Many studies have shown that post-operative massage has a wide range of benefits to people. While the research into this technique in pets isn't as extensive, it appears that dogs also enjoy the same results from a gentle massage when they are recuperating from surgery or illness. Specifically, you can expect the following outcomes from a little hands-on therapy for your pet.
Reduced pain and inflammation: Massage eases inflammation by increasing the circulation to the surgical area, which helps to remove inflammatory chemicals. In people, massage has been shown to reduce perceived pain by over 50%, which means that less analgesic drugs were needed. This also reduced the risk of adverse effects of the drugs. While there have been no such studies in dogs at this time, it's certainly possible that they can enjoy a similar outcome.
Reduced anxiety: Surgical procedures are stressful for dogs because they have to spend time in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people, and undergo a procedure that is often uncomfortable. Massage can ease that stress and help them remain calm as they recover. One study in people found that twenty minutes of massage post-operatively significantly reduced pain and anxiety.
Improved mobility: Massage is particularly useful as part of a dog's rehabilitation from orthopedic surgery. It's usual for dogs to have reduced mobility in the surgical area and physical therapy is an important part of their return to normal function. Massage helps to warm the area being treated before the affected joint is manipulated, which can help to increase its range of motion.
Improved bonding: Pet parents can feel quite frustrated after their dog has had a procedure, because they want to help but aren't sure what to do, or they're afraid of hurting them. Learning some massage techniques and applying them regularly lets them be actively involved in their dog's recovery. Not only are they helping their pet, but they're also building a stronger rapport – what dog doesn't love some one-on-one attention from his or her owner?
How can you learn how to massage your furry friend? First, you can undertake a canine massage course to learn the basic techniques. Then, be guided by your dog's veterinarian or physical therapist as to which techniques are most suited for their recovery, and how often you should use them on your dog. Start slowly with short sessions; some dogs don't take to massage at first, but with time and patience, they learn to enjoy it.
Canine massage as part of post-operative recovery or even as an aid in helping them recover from illness can not only ease pain but also provide a sense of calm that enhances healing. If you're not up to doing the massage yourself for any reason, think about hiring a masseur, as the benefits are well worth it. Even if your dog doesn't have a medical reason for needing massage, you may want to do it to them anyway. It's a good way to express your affection and a lovely way to end the day together.
Do you massage your dog? Share your experience with LovePets below!