Combining therapeutic massage with Photizo Vetcare

Study highlights the effects on dogs with Elbow Osteoarthritis combining therapeutic massage with Photizo Vetcare

by Anna Webb on behalf of Photizo Vetcare
Broadcaster, Author, Trainer has studied natural nutrition and therapies with the College of Integrated Veterinary Therapies (CIVT)

Since Photizo Vetcare launched in 2013 its popularity has soared amongst Animal Physiotherapists, Vet Nurses, Vets and complementary practitioners nationwide.

The Vetcare’s success in practice has encouraged research in the field of LED sourced red and near infrared Phototherapy.

Apart from Photizo Vetcare’s success at offering pain relief and promoting healing across a host of musculoskeletal conditions, it also succeeds in healing wounds. Another aspect is its ability to release dopamine and oxytocin, and lower heart rate.

Animal/Veterinary Physiotherapist, Harriet Kitcat of PhysioMyDog specialises in holistic hands-on treatments on dogs covering in and around Frome, Somerset & Woking, Surrey. Treating every dog as an individual Harriet tailors her Physiotherapy treatments with Acupressure, Massage, Myofacial release, Reiki and integrates therapeutic equipment such as Photizo Vetcare where appropriate.

Her inspiration to change careers to become an Animal/Veterinary Physiotherapist came after her own dog, Jenson a Golden Retriever, needed rehabilitation after TPLO surgery for a partial tear of his cruciate ligament.

Harriet explained: “Back then with Jenson I was a regular dog owner who wanted to do the best for my dog. I noticed how much Jenson benefitted from physiotherapy and hydrotherapy sessions. His overall demeanour changed, lameness became more subtle, his back less roached, and he generally moved with more ease. This observation coupled with my thirst for knowledge inspired me to learn more. I became a Canine Massage Therapist originally to help Jenson, which led to becoming a qualified Animal/Veterinary Physiotherapist so I could help more dogs move and feel better.”

Sadly Jenson passed away aged five, but he left a legacy. Harriet is determined to spread awareness on what owners can do to help their dogs. Factors such as weight control, diet, exercise management and other therapies such as physiotherapy can help successfully manage conditions such as Osteoarthritis.

It’s a team effort with the owner, vets and therapists working together, as well as anyone else involved on a day to day basis with the dog, such as other family members, dog walkers etc.

When integrating Photizo Vetcare as a complementary tool into Harriet’s handson treatments, apart from noticing that she can work deeper into affected areas, Harriet has also noticed a calming effect.

She explained: “one of the side effects of Photizo is its ability to help relax dogs. I was intrigued by this consistent effect that helps initially during a treatment, which led me to conduct a research project for a deeper understanding of how by combining therapeutic equipment and massage can influence conservative management of elbow Osteoarthritis in dogs, both physically and psychologically.”

The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of therapeutic massage and Photizo Vetcare’s LED sourced red and near-infrared light therapy on dogs diagnosed with elbow Osteoarthritis.

By measuring their elbow passive range of motion to see how the dogs’ movement improved and their heart rate to see how this improved their wellbeing.

Harriet’s study focussed on three Labradors and three Golden Retrievers all over two years old, weighing between 20-40 KG.

Every dog and owner participated under veterinary consent having been diagnosed with elbow Osteoarthritis, but not operated on.

Some cases were not on any medication, whilst others had been taking pain relief for two months or more. Importantly every dog maintained its normal diet and routine during the research period and didn’t take part in any other forms of therapy ie hydrotherapy.

Exercise was prohibited an hour prior to the treatment sessions, and Harriet ensured that the environment for treatment remained the same for each dog.

The dogs were divided into two groups, and each dog benefitted from three sessions lasting around an hour, spaced seven days apart.

Group One began with combined Photizo Phototherapy and Massage, whilst Group Two used Photizo Phototherapy only.

The three sessions were distinctly recorded and comprised: Session Onemeasurements only; Session TwoPhotizo Phototherapy and Massage or Phototherapy only; Session three - both groups had Massage only.

Before and after each treatment session details of the individual’s heart rate and passive range of motion (elbow extension and flexion) were recorded.

Additionally, owners completed daily questionnaires to grade how their dogs were moving and feeling on a day to day basis.

The results were very interesting. Each dog showed improvement but the Massage Only sessions showed a bigger reduction in heart rate resulting in improved wellbeing and the Massage and Phototherapy combined sessions revealed greater improvements in the passive range of motion, resulting in improved movement.

Whilst both groups saw a larger reduction in heart rate from Massage Only sessions, there was also a significant reduction from both the combined Photizo Vetcare and Massage session, and the Vetcare only sessions.

Harriet explained: “I was so happy to see how every single dog benefitted from the sessions and some of the results were amazing. Some dogs saw over 30% improvements in their range of motion and reduction of heart rate of up to 25%. Looking at the individual results some preferred and benefitted from massage only and others improved more from the combined use of Photo and massage. It was interesting to see individual results as overall patterns.

The owners also reported great improvements, which was heart warming. They were asked to grade their dogs before and after sessions and all of them noticed positive changes in their dogs’ movement and wellbeing. Typically, the dogs were more playful, getting up and moving around more, had more energy and wanting to sleep less. The owners were happier and so were the dogs! Whilst this is a small-scale study, it certainly underlines the power of massage and Photizo applying red & near-infrared light working to successfully manage osteoarthritis."

Ruth Milner, MD of Photizo’s sole UK distributor added: “Studies on dopamine release and oxytocin effects on animals are currently extremely limited. However, there are many anecdotal reports from practitioners and animal guardians who have definitely observed how Photizo has a positive calming effect on animal patients, especially when it is initially applied to painful or tense area, so it is ideal to use prior to and combine with manual therapies.

Studies like Harriet’s are vital and although there has been extensive peerreviewed research on physiological effects, we know there is still a lot to learn about the expanding field of photobiomodulation (particularly on the calming effects). PBM is the term that describes the chain of bio-chemical reactions stimulated by an evidence-based dose of red and near-infrared light”.

Whilst this study is the first of its kind on Photizo Vetcare’s potential to reduce stress by lowering heart rates in dogs, it offers insight into the potential of integrating Photizo’s Vetcare that’s not only limited to physical conditions, but to help psychologically too.

To learn more about Photobiomodulation, Danetre Health’s Phototherapy 1-day CPD course will help any animal health practitioner or enthusiast with working or performance animals to get up-to-date about the published research and facts on PBM.

For more information about 2020 course dates, check out the events page on or email [email protected]

For more information on Photizo Vetcare:

For more information about this study and Harriet Kitcat: