Jonathan Rudinger, a licensed massage therapist, got a call from a woman whose dog was depressed. The woman’s husband had died from COVID, and understandably, the dog was not the same.
Rudinger, who is the founder and president of the International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork, and who has over 25 years of experience, specializes in both dry and aquatic massage. He spent time with the dog at PetMassage in a Hydrotherapy pool. This allowed the dog to experience gentle flexion and extension as he moved through the 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 don’t have words for,” Rudinger said. He explained that aquatic massage allows for that nonverbal release.
The water temperature in the pool is set to 93 degrees and is sterilized with UV light rather than chlorine or salt water. Dogs are always in a life jacket, and held the entire time. “Hydrostatic pressure supports the tissues and every movement is enhanced and expresses a freedom not possible on dry land,” Rudinger, who works with dogs one-on-one, explained.
He recommends aquatic massage for dogs with arthritis, spinal compression, hip, hock and paw issues, but said it’s also great for canine athletes. “We focus on body toning and wellness maintenance. Agility dogs, and all sport dogs increase their flexibility, muscle tone, coordination, speed and strength.”
Puppies, partially paralyzed dogs, older and hospice dogs, and obese dogs all benefit from aquatic massage, and Rudinger works with referrals and per the protocols of veterinarians.
Rudinger worked with a 90lb boxer who suffered a spinal stroke and lost use of his hind legs. He came in once a week for aquatic massage therapy, and is now running around his backyard.
Another dog broke his neck and has been paralyzed since last Mother’s Day, but through the therapy done at PetMassage, is now kicking, swimming, and can sit up. Another dog, this one a farm dog that got stuck next to a gear shift in a tractor and had to have leg surgery, came in once a week for two months and is now up and running.
“I just love what I do,” Rudinger said. “Aquatic massage gives happy stories.”
Rudinger works with cats, too. “They love the water,” he said, and explains that aquatic massage gives house cats especially a chance to be intellectually stimulated.
“Regular massage sessions have brought my dog back to life,” said one client, whose 11-year-old dog couldn’t get up and down stairs or 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 animal massage schools in the country. The business will be teaching dry massage for one more year (all classes are filled), but moving forward, they’ll be focusing on aquatic massage.
Massage appointments can be made through the website, or by calling the office. Plan for 45 minutes for the first visit for temperament and gait assessment, goal and expectation setting. There is a full water session as well. After that, therapy sessions run for 30 minutes.
PetMassage is open Monday – Friday, 9-2pm. Located at 2950 Douglas Road, Toledo, OH, 43606-3501. Call: 1-419-475-3539 (Local & International), or text: 419-475-3539. For more information, visit the PetMassage Website, YouTube or Facebook page.