I recently had an interesting conversation about Reiki for dogs and it made me think about why people might not understand, or believe that, Reiki could be a worth-while investment for their companion animals. Someone was looking at my list of services and asked "Reiki for Dogs? What would Reiki do for a dog?" My response? "Well, it does the same thing for dogs as it does for humans".
What does Reiki do? Well, it is channeling the Universal Life Force Energy. This energy is all around us, in the plants and trees, in our phones and televisions. Everything is made up of energy. Sentient beings are affected by energy all day, every day. And, in short, Reiki helps us balance the energy imbalances in us, or, with the right intention, it can affect and balance the energy around us, in plants, trees, the earth and animals.
Let's look at the definition of sentient.
able to perceive or feel things. "she had been instructed from birth in the equality of all sentient life forms"
synonyms:(capable of) feeling, living, live; conscious, aware, responsive, reactive "any sentient creature should have the good sense to avoid something so dangerous"
To the first part of the definition, anything with a central nervous system is considered a sentient being. All animals are able to perceive and feel things. They perceive what is safe and what is not, they feel pain and joy.
To the second part, all animals are capable of feeling and they are conscious, aware, responsive and reactive to their environment.
Now, if we look at why humans (sentient beings) seek out Reiki treatments, the most common reasons are usually to reduce stress & anxiety. Other reasons include easing grief & fear, supporting the immune system, recovery from illness or injury, assistance with chronic problems and for pain relief.
We know that animals are sentient beings, we know that they feel pain and they are 100% responsive and reactive to their environment. Animals can also have all kinds of illnesses, similar to ours and, it stands to reason that if we feel gross because of a condition, they will too. Veterinarians wouldn't have access to all the medications that they have if animals weren't affected by pain and illness. They are much better at hiding their discomfort than we are, but it's still there.
Domestic animals are generally bombarded with almost as much stress and anxiety as humans are on a daily basis. Dogs, for example, are put into sports, competitions, show rings, daycare etc., and are often over stimulated. Urban dogs live in a society that has so many rules where their natural canine behaviours are undesired by humans. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against sports or properly run daycares, but we do have to take these things into consideration. Stress, whether it's good or bad, takes it's toll on everyone and we all need some time to recover from these instances. If they're happening non-stop with no time in between to relax and let the adrenaline drop, cortisol levels remain high. Human or animal, this is not a balanced lifestyle.
Keeping with dogs as our example, the average adult dog requires 12-14 hours of sleep per day. As they age, they will require more. If your dog has habituated to your sleeping patterns, they will get a good chunk of it at night, but the remainder of that sleep must be made up for during the day, usually in the form of naps. If they are super busy pups, think about the amount of rest they are getting in a day. Is it enough? When they are awake, what kind of stressors are they subjected to? Do you have a busy house? Do you train a lot or participate in sports with them? Are they a dog with anxiety or fear issues? If they are, how often are they stressed out from the environment? Remember, there is good stress and bad stress, but, the same as with humans, the more often and longer you are operating on high, the more reason for some down-time and relaxation. If you have a canine athlete at home, Reiki might be a good addition to your routine to help with increased relaxation. It can also aid your conditioning activities or recovery from an injury.
Now, lets talk about anxiety and fear. 99.9% of all reactivity in dogs is related to fear. Most fearful dogs can have a tendency for anxiety or anxious behaviours. Even dogs with no fear issues can exhibit anxious behaviours from time-to-time. I have worked with several dogs, including my own, on their fear and anxiety and have seen some awesome results. Most humans who receive Reiki for anxiety report a lessening of these feelings and the increased ability to calm themselves or be more calm in general. Again, the same can be applied to dogs very easily – our sympathetic nervous systems operate exactly the same.
How about ageing? We all know that as we get older, we get more creaky and achey. You've woken up in the morning with a stiffness somewhere new, or can only sit in a certain position for a while before a joint starts hurting. I know you have, because I have. I am 38, I have been taking Yoga weekly for the last 4 years as part of my regime to help with chronic lower back issues. I played a lot of sports when I was younger, I was a "tom boy" growing up and probably fell out of a few trees and did some stupid things on my bike. I've had a couple of car accidents and have been hit by a car. I have a sedentary job where I sit in front of a computer most of the day. Sometimes, my joints hurt. Reasonable, right? My dogs are seniors now and even the younger one, at 9, gets up from nap like an old man after a playful day. My oldest female is 13.5 and is now permanently on pain management. She's lost a lot of steam in the last year-and-a-half, it's hard for her to get up after laying down for a long time and she can't jump like she used to. There is pain medication for animals because they do indeed feel pain – if an animal is struggling with movement like that, pain is present. Medication doesn't have to be your only tool in your pain management toolbox. Reiki can be used with pain medication to reduce pain further, reduce tension, anxiety and fatigue that comes with pain. This is applicable across all sentient beings and can be a great compliment to traditional medical care.
Finally, let's look at pre- and post-operative care. Before surgery, Reiki can get your energy flowing, clear blockages and help prepare your body for that additional stress. After surgery, it can send the energy where your body needs it the most and strengthens your body's own innate healing ability. Again, this same process can apply and will be just as effective with animals as it is with humans.
Animals don't respond to pain and illness or environmental stresses the same way we do, but that doesn't mean it doesn't affect them. It really does and sometimes in a big way. If you have a companion animal that is an athlete, ageing, fearful or anything in between, let's chat! If you have any questions about Reiki for humans or animals, feel free to get in touch with your questions. I'm always happy to "talk shop".