By Marjut Nieminen, Finland
Reflexlogy is one of the fastest growing methods of treating for humans. But reflexlogy also works with animals. This effect can be noticed, when you are treating dogs, cats, horses and other domestic animals using Animal Reflexology Methods (ARM). During ARM courses you will learn techniques to enable you to work with animals. I hope that you and your animal clients will have new alternatives for dealing with health problems through ARM.
Initially you should have a good knowledge of the anatomy, natural nutrition and behavior of animals; dogs, cats, horses, cows etc. When you have developed an awareness of the body and the normal behavior of animals, you are ready to start working with ARM. You will be amazed, how this approach gives good results in treating many animal problems.
You can use ARM to ease many problems in animals. The most common problems are moving problems, muscular stress, symptoms of the alimentary canal, hormonal and behavioral problems. These things are usually due to unnatural living sitation. The effects of stress can often be seen in animal behavior. Therefore a therapist has to be able to regognice these things as well.
Reflecology is a splended method for finding out what the underlying cause is, for exampel when an animal is limbing. Reflexology is very pleasent way of treating an animal who needs care; the therapist can make the ”diagnosis” and nurse at the same time. When an animal has severe problems, it its important, that a vet examines the animal. If the animal is injured in some way, consult a vet.
All kinds of mobility problems are common in dogs. Sometimes when a vet has examined the dog and he can’t find any reason for limbing or stifnesses, these dogs are referred to Natural Therapy Center ”Apila” where I am working. Often the animals have been X-rayed and ultrasound have been done. In these situations I know that the vet has not found any structural cause for the problem… Often when a dog is limbing underlying cause can be found inside the body through reflexology.
Quite often the liver causes the animal to have difficulty in moving. The liver may be stressed and overloaded by different kind of substances and additives nowadays. A liver may be tender to touch on the right side of the body or the animal can’t move normally. In these cases the therapist can do ”diagnostic” massage and examine the reflex areas. This can be done with a flat palm and with fingers. Signs of pain, heat, lack of coat or something else abnormal in an animal gives important information to reflexologist.
Inevitably it is important for the therapist to know something about the things which can cause liver problems in animals. Using reflexology alone will not help the animal get ridd of the discomfort, but reflexology helps the animal quicker recovery.
Nutrition is a factor which inevitably influences a dog’s health. In the last ten years, a great change has occurred in the way people feed their dogs: manufactured food has become the main source of nutrition for dogs. As a consequence, the daily additive intake has increased while fresh, unprocessed food has been nearly or totally excluded from dogs’ diets.
Through 1996 I conducted an inquiry about dogs’ ailments. Eating habits of dogs included in this survey also. I received information on 79 different aged dogs. Various chronic ailments were reported in 45 dogs, i.e. in 57% of the study population. Most of these dogs suffered from more than one condition.
The owners of these dogs answered the inquiries about their pets’ health and eating habits with the knowledge of a layman, i.e. without any medical competence. Each dog’s condition and the influences of nutrition on his health were evaluated in the dog’s home environment instead of by laboratory observation. I think this gives us a realistic idea of the health problems of each individual.
This survey showed that manufactured dry food is the main cause of ailments for dogs. Additives are widely used during manufacture, but the total amount of additives in commercial food depends on the type of soil and the land of origin of the raw material. On table 1 you can find problem–causing foodstuffs. Dogs get additives from other sources as well: for exampel medicines and vaccines in which the adjuvant usually is aluminium hydroxide. Adjuvants can cause local skin irritation at the site of injection or even lead to formation of an abscess. Signs of aluminium toxicity were first noticed in the 1940s when it was stated that aluminium administered in injections causes malfunctions of the nervous system and damages the CNS of animals. Vaccinations are, however, mandatory for any dog participating dog shows, competitions or other dog events. This is why dog owners should pay attention to the daily nutrition of their dog in order to decrease the additive intake. The most sensible solution to the problem is to feed the dog with food containing as little additives as possible.
The results of the survey show that dogs most commonly suffer from diverse behavioral disturbances. In all, 38% of the dogs had behavioral problems. The owners reported hypersexual activity, hyperactivity, stress intolerance, maladjustment, poor concentration, aggression, apathy, depression, timidity, stool eating.
The second most common of the recurring ailments seemed to be anal gland problems (27%). Of the subjects, 22% had ear infections, 20% suffered from itching and 20% had dandruff. Eye infections were reported in 18% of the dogs, 16% lacked appetite and 11% suffered from skin rash. Vomiting, limping and false pregnancies were each reported in 9% of the study population. Hair loss and recurrent diarrhea were each reported in 7%. Heart disease was reported in 4% of the dogs, and also 4% had epilepsy. As ”other problems” the owners reported e.g. dry coat, cough, lack of mass, hypothyroidism, prostate disorders and monorchidism.
Various behavioral disturbances were the biggest problem, and the next came anal gland disorders. The next urinating, itchy areas around the anus, the tail and the anal glands. An explanation for these co-occurrings symptoms – behavioral disturbances and problems in the anal area – can be found in neurology and cell metabolism. It it commonly known that dogs express their emotions with their tails. The limbic area of the brain regulating emotional life is connected to the pelvic area – i.e. the bottom of the tail, the rectum, the urinary bladder and the genitalia – with the tenth cerebral nerve, the Vagus nerve. The brain also communicates directly with different cells.
Various additives and heavy metals disturb the functions of the nervous system and the cell metabolism. I think it is possible that a dog strained with additives develops behavioral problems, anal gland disorders, ear and eye infections or difficulties with mobility. The condition of the liver, overloaded with various foreing substances, can be the underlying course for many problems.
An animal’s body tells a therapist many things; the position of the legs, the posture of spine, the condition of coat, eyes, the smell of the body and how the animal behaves. When you are examining the reflexareas of the hindlegs, you can find the organs of the body only if there is something wrong with them. Animals behavior changes when you are touching the reflexarea which needs treatment. So you must be careful, because a reaction can come suprisingly quickly. Usually animals don’t want to hurt a human, but accidents can happen if the reflex areas are painful and you are not prepared. All the time you are treating the animal you must be connected with that animal’s behavior.
Usually the best way to examine a small and a medium sized dog is when it is standing or lying on the table. You can work better when you don’t have to reach or bend yourself. Many times the dog or the cat will stand better if it is on a table. If the client is a big dog your working position is not so easy; you have to bend your knees on the floor. Horses are of course standing during the therapy.
During the examination of the basic reflex system on the hindlegs you can stand just behind the dog and let your hands do the work. Do this treatment while you are talking to animal with a low, calm voice. The owner of an animal can stand beside and hold the animal in the right position. In the picture above there is another therapist following the treatment and learning ARM. The reflexareas of dog’s hindlegs are shown in the picture below.
A young, two years old sheepdog has changed his behavior quite suddenly. He was easily irritated, especially with children, which had never happened before. The childrens parents were very worried about the dog’s behavior which was no wonder. If the dog bites, the results can be severe. The irritability was most obvious in the situation when a child came from the behind the dog and touched it on the loins. The dog howled and tried to snap. This has occured several times and the dog’s behavior was getting worse all the time. It was only a question of time when the dog would bite. The father of the family came with the dog to the therapy session. He told me that they have recently moved to countryside. The living conditions should have been better for the sheepdog, but now the dog’s behavior was worse than ever before. A month before the moving the dog had had several vaccines; against distemper, parvovirus, liverinfection, kennel cough and rabies. These vaccines has been given a few months earlier than they should have been. The move has caused much more work to the parents of the family, so that the dog mainly fed with artificial food. While I was examining the reflex areas of the hindlegs, the dog hawled and tried to snap. The reflexarea of the liver was full and large. I could feel it with my fingers. Also the right side of the body was tender to touch.
The change in the living conditions and the amount of the foreing substances due to too early given vaccines caused a crisis in liver’s cleaning system, I supposed. It is known that when the liver is overloaded, it can cause great irritability. And this dog showed it.
During the session the dog’s whole body was treated very gently. He just couldn’t bare heavy touch. Two weeks later, the dog’s owner phoned me and reported that the dog was nearly same as it was before the behavior changed. So we agreed that he will call if the symptoms reappear. It is now two years from this phonecall, and I haven’t heard about this dog.
I’d like to tell you about a cat, who was living in a city and was always inside. He was suffering from chronic diarrhea. Nothing helped him. This cat had had conventional medication by a vet and I had been treating him with reflexology.
Through ARM the areas which were giving problems could be perseived. Namely, the stomach and the rectum but also the small area of the mental stress on the cat’s paw. This cat had also been given some homeopatic medication, but nothing seemed to give him release.
The main problem in this case of this cat was the unnatural living conditions. He wasn’t able to live the natural live of a cat. He could never catch a mouse, and he had to live in close contact with humans all the time. There was a big conflict between the living situation and a cats’ normal, instinctual behavior. Cats are the most independent of all animals, and this cat was experiencing a huge amount of stress because of its unnatural lifestyle. It was destroying him, because his ability to absorb nutrients was insufficient.
The owner of this cat was able to make some radical changes in the cat’s life to relieve the stress. The cat got some mice every week, to catch and to eat, which is of course a totally natural thing for cats to do! He was also able to be outdoors with his owner every day. Since these changes were made the alimentary canal problems have disappeared.
In this case also ARM –treatment method gave the signal for the right direction to proceed. The area of mental stress was there on the cat’s paw to touch and feel. However, reflexology alone wasn’t sufficient to relieve this cat’s problems, but reflexology was the most important way to check the underlying reasons for its symptoms. Knowing the nature of animals, you can often find the right diagnosis as well as the solution for individual problems using reflexology.
It is quite easy to find reflexareas on animals which have toes. If an animal has only one toe like horses do, you must look the reflexes a little bit differently. In the picture below you can see a horse which had severe back problems for many years. It had been massaged several times without notable relief. I was consulted about troubles of this horse by phone. It was hard to diagnose the real problem without seeing the horse, so I did a homevisit to the stable.
This mare, which was a show jumping horse had a very painfull area on back between Th 10 – L6. Because of her problem, jumping was nearly impossible. The muscles of the back were tense and painfull. In addition the mare had had cough.
When examining the horse a great swollen area like a tennisball, above the fetlock joint was seen on both hind legs. Also the muscules in front part of the shoulder were hard and swollen.
So if you are looking at this horse through a reflexologist’s eyes, you can see that the lymfatic system is not working as it should. The block is in the chest. The ductus lymphaticus was obviously nearly closed. The treatment of the horse was directed to lymfatic area, and the painfull areas went away within a week. After that she could jump higher than ever before, the owner told me later.
When the therapist gives treatment for the whole body, it works very well with animals. You have to use your hands to explain the meaning of the touch: The touch is for the welfare of the animal. Usually animals get your message very quickly. During past eight years I have noticed, that the language of reflexology is familiar to all animals.
Dog breeder, nurse, human and veterinary reflexologistveterinary reflexologist.
For many years (1994 -) she has run a clinic specialised in the treatment of domestical animals.