PetMassage helps dogs with aquatic massage therapy
Jonathan Rudinger, a licensed massage therapist, received a call from a woman whose dog was depressed. The wife’s husband had died of COVID and, naturally, the dog wasn’t the same.
Rudinger, who is the founder and president of the International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork, and which has more than 25 years of experience, specializes in dry and aquatic massage. He spent time with the dog at PetMassage in a hydrotherapy pool. This allowed the dog to experience smooth flexion and extension as he moved through warm water. The results were so successful that the woman asked if the rest of the family could make an appointment.
“We have so many emotions that we have no words for,” Rudinger said. He explained that water massage allows this non-verbal release.
The pool water temperature is set at 93 degrees and is sterilized with UV light rather than chlorine or salt water. The dogs are always in a life jacket and held the whole time. “Hydrostatic pressure supports the tissues and every movement is enhanced and expresses a freedom not possible on dry land,” explained Rudinger, who works with dogs one-on-one.
He recommends aqua massage for dogs with arthritis, spinal compression, hip, hock and leg issues, but said it’s also great for canine athletes. “We focus on toning the body and maintaining well-being. Agility dogs and all sporting dogs increase their flexibility, muscle tone, coordination, speed and strength.
Puppies, partially paralyzed dogs, senior dogs and hospice dogs, and obese dogs all benefit from aquatic massage, and Rudinger works with referrals and according to protocols from veterinarians.
Rudinger worked with a 90-pound boxer who suffered a stroke and lost the use of his hind legs. He used to come once a week for aquatic massage therapy and now runs in his backyard.
Another dog broke his neck and has been paralyzed since last Mother’s Day, but thanks to therapy at PetMassage, he now kicks, swims and can sit. Another dog, this one a farm dog who got stuck next to a gear shift in a tractor and had to have leg surgery, came once a week for two months and is now operational .
“I love what I do,” Rudinger said. “Aquatic massage gives happy stories.”
Rudinger also works with cats. “They love water,” he said, and explains that water massage gives house cats a chance to be intellectually stimulated.
“Regular massage sessions brought my dog back to life,” said one client, whose 11-year-old dog couldn’t walk up and down stairs or get into a car without being lifted. The dog is now able to walk a mile and a half.
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PetMassage also offers training and is one of the oldest pet massage schools in the country. The company will be teaching dry massage for one more year (all classes are full), but moving forward will focus on water massage.
Massage appointments can be made through the website or by calling the office. Allow 45 minutes for the first visit for temperament and gait assessment, setting goals and expectations. There is also a full water session. After that, the therapy sessions last 30 minutes.
PetMassage is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Located at 2950 Douglas Road, Toledo, OH, 43606-3501. Call: 1-419-475-3539 (local and international), or text: 419-475-3539. For more information, visit the PetMassage website, Youtube Where Facebook page.