The Health Benefits of Massaging Your Dog
How to massage a dog the best way? What are the health benefits of dog massage? This and other questions answered in this article. Read now!More
“Ooh, that feels good!” That’s what your dog will be thinking when you give them a proper rub down. Not only is a dog massage enjoyable for our canine companions, but it’s proven to have many healthy benefits as well.
Canine massage provides a wide range of physical and psychological benefits for your dog, and a basic massage you can do at home only takes a few minutes. Plus, it’s a wonderful way to build and strengthen the bond you share with your canine companion.
Benefits of Dog Massage:
1. It Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Massage is proven to reduce stress and anxiety, which is a huge plus for any dog and especially helpful for pups that are easily stressed or worried. Just like humans who experience anxiety, anxious dogs can benefit from a consistent, reassuring routine.
Incorporating massage into your dog’s daily routine – perhaps as a nighttime ritual or a morning routine – can provide a comforting form of relaxation.
Gentle hands-on massage can be effective in reducing everyday anxiety in our pups, including during stressful situations such as a thunderstorm or fireworks. Dogs really enjoy a good massage, as the physical contact given can help calm an anxious dog.
2. It Decreases Pain
Beyond the obvious benefits of relieving muscle tension, canine massage therapy can be a powerful tool for realigning the spine and body, which is great for your dog's health. The act of gentle rubbing and kneading on your dog can increase circulation to a sore area or joint.
The gentle pressure of your hands causes tissues to contract and increases local blood flow. Take caution not to press too hard, and stop if your pet flinches, moves away, nips, or growls.
The act of massaging a dog stimulates the release of endorphins, which helps to alleviate pain. If your dog has spent a long day running, playing, or even swimming, this exertion can sometimes lead to soreness and stiffness in the joints and muscles. Massage will help to relax those muscles and release tense areas.
Dogs with conditions like arthritis will also appreciate massage for this reason. If your dog is recovering from a painful injury, you can ask your veterinarian if there are any specific massage techniques you can perform at home to provide pain relief.
3. It Improves Circulation and Lymphatic Flow
Dog massage is certainly great for increasing a dog’s circulation and lymphatic flow, which in turn benefits their entire body. Good circulation ensures your pup is getting a healthy supply of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to their brain and other organs, and keeps their skin and coat healthy.
Improving the flow of the lymph fluid in the lymphatic system helps carry metabolic waste away from their muscles and internal organs.
All of this means your dog will have a better chance of avoiding certain health conditions like hypertension (high blood pressure) and edema (an excess of watery fluid collecting in the cavities or tissues of the body). There are so many important factors when it comes to your dog's health.
4. It Assists in the Recovery Process
Canine massage therapy can be a wonderful form of therapy for animals who are rehabilitating from an injury or surgery. Your vet may be able to show you specific massage techniques to help your fur baby along in the recovery process. Plus, it’s not only the injured area that can benefit from healing touch, so it’s helpful to take a holistic approach to massage in recovering dogs.
For example, to compensate for an injured leg, over time a dog will have put excessive stress and strain on many of the other muscle groups throughout the body. Therefore, their whole body can benefit from an efficient massage during the recovery process. This can really help your dog tremendously.
5. It Helps You Identify Potential Health Issues
The more you get familiar with your dog’s skin and hair, the easier it will be to notice if something feels different, or even wrong. Another added benefit of regular canine massage is that you become familiar with your dog’s body and can better recognize what is normal and not normal. This allows you to identify any trouble spots that you could then bring to your veterinarian’s attention for further investigation.
As you massage your pup, look for any unusual swelling or lumps, changes in surface temperature, sensitivity to touch, or quality of skin or hair. Early detection is one way that regular massage can add to the length and quality of your dog’s life. Dog massage is also vital to strengthening your pet's immune system.
How to Massage Your Dog:
Step 1: Slowly starting dog massage therapy
Pick a quiet part of your living space for the massage to help your dog feel calm and secure. Do not try to start the massage if your pet is overly fearful or showing resistance. First, softly stroke the area of interest. Use flat palms to press against the skin lightly. Move your hands slowly using long, sweeping motions and in circular motions.
While massaging, take note of any swelling, increased sensitivity, and pain. Stop if it seems to hurt your dog in any way.
Step 2: Working on the whole body
Using the technique described above, start from the head and neck, and work down the body, gently increasing pressure if your dog seems to be enjoying the massage therapy. Work in circular motions and sweeping motions. Do not press straight down on bones or joints. This can really hurt them. Avoid all areas where your dog doesn’t like to be touched.
Step 3: Base of the skull & tail
A gentle massage at the base of the skull and the base of the tail can stimulate relaxation. Remember to make the experience enjoyable for them, and be sure to stop if your dog recoils, cries out, yelps, or seems to be in pain.
Things to Keep in Mind:
The main thing to keep in mind when massaging your dog at home is that you want to use gentle motions and techniques to make sure they’re comfortable throughout the entire process. While some humans may enjoy deep tissue massage, with dogs it’s best to use light pressure and avoid anything fast, hard, or abrupt to prevent any adverse effects. Dog massage should be done with more caution.
Best Dog Massage Techniques:
Three techniques are simple enough for you to do at home, while still providing your dog with the wonderful health benefits canine massage has to offer:
Effleurage – Long, soothing strokes are used to begin and end the dog massage. This technique helps dogs relax, warms up the underlying tissues, and encourages blood flow throughout the body.
Petrissage – Kneading or rolling motions that increase blood flow and lymphatic drainage and stimulate the removal of any toxins that may be trapped in the tissues of dogs.
Compression – This is done by gently pressing the muscle against the bone to help spread muscle fibers and increase circulation. Applying two hands on opposite sides of the limbs, not pressing very hard at all.
Massaging Your Dog With The Bath Brush by PRIDE+GROOM:
How Often Should You Massage Your Dog:
Depending on the age and mobility of your dog, regular massages and treatments initially acclimates them to the treatment protocol, loosens the fascia and muscles, and provides relief from muscle tension and pain. These benefits can then be maintained by semi-regular “top up” massage treatments.
Maintenance treatments may be provided monthly or up to 16 weeks for younger dogs. Maintenance treatments are typically shorter treatments to keep the muscles and fascia loose and lubricated and to treat any specific areas of muscle tension. Not only is the frequency of massage a variable in achieving benefits for your dog, the duration of the massage treatment is also a factor.
Animal massage not only provides numerous health and therapeutic benefits, but it also makes your dog feel good! Massage can help increate the amount of quality time you spend with your dog. Start pampering your pup with their first canine massage and you will have a happier, healthier, and more balanced canine companion on your hands in no time.
Where Can I Learn How To Massage a Dog?:
There are many online courses and trainings you can take in order to properly learn how to give your dog the best massage therapy possible. While you may not become a certified massage therapist, you will learn the proper techniques to give a dog a massage. From your own home, you can learn animal massage, acupressure and aromatherapy from top leaders and massage therapists in the field.
Does Pet Insurance Cover Dog Massages?:
It depends on your pet insurance plan. Some pet insurance companies and policies will cover alternative therapies like acupuncture, animal acupressure and therapeutic massages, but most do not.
Always look into your pet insurance policy first before scheduling an appointment with a massage therapist. Keep in mind, that an office visit for a canine massage will have to be deemed necessary to treat a medical condition (such as joint pain or arthritis) that is also covered by the pet insurance plan.
Through direct work on a dog's soft tissues, canine massages can improve blood flow, alleviate stress, reduce pain, discomfort, relax tight and sore muscles, and help heal sprains, strains and joint issues. In addition, many believe it also strengthens the immune system, improves digestion, and lowers blood pressure.
The overall well being of your dog is improved when giving your dog a massage.