Once thought to be only for humans, natural therapies are becoming increasingly popular for our companion animals.
A holistic health practitioner for more than 20 years, certified reflexologist, Reiki and craniosacral therapy practitioner Jackie Segers has spread her wings to provide health and spiritual support for animals as well.
Jackie’s beloved Burmese cats, Matisse and Morandi, were her first motivation for moving into the realm of animal wellbeing.
“I know how much natural therapies help my human clients and I knew I could support Matisse and Morandi through their life journeys in this way as well.”
This interest sparked a passion that resulted in her writing two books and holding numerous workshops on healing for animals.
With the successful publication of Reflexology for Cats in 2007, she followed it up with Reflexology for Dogs in 2020.
“I published Reflexology for Cats as a practical guide on paw, face and ear reflexology for cats. Reflexology for Dogs is similar but it focuses on the specific issues that dog owners face in the care and love of their companion animals.”
In both books, there are also chapters on acupressure and moxibustion, Bach flower remedies, craniosacral therapy, holistic pulsing and Reiki.
Jackie believes many people who use holistic therapies for their own wellbeing want the same for their pets.
“Pet lovers want the very best for their furry companions and massage, acupuncture and naturopathy are now being extensively used for our animal friends because they are safe, cost effective and beneficial.”
Just like with natural therapies for humans, the use of natural animal therapies and veterinary care are not mutually exclusive and, Jackie says, they work well together to encourage recovery and overall wellness.
“Natural therapies for animals provide an amazingly beneficial complement to a visit to the vet. As humans, we visit our doctor for our ailments but we also recognise the sense of wellbeing we get from a visit to the masseuse or to the reflexologist.”
Jackie often gets asked why animals need natural therapies and she points to an experiment in Dr Mehmet Oz’s book, Healing from the Heart, that showed massaging a dog’s foot pads increased lymphatic drainage in the whole body.
“Acupuncture, massage and reflexology can improve blood and lymph circulation. Pets have a low tolerance for chemicals and toxins in their environment, yet they can inhale, ingest or absorb them on a daily basis. Toxins can also form in the body as a result of a pet’s diet. Eating commercially-processed pet food can lead to chronic health conditions such as allergies and diabetes. When circulation is improved, nutrients can easily reach cells and waste products can be removed more efficiently,” she says.
Just like us, pets experience stress which natural therapies can help alleviate.
“Stress contributes to around 85 per cent of all major illnesses and plays a crucial part in nearly every condition that a veterinarian treats. Touch therapies like massage and reflexology can facilitate a deep relaxation response. When stress is released, our self-correction mechanism takes over and restores the body back to a normal state of balance.”
With the use of natural therapies, Jackie says, animals and humans have an innate ability to heal if they are nudged in the right direction.
“Often, the best way to help animals relax is if we, as their guardians, practise regular selfcare ourselves.”
Jackie believes one of the best ways to aid global planetary healing is to start with the animals we share our daily lives with.
“Nurturing touch communicates at the most basic level unconditional love, trust and respect. This unique language of connection creates the stillness to recognise and embrace our collective divinity.”
Quoting one of her inspirations, craniosacral therapist Sally Morgan:
“If people are better able to understand animals, they gain a better understanding of themselves. Animals are our connection to nature. Connecting spiritually with animals is one way to help heal the planet as well. Animals teach us self-acceptance and self love and, in that way, bring us closer to the divine.”