Thursday, April 22, 2010

Why Massage Your Dog?

Have you ever had a massage? If so, I bet you felt wonderful afterward! Even if you haven’t had a massage, chances are you know what it is; the manipulation of skin, muscles and joints for the purpose of affecting physical or emotional changes in the body. While massage for humans has been around for millennia, canine massage as a practice is relatively new. The benefits of massage on humans are well documented, so why shouldn’t the same benefits apply to dogs as well?

Studies show that consistent massage will enhance your dog's comfort, emotional stability, general fitness, and overall health. Massage on a regular basis may add years to any dog's life and delay the onset of old age. It is an effective tool to improve the physical, emotional, and mental health of your dog. Massage is focused time with your animal, completely different from casual petting, and has the proven ability to reduce stress and promote a feeling of calm in both you and your dog.

Massage is easy to learn, and becomes easier the more you practice. So how to you learn? You can buy a book, such as “Healthy Dogs, Your Loving Touch: Acupressure Massage for Your Dog.” You can buy a DVD, or you can take a class if offered in your area. Or you can simply try it. Just by gently stroking your dog focusing on helping him will give him some of the benefits of massage. Give it a try today!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Thoughts on canine massage

Now that taxes are done, I can get back to doing one of the things I love - writing!

I've been thinking recently about canine massage and why many people view it as a luxury rather than a necessity. In the human world, massage is routinely prescribed by doctors these days because the medical benefits are so clear and are growing daily. Why isn't the same thing true in the canine world? Why don't veterinarians routinely prescribe massage? Is it because we as dog owners can't feel the results the same way we can when we have a massage? Perhaps since our dogs can't tell us how good they feel afterward, we as humans don't have any conclusive evidence that regular massages can help. In the human world, massage can dramatically improve one's quality of life, helping give relief from pain and stress, increasing circulation and flexibility, removing toxins from the body, and much more. It's such a gift it gives us.

Why not give your dog the same gift? Learn how to massage your dog, and then integrate regular massage into your weekly routine. That's one of the big reasons I wrote my book "Healthy Dogs, Your Loving Touch: Acupressure Massage for Your Dog" - because I want to help people learn how to massage their own dogs. As I said above, the benefits are clear - give your dog a better quality of life starting today. It doesn't matter how old your dog is. Your dog will love it!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Pet

What do you think is the best gift you can give your pet? Could it be your love? Or your time? Those are definitely important, but I think the best gift we can give our beloved pet companions is the gift of health.

It begins with the basics, food and water. Provide only pure water whenever possible. Tap water can contain chemicals such as lead, arsenic, and nitrates. Then change your pet's water at least twice daily. Keep the bowl clean and in a place protected from dust and debris.

Strive to buy the best quality food you can. It is essential to feed your pet the proper diet, free of harmful byproducts and chemicals which can damage cells. As a pet owner, it's your responsibility to look past the pretty pictures of fresh cuts of meat and juicy vegetables, the cute commercials and the misleading, biased information about "proper nutrition" and question the statements made by the manufacturer. If you doubt any information or are concerned about a particular ingredient, research it and get the facts.

Exercise and play with your pet regularly. This is especially important if you have a dog. If you have a dog, make sure he is properly trained and socialized. Learn to massage your pet, and give him the emotional security he needs. An animal should be a part of the family and his well-being should be included in family decisions.

Beyond the basics, look at the cleaning products in your home and the fertilizers and other toxins on your lawn. Remove as many of those cleaning products as you can. If you want truly non-toxic and green cleaning products, please visit this website:

Look at the toxins you give your dog. Flea/tick and heartworm preventatives are toxic. I personally use a product called Flea Away on my dog and it works really well. It’s a natural B vitamin complex that repels fleas. I buy it from Greyhound Ranch Adoptions (, a rescue organization that takes in retired racing greyhounds and finds them loving homes. Part of the money for the product is donated to Greyhound Ranch. Don’t give heartworm every 30 days. Space it out to 40 or 50 days, depending on where you live. This will not only help your dog, but save you money!

There are many more things I can suggest to help you have a healthy, happy dog, but this is a start. Incorporate as many of these into your daily life as you can, and it can help your pet live a longer, healthier and happier life. Your pets will thank you for it!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Make the Most of Your Time with Your Dog
I was talking with a friend today and she mentioned how she has an agreement with her dog that her dog will live to be 24 years old. She asked how I could have a preference for bigger dogs which typically have a shortened life span. I told her we never know what’s going to happen in life. One minute everything’s fine, the next minute, not. One of my neighbors, a relatively young guy, was attending a conference in Haiti when the earthquake struck. He was at his hotel, which collapsed. He’s been missing since then. He has a wife and a child, and I’m sure they never expected this sort of outcome when he boarded that plane to Haiti. I’m sure they fully expected to grow old together.

Then, I reminded my friend about me and my husband – we have a large age difference. When we got together, we decided then and there to make the most of every day, because of our age difference, we didn’t know how much time we would have together. We figured if we had 5 years that would be great – we would take it and enjoy it. We’re lucky though because it’s now been 22 years and counting, and we still treasure the time we have together.

It’s the same with my dogs. A dog comes into our life as either a cute puppy or an adult, possibly a rescue. From the size or breed we have an idea of how long our dog should theoretically live. But that means nothing. Anything can happen. From getting hit by a car to cancer, the beloved dog we fully expect to have in our lives for18 years may die at five.

I don’t mean to sound morbid, but it’s my belief that we should treasure the time we have with our dogs because we just don’t know. Too often for example, we come home from work stressed and we don’t give our dogs the attention they crave after spending the day without us. Or we get busy with our lives and forget. There are many reasons.

But today, just for a moment, remember why you brought that special doggie soul into your life. Give them the attention they deserve. Take time to play, go for a walk, or watch a movie with your dog lying beside you on the couch. You get the idea – spend quality time with your dog. I think you’ll also find you become less stressed when you do.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Great idea if you’re thinking of starting to try to massage your dog!

One of the most important things to remember though is not how to do the various strokes. You will learn those strokes as you practice. What’s more important is to find a quiet time when both you and your dog are “in the mood.” Your dog must want to receive a massage, and you must be in the proper frame of mind to give a massage. You should be as stress free as possible, and not thinking of the kids, or what you have to cook for dinner, or how your day was at work.

When you have that time, find a place that’s quiet, and away from the kids and other dogs. Then relax, breathe, and focus. Set your full attention on your dog, and set your intention to help him stay healthy. Then place your hands on him. If you do nothing else than passive touch – placing your hands gently on various parts of your dog’s body – you have made a positive difference in his life. Congratulations!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolutions for You and Your Dog

I’m not much for making New Year’s resolutions; I figure I should be working on myself all year long instead of just once a year. But then I started thinking about my dog Yankee and wondering if I should make some resolutions that include him. What about playing with him more? What about better training? So with that thought in mind, here are just a few ideas if you’re looking for resolutions for you and your dog.

• Spend more time with your dog. Dogs are pack animals and want to be around us. (Isn’t that one of the reasons why you got a dog in the first place – to have him around?) For example, take him with you when you run errands, when you’re window shopping, at an outdoor restaurant, or going to the farmer’s market. Whenever you’re going to be outside is a perfect opportunity to take your dog along.

• Take him for longer walks or walks more often. This will not only help his health but yours as well.

• Engage his mind. Teach him new tricks, work on his training, or involve him in new activities that stimulate his mind. It helps to keep him young and vibrant. You really can teach old dogs new tricks!

• Help your dog lose weight if he needs to. Look at diet options, food changes and exercise choices to make sure he loses the weight. Being overweight is very detrimental to your dog’s longevity, so if you love him as I know you do, get tough and get the weight off.

• Look at opportunities to get involved in competitive events if you think your dog would be interested in that. It’s not about winning; it’s about stimulation, exercise, fun, and bonding with your dog.

• Regularly massage your dog. You’ll help him stay healthy and live longer.

• Involve your dog in therapy work and community service if you think he has the disposition for that. Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, children’s hospitals, reading programs, etc. are wonderful opportunities to volunteer with your dog.

I know I can work on several of these ideas for Yankee, and as one who doesn’t make resolutions, I will do my best to try to keep the resolutions I make about him. What about you?

Best wishes for a happy New Year for you and your dog!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Puppy? Think Again

Recently an acquaintance of mine told me with excited glee that they were planning on getting a puppy for Christmas. She was curious why I wasn’t equally excited. I asked her if she had really thought about it. To her defense, she and her family have done their homework, and have involved their children, so it’s not like Mom and Dad are making a hurried decision to appease the little ones with their desire to “have a puppy.”

But again, has she really thought about it? Does she have any clue about what’s involved in taking care of a puppy? Does she know it’s sort of like having another baby? I tried to educate her during our 30 minute conversation. First of all, I told her she needs to know she’s going to be getting up at 3am to let the new pup out to go potty. Puppies can’t hold it all night long. She will be doing this for several months. “Oh” she said, “I hadn’t thought of that.” Then she needs to make sure they take the little one out every couple of hours to help with potty training. If an accident occurs in their house, it’s not the puppy’s fault; it’s their fault for not paying attention.

Then there’s the issue of those sharp puppy teeth and the insatiable need to chew everything in sight. Don’t be alarmed if you aren’t watching your puppy and he chews up your favorite pair of dress shoes, or gnaws on the leg of your antique table. And that’s only the beginning. Puppies require work, they need training, walking, socializing, feeding, and other forms of care. It’s a huge responsibility, one that many people who bring home puppies are unaware of and unprepared for. And let’s not forget that puppies, who are so unbelievably cute when they first arrive in our lives, grow into dogs, often big dogs. If they aren’t properly trained while they’re still small, what once was such a cute trait now becomes a nuisance or a hazard. That’s why so many puppies brought home as Christmas gifts often wind up at shelters once they are a few months old.

So like my acquaintance, if you’re thinking of bringing home a Christmas puppy, please think again, especially if you are planning it as a surprise. Instead, talk to your family, decide on the type of dog you want, and do your research. If you must have a purebred puppy, research and find the best breeder you can find. Otherwise consider shelters. You can find any type of dog you want through various shelters. If you want a puppy, there are lots of puppies who are dropped off at shelters regularly. And finally, consider a dog who’s a bit older. Yes, you won’t be able to experience that “puppiness” but you also won’t have to deal with the challenges either. And you’ll have the joy in knowing that you’ve saved a dog’s life.