PhysioMyDog Study

The effect of phototherapy and massage on the heart rate and passive range of motion of canines with Osteoarthritis in the elbow joint.

Animal Physiotherapist, Harriet Kitcat specialises in holistic hands-on treatments at her practice PhysioMyDog. Treating every dog as an individual, Harriet tailors treatments combining Acupressure, Canine Massage, Myofacial release, Reiki and integrates Photizo Vetcare where appropriate.

Her inspiration to change careers and study with The College of Animal Physiotherapy (TCAP) was after her own dog, a Golden Retriever named Jenson, needed rehabilitation after a TPLO surgery for a partial tear of his cruciate ligament.

Harriet explains, “Back then with Jensen I was a regular dog owner who wanted to do the best for my dog. I noticed how much Jenson benefitted from our prescribed physiotherapy and hydrotherapy sessions post surgery. His overall demeanour changed, lameness became more subtle, his back less roached, and he generally moved with more ease. This observation coupled with my thirst for knowledge inspired me to learn more. I became a Canine Massage Therapist to help Jenson, which led to becoming a qualified Veterinary Animal Physiotherapist.”

Sadly Jenson passed away aged five, but he left a legacy. And Harriet is determined to spread awareness about Osteoarthritis and how a combination of factors from lifestyle, diet and weight contribute to this debilitating condition.

When integrating Photizo Vetcare as a complementary tool into Harriet’s hands-on treatments, apart from noticing that she can work deeper into affected areas, Harriet has also noticed a dramatic calming effect using the device.

She says, “It’s almost as though one of the side effects of Photizo is its ability to relax often the most hesitant client. I was intrigued by this consistent effect that helps initially in treatment as an icebreaker. This led me to conduct a research project for a deeper understanding of how by combining therapeutic equipment and massage can influence conservative management of Osteoarthritis in the elbow in dogs, both physically and psychologically.”

The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of therapeutic massage when combined with Photizo Vetcare’s LED sourced red and near-infrared light therapy on dogs diagnosed with elbow Osteoarthritis, by measuring the dogs’ elbow passive range of motion and the dogs’ wellbeing as measured by their heart rates, and how the dogs’ movement improved.

Harriet’s study focussed on three Labradors and three Golden Retrievers all over two years old, weighing between 20-40kg. Every dog and owner participated under veterinary consent having been diagnosed with Osteoarthritis in the elbow.

“Some dogs saw over 30% improvements in their range of motion and reduction of heart rate of up to 25%”

— Harriet Kitcat, PhysioMyDog

Some cases were not on any medication, whilst others had been taking pain relief for two months or more. Importantly, every dog maintained its normal diet and routine during the research period. Exercise was prohibited an hour prior to the treatment sessions, and Harriet ensured that the environment for treatment remained the same for each dog.

The dogs were divided into two groups and each dog benefitted from three sessions lasting around an hour, spaced seven days apart.

Group one began with combined Photizo phototherapy and massage, whilst group two used Photizo phototherapy only.

The three sessions were distinctly recorded and comprised:
Session one – measurements only
Session two – Photizo phototherapy and massage or phototherapy only
Session three – both groups had massage only

Before and after each treatment session details of the individual’s heart rate and passive range of motion (elbow extension and flexion) were recorded. Additionally, owners completed daily questionnaires to grade how their dogs were moving and feeling back in their home environment.

The results were very interesting. Each dog showed improvement but the massage only sessions showed a bigger reduction in heart rate, the massage and phototherapy combined sessions revealed greater improvements in the passive range of motion, and improved movement.

Whilst both groups saw a larger reduction in heart rate from massage only sessions, there was also a significant reduction from both the combined Photizo Vetcare and massage session, and the Vetcare only sessions.

Harriet adds, “I was so happy to see how every single dog benefitted from the sessions and some of the results were amazing. Some dogs saw over 30% improvements in their range of motion and reduction of heart rate of up to 25%. Looking at the individual results some preferred and benefitted from massage only, and others improved more from the combined use of phototherapy and massage. It was interesting to see individual results as overall patterns.

“From a wellbeing perspective, the owners reported great improvements, which was heart warming. They were asked to grade their dogs before and after sessions, and all of them noticed positive changes in their dog’s movement and behaviour. Typically, the dogs were more playful and being more energetic and sleeping less. The owners were happier and so were the dogs! Whilst this is a small-scale study, it certainly underlines the power of massage and Photizo applying red and near-infrared light working to combat osteoarthritis.”

For full details of this study, visit PhysioMyDog.

We are extremely grateful to Harriet for sharing the results of this amazing work, which will help educate the pet owners and fellow practitioners of the potential benefits when integrating phototherapy into any manual therapy practice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *