Back To Cranial-sacral Course Information





Cranial-Sacral Dysfunctions with Canines/Felines

There are three main rhythms in the body: the heart beat, the breathing rhythm, and the cranial-sacral rhythm. The cranial-sacral rhythm ensures that the sutures between the bones can serve as a shock absorber to an impact to the head. Another important function of the cranial-sacral mechanics is to act as a pump for the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). The CSF feeds the neurological tissues and needs to be dispersed throughout the brain and the whole dural sack. The CSF is finally absorbed in the vascular system.

Cranial-sacral Osteopathy for humans was developed by William Sutherland DO, a student of Andrew Still, DO around 1935. He spent almost fifty years of his life researching the relationship between the structure/form of the cranial bones and their function in an effort to understand the complexity of the cranial-sacral mechanism. He developed several models (boneus, membranous, and spiritual) and wrote several books regarding his findings. The Cranial Bowl was one of his most



popular books. Dr. Sutherland was one of the inspirations of the official American Cranial Academy, a well respected academy for research and teaching.

There are many similarities in the cranial-sacral mechanics of humans and canines. Both have approximately 29 cranial bones, and they are connected with sutures in between. These cranial bones move in a consistent, rhythmical pattern with each other and with the sacrum in the pelvis. For canines, the cranial-sacral rhythm is faster approximately 14-16 times per minute compared to humans 8-12 times per minute. With canines, the dura attaches to the middle of the anterior surface of the sacrum. This is the reason why there is a connection between the dural movement in the cranium and the pelvis.

    “The brain and spinal cord undulate rhythmically like a jellyfish. As the brain coils and uncoils,
     the cavities within the brain (ventricles) and around the brain (cisterns) change shape. During
     the inhalation phase (flexion) the brain gets shorter and wider. During the exhalation phase
     (extension) the brain gets taller and narrower.” 
     Dr. William Sutherland

The normal rhythm between the cranium and the sacrum is very crucial for the health of the animal and for successful functioning of the musculo-skeletal system. Cranial dysfunctions can contribute to lumbo-pelvis dysfunctions and other neurological disorders. Other common cranial symptoms with canines can be:

  • Chronic ear and sinus infections
  • Droopy eyes
  • Excessive yawning
  • Equilibrium problems
  • Generally not feeling well
  • Headaches and head tilts
  • Lack of energy
  • Seizures



    Phillip Greenman D.O., College for Osteopathic Medicine, Lansing, Michigan
    Frank Lowen LMT, Lowen Systems, Spokane, Washington
    Fred Mitchell Sr. D.O., “Evaluation and Treatment Manual of Osteopathic Manipulative Procedures”. 1979
    Lauren “Bear” Rex D.O., URSA Foundation, Edmunds, Washington
    Edward Stiles D.O., F.O.A., College for Osteopathic Medicine, Pikeville, Kentucky
    William Sutherland D.O., “The Cranial Bowl”, Kirksville, Missouri