Dog massage for quake-stressed canines

00:12, Oct 02 2013
Kathleen Crisley
SOOTHING STROKE: Canine massage therapist Kathleen Crisley gives a client a relaxing massage.

It's a dog's life when a pampered pooch can get a massage.

Canine massage therapist Kathleen Crisley began offering therapeutic massage for dogs after going to the United States to train.

In the year after the Canterbury quakes, Crisley saw more stress-related cases. However, she was now back to her core business of dogs in need of rehabilitation after injury or surgery, and older dogs suffering arthritis.

"I see a lot of dogs with ligament injuries, or that have had surgery, and it's about managing the condition. Arthritis and aging are at the top of the list," Crisley said.

Some dogs could not wait for her to give them their massage.

"I have got dogs that meet me at the front door. When I come, they are at the door, ready for their massage. If it makes them feel good, they will come back for more."


Crisley has never been bitten, but has been snapped at.

"When an animal is in pain and when you are assessing them, you have to be prepared. That's how they communicate."

Crisley also offers acupressure therapy which involves sending laser pulses through dogs' pressure points to help with energy flows in their bodies to stimulate endorphins that cannot be stimulated by massage alone.

Northlands Animal Care Hospital veterinarian Euan Purdie said physiotherapy and massage therapy were beneficial to both humans and animals.

"Especially for rehabilitation after injury or rehabilitation after surgery, and it's been clinically proven to be beneficial," he said.

Laser acupressure therapy was even better, especially for reducing inflammation and supporting healing, he said.

Crisley said she would not use her skills on a human.

"It's quite a distinct discipline. The anatomy is different from a human and how the body moves is very different even though some of the muscle groups have the same names," she said.

"When I first opened my practice, I had a bunch of human therapists contact me and ask if they could watch me work because they would love to do work on dogs. I said no, it doesn't work like that. I'm not trained to massage a human, so I wouldn't go and massage a human."

The Press