An Introduction to Dog Massage

Dog massage is a great way to help your dog relax. It can also help relieve muscle pain, increase energy and improve focus. Dog massage therapy relaxes muscles, improves circulation, and stimulates acupressure points. While dog massage is no substitute for regular veterinary care, pet massage can help to prevent stress related illness and make you more aware of the state of your dog's health.

Massage Helps Dogs of All Ages

Dogs from all walks of life and at all stages of life can benefit differently from massage. In puppies and young dogs, massage therapy can help increase trust in humans, improve socialization and ease growing pains. In adult dogs, massage therapy helps maintain an optimum state of health, slows the aging process, and can help owners detect the earliest signs of injury or disease. In geriatric dogs, massage can help maintain mobility, stimulate circulation, and reduce the pain of illnesses such as arthritis.

Benefits of Massage for Dogs

Massage is different from petting, because it uses focused, deliberate touches. This means that dog massage can help enhance your level of interaction with your dog. Some benefits of dog massage include:

  • Increased circulation
  • Decreased muscle tension and pain
  • Increased muscle strength
  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased self-esteem and improved behavior
  • Increased bonding between dog and owner

Dog Massage at Home

Deep tissue massage therapy should be performed only by a trained practitioner. However, you can give your dog a light massage at home. Here are some tips:

  • Have your dog lie on a soft, firm surface. A thick rug or carpeted floor is ideal. Small dogs may be held in the lap.
  • Start with soft, slow strokes from head to tail.
  • As your dog begins to relax, begin to scratch gently behind the ears. Move to the cheeks, then under the chin, over the nose, between the eyes and over the head. Rub each ear from base to tip between your thumb and forefinger.
  • Using three fingers, move slowly and deliberately over the neck, shoulders, and chest. Use small, circular motions and gently pinch any loose skin in these areas.
  • Lightly squeeze down the length of each foreleg. Place three fingers on each side of the leg and softly rub back and forth. If your dog is okay with having his feet handled, then squeeze them gently.
  • Place your thumb and forefinger on each side of the spine and 'walk' them to the base of the tail. Be careful not to place any pressure directly on your dog's spine.
  • You may massage the rear legs and tail in the same way that you did the forelegs.
  • Finish with several soft, slow, deliberate strokes from head to tail.
  • If, at any point, your dog resists, respect his wishes and return to the last technique you performed.
  • Avoid any wounds, bruises, lumps, rashes, or sore spots.
  • Take the opportunity to look for ticks, mats, burrs, or scabs.
  • Remember to keep your touch light and gentle. Deep massage should only be performed by a trained professional. Do not attempt deep massage at home, as it may harm your dog.