Massage is a valuable alternative therapy for dogs that delivers a number of emotional and physical benefits. Learn what it can do for your dog today.
As dogs become more like family members and less like possessions, pet parents are increasingly considering human-style treatments for various ills. Massage has been used for both companion animals and livestock for centuries, and it’s an accepted alternative therapy for dogs. We find references to it in texts from ancient Egypt, India, and China, and people have been recording the physiological benefits of animal massage since the 1800s.
You can either learn to give your dog a massage yourself, or take him (or her) to a certified canine massage therapist. Some veterinarians and dog chiropractors are also trained in canine massage therapy. Here are some of the proven benefits of this treatment for the dogs in your life.
Physical touch lowers stress and has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, particularly when you massage your own timid or nervous dog. He benefits from the attention and interaction while enjoying the physical pleasure of the massage. All of these help to heal his emotions.
Massage therapy increases blood circulation in mammals, which increases the amount of oxygen delivered to the tissues. This reoxygenation helps to speed up healing, which is particularly useful after an injury or surgical procedure.
The massage process increases lymphatic drainage, which cleanses the dog’s system by expelling toxins through the lymph glands. This strengthens his immune system and helps him to fight off diseases.
Dogs suffer pain as much as we do, and massage can relieve it in several ways. Relaxing tense muscles, relieving joint stiffness, and reducing stress and anxiety are all instrumental in stimulating the nerve fibers to block pain messages to and from your dog’s brain.
Massage stimulates the flow of synovial fluid, which bathes the joints and increases the range of motion. This gives your dog more flexibility and helps manage the pain from arthritis, hip dysplasia, and other joint conditions.
It’s well-known that massage therapy for dogs addresses muscle tissue directly and helps to release contracted muscles. It also lengthens tight muscles. These actions improve the dog’s muscle tone, reduce pain from tension, combat muscle weakness, and provide relief from spasms.
Dogs bond through contact with their humans, so for any pet parent who is trying to develop a bond with a new entry into the family, massage therapy could be just the ticket. Even if you already have a bond with your dog, the physical contact during a massage session will strengthen it.
Regular dog massages are a great way to do a wellness check, too, especially with an elderly dog. You’ll be able to identify any new lumps or bumps, lesions that aren’t healing, or take note when your dog has a pain in a particular spot. By detecting concerns early, you can consult with your veterinarian and potentially take steps to avoid problems developing.
There are multiple different canine massage techniques you can use, but the basics are all you need to get started giving your dog a massage at home. These fall into three categories:
You’ll use a combination of these three techniques for your dog’s specific issues. Begin with slow, gentle strokes and keep the dog calm. Start at the back of his neck and work downwards, using effleurage. Focus on finding out where your dog’s muscles are tense, and keep going until you feel the muscles begin to relax.
If this is daunting for you, try starting out with a simple backstroke, forehead rub, ear rub, or thigh and glute rub. The American Kennel Club has step-by-step instructions you can follow for a basic canine massage.
When you’re trying to treat a specific medical or rehabilitation issue, it’s best to speak to your veterinarian or canine physical therapist first before starting any alternative therapy for dogs. They will be able to suggest the appropriate method to use and show you how to do it.
Can your dog benefit from canine massage therapy supported by a natural health solution such as Maxwell Pet Hip & Joint? For more information on our products or to place your first order, please contact us.