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All You Need to Know About Massaging Your Dog

Posted by Steve Whitney on

If you are a dog owner, you know how much they love a good petting and a stroke. This typically includes a pat on the head and a stroke under the chin. While interaction like this is good and encouraged. You can do much more, such as massaging your dog for bonding, health, and happiness.

Yet massaging your dog in the wrong way will cause more harm than good, and precautions must be taken. First, you should only use the standard massage technique outlined in this guide. Second, don't attempt a deep-tissue massage as it's likely you will injure your dog. Instead, it is advised that you leave advanced techniques to dog therapists and veterinarians.

However, you shouldn't be discouraged from massaging your dog. With a basic and easy-to-learn technique, you can help your furry friend through some of the worst times, such as stressful situations, injury recovery, and sensitive grooming. In addition, you will build trust with your dog and experience relaxation and bonding time like no other.

Why Would I Massage My Dog?

Like human interaction, there are many reasons why you would massage a dog. For people, the act of receiving a massage is, first and foremost, an incredibly relaxing experience. And your dog is no different. This is evident by how long a dog or puppy will stay by your side while you stroke them. In short, it just feels good to them.

Yet, like people, there are numerous physical and holistic health benefits to canine massages, such as pain relief, healing properties, and bonding. But the most effective use of massage is that you can help your dog in a completely natural way without the need for medication or chemicals.

Dog Massage vs. Human Massage

Dogs are anatomically similar to humans, but there are significant differences. Yet all dogs are physiologically identical. From the smallest Toy Yorkie to the largest Silver Lab (more here), canine organs, muscle groups, and nerves are located in the same place across all breeds.

This makes learning dog massage easy. However, just like human massage, you need to learn how to do this properly, or you can cause injury rather than help your dog. For example, using the wrong massage technique or doing it too hard or rough may cause musculoskeletal damage.

Why You Should Massage Your Dog Safely

You can cause injury to your dog if you perform a massage technique the wrong way. There are various methods you can do to help your dog. The method you use depends on the result you are hoping to achieve. For example, a deep tissue massage is helpful to arthritic dogs but is an advanced technique recommended by a trained professional.

However, there are some easy methods you can use at home right now in a safe manner. This includes a general message that is more akin to rigorous petting. However, this technique will not harm your dog. Your dog will also love it and probably paw you to carry on when you stop.

A Simple Dog Massage Technique

Massaging your dog in a standard way is easy to perform and won't injure your pet in any way. However, you will use your fingers to rub specific areas in a particular way. Therefore, it is recommended you don't do this to an injured or sensitive area on your dog.

  1. Pet the Animal: A general petting of the head relaxes the dog, and they will get into their most comfy position.
  2. Begin with a Neck Rub: When your dog is relaxed enough, gently rub under the neck in a circular motion. Don't apply too much pressure.
  3. Move to the Shoulder Blades: With the same circular motion, work the back of the dog's head between and around the shoulders.
  4. Move Back around to Chest and Legs: Gently work your way back around to the front after a while. Gently rub the chest and legs in a gentle circular motion.
  5. Work the Back: Next, work up and down your dog's back from mid-point to the shoulders. Be careful of the spine and still apply gentle circular pressure.
  6. Rub the Back Legs: Finally, you can move to the back legs. You can gently rub from the paws up to the base of the tail.

This is a simple yet effective technique that is unlikely to cause any harm to your pup. While it's not a medical method, there are many benefits to stroking your dog in this way, including stress relief, bonding, and circulation-boosting.

The Benefits of Dog Massage

In addition to a balanced organic diet, regular exercise, and lots of love, massaging your dog helps promote a healthier lifestyle. And this applies to the mind as much as the physical. Dogs communicate with interactions. Therefore, by using massages effectively, you will communicate with your dog in a genuinely canine way, so they better understand your intent.

Stress and Anxiety

If you have a dog for a while, you will understand that they experience stress and anxiety in much the same way as humans. If you have ever been with a dog during the 4th of July in the US or Bonfire Night in the UK, you will understand how loud noises can affect a canine.

But external stimuli aren't the only things that can cause stress to a dog. Unfamiliar scents, places, and people can cause anxiety. Spending some time performing the standard dog massage will help calm them and let them know you are there for comfort.

Pain Relief

There are many reasons why a dog would be in pain. Surgery, a playing injury, or a cut paw are common causes of pain for a dog. While you can try your best to shield your dog from harm, inevitably, they will eventually suffer some unpleasant experience.

Taking your dog to the vet is the best course of action for a severe injury. Yet, for many, you can apply simple treatments such as a bandage. Whatever the reason, however, you can use gentle massage around an affected area. Or you can use a petting massage for comfort.

Circulation Boosting

As you get older, blood circulation throughout your body becomes restricted. This can cause a variety of issues such as swollen legs, ulcers, and pelvic pain. Your dog is no different. And just like humans, your dog will benefit from massage as a way to relieve poor circulation issues.

You can use various techniques such as deep tissue massage, vibrating devices, and heat application. However, trying any of these with a dog will likely cause injury to both of you. It is therefore recommended you use the general dog massage for a prolonged period in the affected area.

Relaxation Time

One of the primary reasons for massage is relaxation. Most people attend a massage session for this reason. And massage works the same way for your dog. You will know how effective a simple petting is at calming your dog, yet a massage will all but put the dog to sleep.

Most dogs will generally lounge around the home, usually in a warm area or assigned bed. In short, they love to relax. Yet, using the general massage technique is a great way to provide some extra relaxation for both of you. So, find a comfy area and pet away.

Bonding Experience

While enjoying the boosted relaxation that a dog massage provides, the technique is a fantastic way to bond with your furry friends. In addition, the interaction of this nature speaks to a dog on their level since canines communicate via interaction and gesture.

It's possible that your dog doesn't trust you at first, and this massage technique is a great way to build that trust. It might only be possible to massage one or two areas of your dog at first, yet after a few sessions, when the dog realizes how good it feels, it will be like furry putty in your hands.

Grooming Session

Once you have established trust with your dog, they will likely allow you to massage them all over. An all-over massage will put your dog in a relaxed state. And this state will be comfortable enough for a grooming session.

While most dogs don't mind the grooming of the coat, some are fickle when it comes to certain areas. For example, trimming paw hairs, clipping, and tail grooming are sensitive areas. Massaging your dogs will relax them enough where they might not mind you grooming sensitive areas.

Specialized Dog Massages

The anatomy of dogs is similar to humans in that they have muscle groups. And like humans, if these muscle groups are massaged incorrectly, they can cause pain. This is why massage therapists need to train and become certified. In short, a massage therapist is an anatomy specialist.

Yet even the best human massage therapist isn't qualified to perform a deep tissue massage on a canine. Therefore, it is advised you make an appointment with a qualified canine masseuse or a veterinarian for massage techniques more complex than the standard one in this article. Skilled technicians can help with issues such as arthritis, lymphatic and organ function, and natural detoxification.

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