Holistic Health and Longevity Course for Dogs Chapter 8
In PARTS 1 to 7 of the course, we went through the following topics: The first principle for good health, Hair testing, Detox and cleanse, How to keep your dog safe from conventional drugs, Mineral deficiencies, Comparison of whole food vs. synthetic vitamins and The pinched hose principle.
Last time, I talked about energy flow in the body and how it can be compared to the watering system in a garden.
When the garden hose gets pinched or twisted, the carrots and tomatoes do not get water and wilt away.
Similar to a garden energy, nerve and blood flow is super important for your dog to thrive. If the flow slows down or stops in a particular spinal segment, the skin, muscles, and organs that come from this segment commonly become diseased.
How do these energy blocks happen?
Here are some of the most common reasons for' “flow" blockage:
1. Early age misalignments
These abnormalities are formed due to your dog's genetics during pregnancy or birth. The position in the uterus, as well as the process of being born, may cause a misalignment.
Puppies are also carried by the mother from place to place. Sometimes, they are dropped, or the mother may accidentally lay on them.
Puppy bones, joints, and other connective tissues are very flexible and resilient. However, that does not mean they will all align back to an ideal state when they misalign. In nature, this is part of the process of natural selection, but dogs are lucky to have us because we can help them.
2. Accidental injuries
Dogs are adventurous and fun-loving creatures. If they don’t want to play, there is usually something wrong already, but play and fun lead to tumbles, falls, flips and slips that cause undetected injuries.
It is quite common that even dogs that go through a very severe trauma, such as being hit by a car, are rarely assessed for spinal misalignments.
Injuries usually lead to various degrees of muscle spasm, which results in decreased energy, nerve and blood flow. This can lead to serious organ disease or even cancer.
3. Exercise and repeated obsessive activity
Over the last several decades, many lucky canines have been promoted to VIFMs (very important family members). Many dog lovers take the wellbeing of dogs very seriously, and walks and exercise are the measure of our dogs’ quality of life.
In the past, dogs were not walked enough, but today many dogs are injured by exercise that is too severe and does not align with the natural movement of dogs.
Some of the most injurious activities are:
- Ball throwing
- Road or downhill biking
- Excessive swimming
- Repeated leaping and jumping on ground or in water
- Leaping and running in deep snow
- Frisbee play
As you can see, a few of these activities above have a link so you can learn more about why they are not optimal, especially when they are repeated over and over.
Ideally, your dog's exercise should be as close to their natural patterns as possible and no wolf, coyote or dingo chases 100 rabbits (balls) in the span of 40 minutes on a daily basis. They do not leap up in the air after 50 ducks taking off in the air (frisbee). Mountain biking with dogs is also another activity that causes injuries and excessive wear and tear on dogs.
These are just examples that demonstrate how injuries, imbalances and muscle spasms along the spinal column can happen. Similar to tennis elbow injuries in tennis players, dogs suffer injuries from repeated movement, especially if it is not natural or if the frequency of a natural movement is higher than what is optimal. The more obsessive or wild your dog's nature is, the more likely he or she is to suffer from these types of injuries.
To summarize, it is all about balance.
4. Collar injuries
This type of trauma is one of the most common causes of energy flow decreasing. Energy flow dispatches from the center of the body. The energy flows up to the head and down to the rest of the body.
Based on the ‘pinched hose principle,’ a collar that is too tight or tightens up when a dog pulls decreases the energy flow to the rest of the body. If the energy flow is restricted, this affects the skin, muscle, and organs that are below this restriction.
You can click here for more information on collar injuries here.
5. Injuries from lack of exercise
I mentioned injuries from over exercise, and now it is time to pay attention to dogs that are not active enough.
Let me share my personal experience. Generally, I am quite active, but from time to time, I used to suffer from slight to moderate muscle inflammation and spasm around my back. This changed completely when I started taking core strengthening exercise and spinning in addition to my dog walking and yoga.
Balanced and diverse exercise is the key to preventing injuries in people and dogs. If the exercise is one-sided, some muscles get strong, but others weaken. The best case scenario would be if we let dogs engage in natural activities like playing, hunting, roaming and resting, but that is not possible for most dogs in the modern world.
6. Deficiencies of essential nutrients
People often forget about one last part of injury prevention, and that is optimal nutrition. In part 5, I talked about why minerals are the key to building strong and resilient body, and in PART 6 I wrote about the difference between vitamins and how to choose them.
Omega oils are also important for reducing inflammation and studies have confirmed that EPA (eicosapentaenoic) has a comparable anti-inflammatory effect to NSAID drugs. The difference is that Omega oils have no side-effects and NSAIDs have many side-effects.
If you want to know what essential supplements I use for my dog Skai, click here.
The vicious cycle of injuries
When it comes to people or dogs, repeated injuries lead to more spasms and weakness. Lack of exercise also leads to weakness and spasms. The best way to prevent injury is finding the right balance between too much and too little exercise and reduce or avoid the most injurious activities. And the other important part is ensuring no injuries are missed.
How to know if your dog has an undetected injury
In the upcoming PARTS of this course, I will be focusing on describing the common medical conditions related to each spinal segment.
Today, my plan is to teach you how to carefully examine your dog's spine and find injured and blocked areas of your dog’s spine.
How to examine your dog’s spine:
- Straddle your dog to position his or her head away from you.
- Place your palms on each side of the front part of your dog’s neck with thumbs connecting just at the ridge of the spine.
- Find the first cervical vertebra just behind the skull and press with your thumbs in each inter-vertebral depression. Your thumbs will fall naturally into these dips.
- The amount of pressure can be compared to making a dip in a tennis ball.
- If your dog is in discomfort, she or he will either twitch the skin, move away, dip down or look back.
- With a little bit of practice, you can also detect the inflamed regions of the spine by detecting a higher temperature of the skin and tissue.
- Some dogs will also have thinner hair or even severe hairless spots in the injured regions, and some will suffer from hotspots.
If you detect an injured segment, my suggestion is to see a chiropractor, physical therapist, animal acupuncturist and also consult with a holistically-minded veterinarian.
Learning how to prevent injuries is one of the key skills to create a healthy and long life for your dog.
Stay tuned for an upcoming article in the Holistic Health and Longevity Course for Dogs that will discuss energy flow to your dog’s head and health conditions you can prevent.
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM