Canine Pain Management

Dog massage is becoming more and more popular. Massage therapy is a good way to help a dog attain pain management, while possibly minimizing the amount of pain medications he or she would have to take.

What is Dog Massage Therapy?

A pet massage therapist applies hands-on, deep-tissue pressure to a dog's muscles. The amount of pressure applied depends on the size of the dog and the cause of his or her pain.

Massage therapy differs from petting in that the muscles are being manipulated for a certain purpose.

The Benefits of Dog Massage Therapy

The goal of massage therapy for pain management is to improve circulation to promote healing, reduce painful muscle spasms, provide tension relief, increase range of motion and encourage better muscle tone.

Senior dogs can benefit from massage therapy as they tend to suffer from painful arthritis and other joint problems. Dogs with dysplasia in the hips or other joints can improve their gait and manage pain better with the hands-on techniques massage therapists use.

Dogs that are undergoing surgical recovery for procedures such as a TPO (triple pelvic osteotomy), a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in the knee, or even broken bones may heal faster and have better agility than expected as a result of massage therapy.

A dog can feel an overall sense of wellness from massages because he or she will feel less stress, which often comes with pain. When positive touch is administered, a dog will have a release of endorphins - natural pain killers - which will make a dog feel more content and sociable.

Dog Massage Techniques

There are a variety of techniques a massage therapist will use, depending on what is causing a dog pain. Different systems in a dog's body will respond better to a certain style of massage. A dog's muscles will benefit from kneading, stretching and passive joint movement. A dog's circulatory system will respond generally better to stroking. Passive touch and stroking will benefit a dog's nervous system.

Kneading, when done superficially, is when the dog's skin is gently pinched or rolled to increase circulation. Deep kneading is a therapy applied to a dog's muscles to help blood circulate better, control muscle spasms and release toxins.

The passive touch technique does not require any movements or pressure from the therapist's hand. Instead, the therapist will place his or her hand on a dog for 30 to 90 seconds to help warm a dog's tissue or help calm the dog down. Stroking a dog gently is also a technique used to help calm a dog down.

Stretching and passive joint movement are gentle massage exercises that help dogs improve their range of motion if they're stiff. The massage therapist is very careful in how he or she positions a dog before stretching the limbs.

Dog massage therapy is a natural way to help a dog find relief from pain. Your veterinarian can recommend an area therapist with whom he or she feels comfortable.