Most people find nothing more relaxing than having a massage at the end of a long day. But did you know that dogs could benefit from massage as well? It might seem a little strange to give your dog a relaxing rubdown, but it can provide some very real benefits.
Benefits of Dog Massage
Just like people, dogs can become stressed, and chronic stress has a negative impact on your furry family member’s health. Dog massage is an excellent way to help your pooch relax. In addition, it can also help to relieve muscle pain. Gently rubbing your dog may increase his energy and improve his focus, which can be beneficial for training.
Massaging your dog should not be a replacement for traditional veterinary care, but it may be a good complement to certain medical treatment. For example, kneading can help to relax your dog’s muscles and increase circulation. Massage may also help to prevent certain conditions, especially those related to stress.
Dog massage can be beneficial for dogs of all ages, though older dogs are most likely to benefit the most from the pain relief it can provide. In puppies and younger dogs, massage can be a great way to bond with your pet and to improve his trust in humans. Some large-breed dogs experience growing pains – massage may help to relieve that pain if your puppy is growing very quickly. In older dogs, massage can help to slow down the aging process and it might help you to detect the signs of illness or injury more quickly. In massaging your dog, you become more aware of his physical and mental state of being, so you will be more likely to notice a problem if one should arise.
Tips for Massaging Your Dog
Now that you know the benefits dog massage can provide, how to begin? You can start massaging your dog at any age but you should stick to light massage, not deep tissue massage, unless you are a trained practitioner. To get started with dog massage, follow the tips below:
- Have your dog lie down on a firm but comfortable surface like a rug or a carpeted floor – for small dogs, you may be able to hold the dog in your lap.
- Start by slowly stroking your companion’s back from his head down to his tail.
- Once your dog begins to relax, start to scratch him gently behind the ears then move down to his cheeks, between the eyes, and over his head.
- Gently rub the base of each ear and, using three fingers, rub in circular motions along your dog’s neck, shoulders, and chest.
- Wrap your hand gently around your dog’s legs, one at a time, squeezing lightly as you move down the length of his leg – rub and gently squeeze your dog’s feet when you reach them.
- Use your thumb and forefinger to “walk” down the length of your dog’s spine down to the base of his tail – do not use too much pressure.
- Finish up with a few long strokes from head to tail.
It is important to be gentle with your dog as you massage him. If at any point your dog appears uncomfortable, go back to the previous motion you were doing until he calms down. You should also be careful to avoid any sore spots, wounds, or bruises to prevent hurting your dog.
We hope this turns into a positive experience for the both of you. Now if only Fido could return the favor!
Here's a video from Ojai School Of Canine Massage to show you the techniques in practice
Article reviewed by a veterinarian