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Canine Massage Guild

The Healing Crisis

The Healing Crisis or Herxheimer Reaction

After your dog has received a Clinical Canine Massage, it will be explained to you that your dog may display certain characteristics, as described below.  This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about, it is all part of the cleansing process which has been accelerated by the massage process.  The dog simply needs to go about life a little more gently for a short period to give it chance to process what has happened.

As your dog’s body restores its natural balance and begins to heal itself you may notice what is referred to as the Herxheimer Reaction.  It is characterised by a possible temporary increase in symptoms during the cleansing process which may be mild or severe. Your dog may feel worse for the first 24-72 hours (1-3 days) and you may therefore conclude that the treatment is not working. But these reactions are instead signs that the treatment is indeed working and that their body is going through the process of cleaning itself of impurities, toxins and muscular imbalances.  The severity of the crisis depends on the level of toxins within the dog’s body. In essence, it is part of the body’s detoxification process.  This is a perfectly normal reaction and sets the stage for cellular regeneration and homeostasis.


All dogs are individuals and respond differently, however signs & symptoms of the Herxheimer Reaction may include:

  • Lethargy, increase in sleeping and very quiet
  • Insomnia or restlessness
  • An increase in joint or muscle pain (you may see lameness or stiffness for 48 hours)
  • Increased thirst
  • Reduced appetite
  • Frequent urination, possibly diarrhea, nausea or digestive upsets
  • Runny nose
  • Fever, cold or flu-like symptoms
  • Increase of original symptoms (good sign!)

Alternatively, it can cause :

  • The ‘feel good’ factor
  • Increased energy levels
  • Playfulness and active

Supporting Your Dog

You can help support your dog through the Healing Crisis, by encouraging :

  • Plenty of rest
  • Reduced exercise for duration of Crisis
  • Light meals
  • Constant access to fresh water
  • Increased access to toileting area 
  • Keep your dog ‘quiet’ to enable sleep and the dog’s parasympathetic nervous system, which massage stimulates, supports and encourages, to carry out and fulfil its restorative role of ‘rest and digest’

A Healing Crisis can potentially occur at any time the body undergoes detoxification, but the onset of symptoms may not be immediate.  Please remember that this is the body’s own healing response to toxic overload and is trying to restore its natural balance.  Allow Mother Nature to do her work!

The Healing Crisis is a natural and temporary occurrence, but if you are concerned with your dog’s reaction, please do not hesitate to contact me.