Canine massage therapy might sound kind of silly; but if you think about it, you probably give your dog a massage every day. We knead, pet, gently pull, pat and rub our dogs all the time without thinking of it as anything therapeutic, but in fact, all those motions are part of what happens during an “official” canine massage.
According to Sound Dog Massage traditional massage techniques were first applied to animals by ancient cultures, but animal massage has enjoyed a new popularity in the last 50 years. Once the benefits were fully realized for large animals, equine massage became widespread in the horse community. From there the practice moved to canines and other small animals.
Benefits of Canine Massage
Massage benefits dogs in all the same ways it benefits humans, plus more:
- Speeds the body’s natural healing process after injury or medical procedures
- Improves circulation
- Help’s improve range of motion and joint flexibility
- Improves balance and stance
- May alleviate anxiety or depression caused by stress
- May reveal undiagnosed medical problems
- Can decrease pain in dogs that suffer from arthritis
- May improve condition of the coat, skin and oral health
- Helps regain use of atrophying muscles
- Can help a fearful or submissive dog feel more secure
- Help abused dogs gain trust in human touch
- Strengthens the bond between dog and human
- Just feels good
Who Can Do It?
There are trained and licensed canine massage therapists and even specializations in the field such as Manual Ligament Therapy. If you’re seeking therapy for your dog because of an injury or illness, paying for the skills of an expert may be beneficial. Ask your veterinarian or groomer for a recommendation. However, there are many free resources where guardians can learn how to apply massage techniques to help their dogs feel better.
Remember that canine massage isn’t a replacement for proper veterinary care. If your dog has an acute injury or appears ill, massage may worsen the condition. If your dog growls, snaps or appears uncomfortable with massage, stop treatments until a vet clears the animal for therapy.