Aside from simply feeling good, massage has definite benefits for most dogs. Older dogs experiencing aches and pains associated with aging, working dogs with sore muscles, dogs with a history of abuse or neglect, dogs with behavior problems, hyperactive dogs, dogs experiencing stress, dogs in the healing process, and dogs recovering from surgery may all respond positively to massage therapy. Take a look at these benefits of massage therapy for dogs!
Benefits of Massage for Dogs
As well as serving as an opportunity to discover sore spots or skin abnormalities early on, when treatment can be most beneficial, massage has many other positive effects such as:
- Pain relief
- Stress and anxiety relief
- Enhanced healing through improved circulation
- Production of endorphins creating a feeling of well being
- Greater flexibility
Home Massage for Dogs
Home massage is quite different from massage for dogs by a trained therapist or certified practitioner but it has its own advantages. Regular gentle rubdowns can be relaxing for both the owner and the pet and enhance the owner/pet bond. Performed to soft music especially for dogs, at the end of a stressful day, a soothing massage can have significant calming effects.
Home massage techniques such as light kneading and squeezing are easy to do. Passive touch is applied by simply holding the hand for a few minutes without pressure over each group of muscles such as the shoulders, ribcage, and hip area.
Effleurage employs very slight pressure in long, gentle strokes. Using one hand followed by the other, a hand is on the dog at all times. Applying circular motions toward the heart is called centripetal effleurage.
According to beliefs in Chinese acupressure, clockwise motions tend to stimulate while counterclockwise motions tend to relax. Remember, slow and gentle, never pulling hair, and avoiding any lumps, tender spots, or open wounds is important.
If the dog repeatedly protests at a certain point, the area should be examined for any abnormality. However, some dogs just do not like certain areas touched and this should be respected.
When Canine Massage is Not Appropriate
There are cases when massaging is not appropriate including dogs with fever, fractures, rashes, or in shock. To avoid inducing premature labor, do not massage the back or abdomen of a pregnant pet.
Massage for Dogs by Trained Therapist
Canine massage therapists and certified practitioners are trained in canine anatomy and special techniques. They are able to give a deeper massage to find and eliminate even the most subtle muscle spasms. Massage by a trained therapist can produce contentment as well as significant health benefits for the dog but these deep massages should be performed only by a trained therapist.