Health and Longevity Course for Dogs - Chapter 7
In Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 of the Health and Longevity Course, I wrote about the essential building blocks of your dog's health and what led me to formulate my own line of natural minerals and vitamins for dogs. But there is another key component to your canine friend's good health and long life and that is energy, blood and nerve flow.
Humans work hard to create what nature creates effortlessly
It takes a relatively short time to frame a typical North American house, but then it takes forever to install all the plumbing and wiring and do the finishing. Plumbing is what the blood vessels and capillaries are to the body and the electric wiring is the equivalent of nerves. Energy flow in meridians, described in Chinese medicine, can be compared to Wi-Fi.
The most fascinating part is that building a house takes a lot of hard work, while it takes zero effort for nature to build the blood vessels, nerves and the rest of your dog's body. The whole process is completely automated with effortless perfection!
One gets a better idea of how amazing the body is by studying anatomy. It's hard not to ask questions like:
"How do the blood vessels know where to grow, where to fork out, where to end and how to lead blood back to the heart?"
"How do the nerves know what part of the brain and spine need to be connected to the organ or muscle they control?"
These thoughts bring the realization of how clumsy and imperfect human efforts are when it comes to manufacturing and building anything. If nature was a home builder, the homes would build themselves!
Nature's template for construction
Nature uses the same design template across the whole animal kingdom in different variations.
If you look at a bee under a magnifying glass, you will see the clear segmentation of the body, where each segment receives its nerve supply and nutrient delivery. Another example of this segmentation is fish, where you see muscle segments are aligned in each vertebra of the spine. When you look at a salmon fillet, you will see the orange muscle is divided by whitish lines of fascia and fat.
Each of these segments has separate 'plumbing and wiring' - nerves and blood vessels that originate from the spine and aorta - the main artery of the body.
Your dog's body is quite similar, except the segments are much more difficult to see. In the process of evolution of extremities, the muscle and organ anatomy became rather complicated, but underneath the segmentation remains.
Each muscle, nerve and blood vessel is connected to a particular vertebra, which can be seen as a switch from the spine and aorta.
I often compare the body to a garden with a complex irrigation system. The spine and aorta are the 'pipes' and the outgoing blood vessels, nerves and energy channels are the 'water hoses,' or branches of the system.
The organs, skin and muscles are the garden bed that is 'watered' by these branches that are vital to their health, in the same way the carrots in the garden depend on the watering system.
The pinched hose principle
If some of you are chuckling at the terms I'm using, good for you for having a good sense of humor! But understanding the 'pinched hose principle' is one of the key components of health and I worry that without giving it a funny name, you would forget it.
What happens when you pinch or kink a garden hose? The water stops flowing and the carrots will wilt and grow very slowly. They need water to thrive.
Let's go back to your dog's body. The spine and aorta are the 'plumbing and wiring,' which branch at each vertebra to deliver blood, nerve and energy flow to the segments. These segments' health depends on good flow.
When the flow is good, the skin, muscles and organs related to the segment are healthy. When the flow decreases, it will soon turn into a health problem. This block in flow can be compared to the pinched hose.
How to recognize an injury
For a gardener, a leaky or kinked garden hose is relatively simple to detect. To find energy and flow blockages in the body requires a good understanding of the spine.
The spinal column directs the flow of blood and energy, the vertebrae serve as a support and the muscles ensure good alignment and stability.
When all is well and aligned, the flow of blood and nerve impulses are strong. But all dogs slip, slide and fall and some get injured more severely in accidents.
Then the spine gets misaligned or muscles get injured or strained from working extra hard to maintain spinal alignment and stability. Such injuries and strain lead to excessive muscle tightness, which leads to pinching of the nerves, blood vessels and energy flow from the spine to a particular segment.
How to recognize a spinal problem
There are several key symptoms when a spinal segment is injured or inflamed:
- Muscle tightness and pain
- Discomfort along the spine
- The area is warmer to touch
- The skin, muscles and organs adjacent to the segment are not healthy
Treating incontinence, diarrhea, stomach bloat and paw licking
Now that you know about the 'pinched hose principle' it's time to give you some real-life examples.
But before I do this, I want to repeat that if there is a decrease of blood, nerve and energy flow in the segment, the area will show signs of disease. That applies to hair, skin, muscles and organs.
Urinary bladder incontinence is a simple example. Often, this condition is blamed on lack of estrogen hormones, but I have been able to address it by treating the lumbar spine and without potentially carcinogenic estrogen hormones.
The treatment principle is simple. Most incontinent dogs have an injury of the last few lumbar spine segments. The muscles get tight and inflamed and pinch the blood vessels and nerves going to the urinary bladder sphincter. This results in weakness and dysfunction of the sphincter. The treatment must focus on the lumbar spine injury. I usually suggest a combination of exercise modification (no sprinting, high jumping and sliding), a homeopathic preparation for incontinence and using one of the spinal alignment techniques to release the muscle spasm, such as chiropractic, physical therapy, osteopathy or acupuncture. Click here for more details on urinary incontinence.
Another good example is chronic diarrhea. Most dogs with chronic watery diarrhea appear to have an injury in the mid portion of the lumbar spine, which relates to the colon. Often, these dogs are misdiagnosed with allergies. Click here for more details.
One of my favourite analogies of the energy lines is paw licking. Dogs that lick their front feet often have collar-related injuries. Nerves from the neck supply the feet, so neck injuries and muscle tightness cause an abnormal sensation in a dog's feet, which makes them lick. Once again, many of these dogs are misdiagnosed with allergies when the actual problem is neck and collar injuries. Here are a few links to articles on this topic:
- What you should know about paw licking and chewing
- Why dogs lick their paws - natural approach to treatment
- Choke, prong and shock collars can irreversibly damage your dog
The last example I am going to give you here is stomach bloat, a serious, life-threatening condition. Dogs diagnosed with gastric dilation often show signs of spondylitis, arthritic changes of the spine in the spinal segment that connects to the stomach, the space between the last thoracic and first lumbar vertebra. Click here for more information about stomach bloat.
A practical test of your dog's spine
Now that you've learned about the pinched hose principle, it is time for you to examine your dog's body. Stand your dog facing away from you. If you have a small dog, ask someone to hold his or her abdomen to ensure a nice straight alignment. If you have a middle-sized or large dog, you can gently squeeze the hips with your knees. Run your thumbs along the whole spine with the thumbs depressing at the dip of each vertebra. The pressure should not be severe, but strong enough to create a gentle pitting of the muscles.
If your dog flinches, looks back or appears to be sore, that segment is likely in need of an adjustment and release. Often, the affected region is warmer than the rest of the spine.
Thank you for reading Chapter 7 of the Health and Longevity Course for Dogs. Don't forget to share it with those you care about and if you have missed the previous parts, you can find them below.
In Chapter 8 I'll give you more details about spine and body part connections and how to treat many conditions using the pinched hose principle.
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© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM