Natural treatment for dogs

November 5th, 2014
Your dog will appreciate these natural treatments!

Kylie Baracz discovers a Japanese thermal therapy for dogs that has been said to treat all sorts of chronic canine conditions. How does this natural treatment for dogs work?

Natural therapies are on the rise when treating canines, but there is one you may not have heard of. Known as Onnetsu heat therapy, this Japanese treatment is based on the principles of western physiology and eastern medicine and can provide great results.

“Onnetsu heat therapy is a form of thermal therapy that was developed in Japan by the late acupuncturist Tomeko Mitsui,” Tim Norris, physiotherapist and canine myofunctional therapist says.

“The therapy was originally developed to treat humans, but I have adapted the way I use Onnetsu therapy to work with dogs.”

How does it work?

The Onnetsu device is applied to the body of the dog on the area that is being treated, Norris says.

“There are different techniques of application depending on what you are looking to achieve, but usually stroking methods are used which help to comfort and soothe the dog.”

The heat transmitted influences the muscles, fascia, ligaments, bones, nerves and surrounding organs. It helps to stimulate the circulation of blood, lymph and the nerves to create a healing response to the area that is being treated.

“Studies have shown that the Far-Infrared emitted from the Onnetsu device can increase oxygen supply to damaged tissues and enhance the health of the cells, which can be beneficial in a range of degenerative conditions such as arthritis,” Norris says.

What ailments can it treat?

Onnetsu heat therapy can be beneficial for a wide range of conditions such as arthritis, spinal issues, paralysis and immune system disorders.

“Because Onnetsu can help to regulate the nervous system, there can be a flow-on effect to other body systems, helping to enhance the dog’s overall health and wellbeing,” says Norris. “It can have a positive effect on helping dogs recover from injury and after operations.”

Is this therapy suitable for your dog?

“I suggest firstly owners speak to their vet and see whether there are any other options they can explore,” says Norris. “Some vets have a good understanding of some natural therapies and can help recommend different approaches.

“I appreciate some people also see natural therapies as their first choice with some health issues. If that is the case, then whichever approach you choose, make sure that the person is qualified and insured and ask for recommendations and testimonials.”

Benefits of canine natural therapies

Tim Norris has been involved in the field of natural health and wellbeing for over 15 years and believes natural medicine can play an important part in helping our dogs maintain good health and function at their optimal level.

“I think there is a role for natural therapies to play alongside traditional medicine to help give our dogs the best of both worlds and give the owners a wider range of options to choose from to do the best for their dog.

“Sometimes natural therapies can be seen as the last option when a more traditional approach has been used but has not yielded the results that the owner has hoped for. I occasionally see situations where traditional medicine has not been able to do anymore for a dog, and sometimes the different approach that natural therapies offer can really make the difference.”

Norris’ business, Both Ends of the Lead, offers a range of rehabilitative approaches alongside Onnetsu Therapy to enhance the overall effectiveness for the dog when appropriate, such as stretching, mobilisation techniques and conditioning exercises to help strengthen muscles and improve movement quality.

There is also some useful information at which is updated regularly, such as the video series on how to stretch your dog safely.


One of Norris’ cases was Cruize, a Border Collie cross, who at just 12 months old, pulled up lame while playing with some other dogs at the park.

Vicki Miller, Cruize’s owner, assumed he had taken a shoulder slam since he presented with front end lameness and it was quite severe. He was literally hobbling along.

Cruize was initially prescribed with anti-inflammatory drugs and complete rest for two weeks by the local vet.

“We resumed gentle walking exercise after two weeks but Cruize once again began hobbling, and so it was back to the vet and a further two weeks of anti-inflammatory drugs and rest prescribed,” says Vicki. “The vet believed it was a soft tissue injury to the shoulder since there appeared to be no obvious fracture or tenderness to the leg or paw that was presenting lame. While soft tissue injuries can take quite a while to heal, we were planning to take an x-ray if the problem was not showing some improvement within this subsequent two-week rest and inflammatory medication treatment period.”

Vicki competes in agility with her other border collie, Bo, and had met Tim Norris at a number of trials in the past where he had set up an information and treatment booth onsite.

“Tim had given Bo a massage and a general check over at one of these trials and I was impressed at the time with his knowledge and holistic approach to the prevention and treatment of injuries. I had also heard such positive feedback from friends and fellow competitors who were clients of Tim’s. In fact, it was one of my training buddies who suggested that I take Cruize to see Tim for his opinion before embarking on any further traditional treatments and x-rays,” says Vicki.

Norris examined Cruize and chose to use Onnetsu Therapy. “Cruize is a very healthy young dog who had no health issues at all until recently when he suffered some lameness that was affecting his movement quality.

“I chose to use the Onnetsu therapy on Cruize because I found a sore reactive spot to the side of his spine which was not responding quickly when I used some muscle tension release techniques. I have found that the Onnetsu therapy works well with many of the muscular issues I work with, particularly if they are slow to respond to initial treatment.”

Remarkably, Cruize showed dramatic improvement after one treatment. He was no longer hobbling around and keen to get moving!

Norris wasn’t surprised the therapy worked, however he didn’t think it would be so quick. “I have a lot of confidence in the Onnetsu therapy based on some great results I have seen. However, it still amazes me that something so simple can have such an effect,” he says.

Three weeks of rest had taken its toll on a very active Border Collie pup.

“I stretched and massaged Cruize daily, as demonstrated by Tim, and he had a follow-up treatment one week later,” says Vicki. “The lameness had completely disappeared by the second treatment and has never returned. Interestingly, the issue causing the lameness was not in the shoulder or leg region that was presenting lame but at the rear end of the spine on the opposite side of the body. This was in line with the vet’s observations about the area presenting lame not being sensitive to manipulation or stretching.”

After watching the transformation that Cruize had, Vicki can’t recommend Norris’ treatment highly enough.

“I would recommend Tim absolutely and without hesitation. The results speak for themselves and I know I am not alone with the success that I’ve had with Cruize’s treatment. Several of my agility buddies see Tim regularly to keep their beloved sports performance dogs in tip top physical shape,” says Vicki.

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