Highly trained canine essential workers are being forced into earlyretirement due to hidden pain or trauma, according to veterinarian, Dr EdwardBassingthwaighte.

These canine workers play vital roles in the lives of their owners and thebroader community. From helping people to see, offering general assistance,providing protection, security screening, or helping with livestock – thesedogs represent a huge investment. The record price for stock working dogs inAustralia is $35,200.

Dr Bassingthwaighte, or The Healing Vet as he’s otherwise known, says thephysical strain on these dogs mirrors that of Australia’s frontline workerswith constant impact on joints, bones, and soft tissue strain, which can leadto pain and early retirement if undetected.

“More than half the dogs that come under my hands in the vet clinic havesignificant soft tissue pain that their humans don’t know is there,” says DrBassingthwaighte, who specialises in releasing “silent pain” in dogs.

“I have worked to help rescue and assistance dogs who had soft tissue pain asa vet. After our hands-on treatment, we see these dogs regain mobility, becomehappier, more active, better able to focus on and do their incredibly valuablework doing what they do best – helping humans have a better life.”

Dr Bassingthwaighte also highlights that these dogs can also suffer fromhidden trauma and PTSD, particularly in search and rescue, army, and policedogs.

“They see horrific, violent situations, and as we’ve seen recently withprotestors, projectiles at them. This sort of violent and stressful situationscan have a profoundly negative impact on the animals in terms of trauma. Theyoften become anxious and are then retired due to what are labelled‘behavioural problems’, when really, the problem is the underlying pain andstress associated with their work.”

Hidden pain or trauma in dogs can present in a number of ways:

  • Slowing down, unwilling to work (A lot of people think this is normal ageing)
  • Unable to jump in the car or on the couch
  • Changes in behaviour (grumpy, avoidant, depression)

Dr Bassingthwaighte says that bodywork can be healing for both the physicaland psychological trauma experienced by working dogs.

“I believe many working dogs are retired earlier than they need to be, due to‘hidden’, ‘silent’, undiagnosed soft tissue pain. Imagine how much it couldbenefit the dogs, and the people they serve, if their guardians could learnhow to find and treat soft tissue pain in their working dogs with intentionaltouch?

“Any pet owner can learn this and it’s a great way to repay the loyalty of ourhard-working essential canine workers.”

Tagged: Assistance dogs

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