An Intro to Tui-Na Massage Helping Dogs and Cats
As a Dog and Cat Mom, I’m always looking for ways to improve my pets’ health and behavior, and my connection with them. I often find myself lightly massaging Dexter The Dog and lightly rubbing Nutter The Cat‘s head and neck. There are various forms of pet massage, including deep tissue, Tellington TTouch, flexibility, and Tui-Na. Whether you are looking for a deeper way to connect with your pet, or you are looking for something that can mentally or physically heal your pet, massage may be able to help.
Today, I had the pleasure to speak with Michel Selmer, DVM, CVA, CVCH, CVFT about Tui-Na manual therapy, or Chinese bodywork. Dr. Selmer specializes in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, acupuncture, naturopathy, and Tui-Na. I thought he would be the perfect person to speak with about how Tui-Na, often pronounced “twee na,” can assist our pets.
Tonya Wilhelm: What exactly is Tui-Na and how it can be used in pet care?
Dr. Michel Selmer: Tui-Na is a Chinese manual therapy often used for prevention and/or treatment of disease in pets. The Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine practitioner will use various techniques which are applied to acupuncture points, meridians, and/or limb movement and stretching. Tui-Na is based on the fundamentals of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Tonya Wilhelm: That’s very interesting. How is Tui-Na different than other forms of pet massage such as Tellington TTouch?
Dr. Michel Selmer: I am not very familiar with “TTouch,” but from what I do know it compares to Tui-Na as they are both composed of techniques that resemble therapeutic massage. Tui-Na is used to move Qi and blood and relieve pain, to regulate the internal Zang-fu functions and to restore the balance of Yin and Yang. It is based upon the fundamentals of the TCVM, Five Element theory and Eight Principles. I am not sure what medical background or philosophy the Tellington method of TTouch originated from.
Tonya Wilhelm: Would Tui-Na therapy help a pet with anxiety?
Dr. Michel Selmer: Most Tui-Na techniques are considered sedating/relaxing when done with strong stimulation and low frequency. Cases like with Project Hope (dogs rescued from dog fighting), in which there is a Shen disturbance that may stem from Liver Qi stagnation and/or a Heart Yin/Qi deficiency, can be treated with Tui-Na techniques by stimulating acupuncture points and channels, which then lead to promoting Qi and blood circulation as well as helping to regulate Yin and Yang imbalances.
Tonya Wilhelm: For anxiety, do you ever use Tui-Na and not acupuncture, or do they need to go hand in hand for anxiety?
Dr. Michel Selmer: Depends on the case and the patient. Can use them both as stand-alone treatments or in complementary use. Sometimes I will do acupuncture in the office and then teach the owner some Tui-Na techniques to do at home in between acupuncture treatments.
Tonya Wilhelm: This sounds like it would benefit a lot of pets. Is this something a pet owner can learn to apply at home or is this strictly something only a veterinarian should perform?
Dr. Michel Selmer: A Veterinarian that is Certified as a Tui-Na practitioner is trained to apply Tui-Na to the patient as well as teach the owner techniques they can do at home.
Tonya Wilhelm: Are the results immediate or do they show over time?
Dr. Michel Selmer: It truly depends. Sometimes we see immediate results and sometimes they take time. Either way, the patients enjoy the treatments as it feels good.
Tonya Wilhelm: Are there any pets not appropriate for Tui-Na?
Dr. Michel Selmer: Contraindications of Tui-Na include, any fracture site, very old and/or very weak patients that may become depleted by vigorous therapeutic manipulations, pregnancy, any site of a mass/tumor, injured skin, dermatitis, infectious and contagious (zoonotic) diseases, and within 30 minutes of a meal.
Tonya Wilhelm: How does a pet owner of veterinarian know if the treatment is working for a particular pet?
Dr. Michel Selmer: You will know if Tui-Na is working if whatever the concern is improves. The practitioner will be able to assess if a pet is a good candidate for Tui-Na.
Tonya Wilhelm: One last question. Is Tui-Na something that both dogs and cats can enjoy?
Dr. Michel Selmer: YES!
After my interview with Dr. Selmer, I am energized to learn more about Tui-Na and how it can benefit pets with physical and mental alignments. I look forward to talking with him in a future post about how Tui-Na paired with acupuncture can assist dogs and cats with anxiety.
In the meantime, I wanted to point you to Project Hope. Dr. Selmer is asking other TCVM practitioners across the country to join him in providing acupuncture and Tui-Na pro bono to traumatized dogs waiting for their forever homes. You can read about Hope’s story and her amazing recovery below.
- Project Hope
- Dr. Selmer’s Veterinary Hospital: Advanced Animal Care Center, Huntington Station New York
- Dr. Selmer’s Facebook Page: The Caring Vet
Do you massage or rub your pet? Tell me in the comments.
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