Bodywork Techniques for Dogs and Cats

Bodywork is any therapeutic technique that involves working with the body. It aims to assess and improve posture, promote awareness of the body-mind connection and assist healing of musculoskeletal conditions and acute injuries. We are qualified and registered practitioners in both myofunctional massage and bowen therapy for animals. 

Left untreated, injuries or muscle problems may lead to a restriction in movement, behavioural changes, limping and an altered gait. Other signs include:

  • Difficulty standing up, laying down

  • Prefer to lay down on one particular side

  • Have difficulty turning around

  • Muscles twitch when touched

  • Resisting being touched (when use to like it)

  • Sudden onset of licking a particular spot e.g. paw, leg

  • Stop or slow down on a walk (may also indicate other health problems), prefer to walk not run

  • Difficulty jumping on/off furniture or in/out of car

  • Hesitate before moving, tire easily, unusual panting (not a hot day, no exertion)

As therapists we first assess your dogs gait and palpate the soft tissue and muscle to assess your dog's muscle tone, identify any areas of pain and inflammation and deviations in anatomical function. We then use myofunctional massage or bowen therapy to improve circulation and muscle elasticity, restore muscle function and promote healing.

Benefits of Bodywork

  • Improves movement and joint range of movement

  • Improves lymphatic flow and boosts the immune system

  • Increases circulation and elasticity of connective tissue

  • Increases nutrient uptake

  • Avoids muscle spasm and prevents adhesions

  • Improves blood vessel integrity

  • Reduces possibility of scar tissue (fibrosis)

  • Assists the body eliminate waste and toxins

  • Reduces pain and inflammation

  • Assists recovery from surgery and slows down muscle wastage

Contact us to book a bodywork treatment for your dog or to purchase a treatment, click here to go to our store

Canine Myofunctional Massage

Myofunctional massage is an effective therapeutic massage therapy used to prevent and assist healing of musculoskeletal conditions and acute injuries. It is recommended for dogs of all ages but is especially advised for senior dogs, dogs with degenerative conditions such as hip dysplasia and arthritis, post-operative recovery, performance and working dogs.

Canine Bowen Therapy

Bowen Therapy is a dynamic bodywork technique that can be applied to dogs and cats remedially or holistically. It is relatively gentle, can be very relaxing and empowers the body's own healing resources achieving balance and harmony, resulting in fast and lasting relief from pain and discomfort. Bowen is an all embracing vibrational energy therapy which is safe to use on any person or animal, from newborns to the elderly, with positive responses to musculoskeletal pain and imbalance, sports injuries, acute or chronic complaints. Bowen Therapy is a modality used in Australia and worldwide to treat a range of conditions today. 

A Bowen move is a gentle transverse, cross fibre soft tissue manoeuvre applied as a single move to a given location before moving onto another location, it does not use forceful manipulation. These specialized moves are applied at specific point locations over muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia to promote relief from musculoskeletal and related neurological complaints. The fascia, or soft tissue, is the part of the connective tissue that envelops, separates and influences every organ and tissue in the body. These precise but gentle movements stimulate the body, via the nervous, endocrine and fascial systems, to activate the body’s own healing mechanisms to promote homeostasis of the body tissues and systems; and allowing toxins to be released. Bowen moves are specifically designed to work on the meridians and trigger points at the same time to restore balance to all facets of the animals persona being mental, emotional and physical.


As Bowen therapy works on the fascia it often successfully treats persistent problems that have not responded to medication or other bodywork therapies. It is believed Bowen moves stimulate the proprioceptors in muscles and other tissue, which initiates a brain response and in turn sends nervous system messages back to the fascia to normalize the resting rate of tissues and increase lymph movement in the area, which enhances tissue repair.


During a Bowen treatment on an animal, the therapist may apply a wait of 30 seconds to 2 minutes between moves, this allows time for the body to respond to the treatment and for the integration of the messages and the nervous system response for the necessary changes to occur in the body before commencing the next sequence of moves. 

Using a series of precise gentle hand movements on the soft connective tissues of the body to promote relief from musculoskeletal and related neurological complaints, including acute sports injuries and chronic pain by stimulating the nervous, endocrine, circulatory and musculoskeletal systems to activate the body's healing mechanism. 

Both treatments prevents injury, assists healing,  improves movement and maintains and restores anatomical function. Recommended for pets of all ages but particularly for performance and working dogs, senior pets, pets recovering from surgery or injury and pets with diagnosed conditions, including arthritis and sports injuries.


Low Level Laser Therapy

Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), also known as Laser Phototherapy (LPT), cold or soft laser or laser photobiomodulation is the application of a monochromatic (single wavelength), coherent (all waves travel in same direction), and polarised (beam is pointed in a specific location) light to injuries, lesions and areas of acute or chronic pain to stimulate healing, reduce pain and inflammation.

It is a non-invasive, non-toxic and painless treatment that improves tissue repair (including ligament, nerves, cartilage, and muscle),  accelerates blood circulation and diminishes inflammation quickly to promote wound healing, stimulate nerve function and reduce formation of scar tissue. More information on the benefits of laser therapy and the equipment we use can be found here.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

TENS electrotherapy targets the sensory nerves to assist in pain relief by blocking the pain messages to the brain. A TENS machine is a small battery operated unit attached to electrodes which are placed on the skin. The electrodes are placed at or near nerves where pain or trigger points are located. The machine sends pulses of gentle, low voltage electric current to the electrodes which stimulates the nerves and relieve pain. 

LED Light Therapy

LED light therapy helps the body to heal itself. The red light wrap has lights with specific wavelengths that are absorbed by the mitochondria of cells. The energy from the lights on the foam wrap increases the energy within the cell and that speeds up the healing process. The lights on the wrap are a specific wavelength which are delivered at a specific dosage. Using both red and infrared lights is beneficial because the wavelengths are absorbed by different depths of tissue, having maximum effect. The red light therapy pad we use has two specific wavelengths that research has shown to dramatically increase the rate of healing. The two wavelengths are in the visible red and near infrared spectrums. The visible red is effective for stimulating acupuncture points, releasing trigger points, treating wounds and infections. The infrared wavelength (not visible), penetrates deeper, which been shown to be effective in helping heal soft tissue injuries, joints and muscles.

The LED light therapy pad we use is available from Equine - Canine Light Therapy — According to "Gospel"...Equine Light Therapy®-Canine Light Therapy. They state that "the combination of the red and near infrared wavelengths work in concert to provide benefits for soft tissue injuries, inflammation, ligament soreness, tendon problems, sore backs, splints, strains, stifle issues, sprains, swelling, shoulder pain, hip pain, sore backs, sore necks, salivary gland problems, wounds, cuts, scrapes, arthritis pain and for trigger points and acupuncture points." 

History of Bowen Therapy

Thomas Ambrose Bowen, of Geelong, in Victoria, Australia (18/04/1916 - 27/10/1982) was the originator of what is now known as 'Bowen Therapy'. In his 20's, Tom successfully ran a Boys Club for the Salvation Army at Geelong West where he trained boys in various sport and helped with their injuries. It is thought this was pivotal in his development of manual techniques. While employed at the Geelong Cement Works Tom started helping out workers with bad backs and other ailments.  There is no clear evidence of where Tom learnt his moves from but during the 1940's and 1950's Tom became friendly with a man named Ernie Saunders who was a 'manipulator'  and highly regarded by Tom. They assisted each other by sharing ideas and learning osteopathic work. 

Tom started to develop his bodywork skills and developed his own methods of treating people with muscular skeletal problems. He began treating people with sore backs, necks football injuries and other muscular skeletal problems. In the early 1960's Tom felt it was time to make his therapy a full time occupation. Tom moved his practice many times over the years within Geelong and built up a very busy practice using his own style of Osteopathy work which we now call 'Bowen Therapy'. His practice was so successful that in the Webb Report of 1975 (a government report into natural health practices) it was found that Tom was treating 13,000 patients per year.

Tom applied his bodywork moves to people, cats, dogs, cows, pigs and horses. In 1972, the Australia College of Osteopaths and the South Pacific Osteopaths invited Tom to become a member of their associations, to which he apparently accepted.

Using a series of precise gentle hand movements on the soft connective tissues of the body to promote relief from musculoskeletal and related neurological complaints, including acute sports injuries and chronic pain by stimulating the nervous, endocrine, circulatory and musculoskeletal systems to activate the body's healing mechanism. 

Both treatments prevents injury, assists healing,  improves movement and maintains and restores anatomical function. Recommended for pets of all ages but particularly for performance and working dogs, senior pets, pets recovering from surgery or injury and pets with diagnosed conditions, including arthritis and sports injuries.