocking them allows your pet’s natural healing abilities to restart. When used in conjunction with modern medicine, medications and procedures are also amplified. Energy healing has been practiced for thousands of years. In fact, many major hospitals have complementary departments that work with modern medical professionals.

With crystal therapy, crystals are placed on or around the body. Crystals have a measureable frequency and emit vibrations. It is these vibrations that affect a body’s electrosmagnetic field, as well as breaks up blockages along the meridians. Specific crystals are chosen based on the needs of the pet.

Reiki is a Japanese technique in which a practitioner directs energy to a blockage and clears it. The ultimate in hands-off bodywork is distance Reiki. Think of the energetic field that surrounds you and the planet as a communication system, our personal worldwide internet. A level 2 practitioner can tap into that field and send Reiki anywhere in the world. Pam Pollard of Hands And Paws-Reiki For All in New Milford likes to do distance Reiki on animals as they as going to sleep for the night. “I find that as animals are entering a naturally restful state, they absorb the energy readily,” she says.

Energy work can help with chronic conditions and behavioral problems, while speeding the healing of injuries and surgery and boostsing the immune system. In addition, it can help a pet transition over the Rainbow Bridge.

Most states do not license animal acupressurists, Reiki practitioners, or massage, physical and crystal therapists. Ask a potential therapist about their training.

Including bodywork in your pet’s wellness program is as important as diet, exercise, environment and modern veterinary care.

Mary Oquendo is a Reiki master, advanced crystal master and certified master pet tech pet first aid instructor. She is the co-owner of Hands and Paws-Reiki for All. She can be reached at See ad, page 48.