Who doesn’t love a massage? If dogs could talk, they would tell you there’s nothing better than a dog massage. This is especially true for IVDD, paralyzed and arthritic canines. The natural healing process released during a massage can improve their quality of life.
I witnessed the powerful effect a dog massage can have when Bailey was a puppy. We had a physical therapist come to our home to help my husband after an injury. When the session ended, the therapist offered to give Bailey her own personal massage as a reward for being “good” during the treatment. She gently massaged the back of Bailey’s neck. My dog instantly calmed down and after a minute her hind legs buckled out of under her in complete relaxation.
Bailey’s response was amazing. It clearly demonstrated the power massage has on a dog. I’ve continued to give Bailey a dog massage nearly every day. It’s taught me that massaging your dog is a great way to connect with your pet and soothe them when they don’t feel well.
The health benefits of dog massage
Jody Chiquoine and Linda Jackson are the authors of the book, A Dog Lover’s Guide to Canine Massage. Their book talks about the importance of touch in a dog’s life and calls massage and the “laying on of hands” the oldest form of medicine known to mankind. The authors point out that for many years pet professionals were the only group who realized the health benefits of dog massage. It was used by veterinarians, groomers and dog trainers. A Dog Lover’s Guide to Canine Massage has increased awareness and encouraged pet owners to start massaging their pets.
Here are the health benefits shared in the book:
Massage is comforting for dogs– Canines with health problems experience stress. They don’t feel well physically and their daily routine may have become disrupted because of their condition. Pet owners who use massage to soothe their dog, see them unwind and relax. The physical touch of a massage reduces anxiety.
Massage jumpstarts natural healing – The act of gently massaging sore muscles and joints can improve circulation to an injured area. This gets more oxygen to the tissues and enables the natural healing process in the body to kick-in.
Massage improves how tissues and organs work – The way a dog digests food, absorbs nutrients, and how well their tissues and organs work can improve with regular dog massage.
Massage increases muscle function – Muscles and tendons can become more flexible when they are massaged. Routine massage can help muscles to lengthen and in turn improve your dog’s range of motion capabilities. This is great for dogs recovering from a spine injury and those with arthritis.
Massage increases bonding – The act of touching and massaging your dog increases the physical and emotional bond between both you.
How massage helps dogs with IVDD and spinal injuries
One of my go-to resources for medical information about animals is VeterinaryPartner.com. Their educational director, Dr. Wendy C. Brooks, recommends massage for dogs who are on crate rest after an IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease) incident or after spine surgery.
She wrote, “Massage the area gently to improve circulation to the area. This is done as many times a day as possible during the first 3 to 5 days and after that drop to three times daily.”
“The benefits of massage include increased circulation to the area, increased lymphatic flow, improved mobility of tissues, and relaxation.”
How to give a dog massage
Here are the basic hand techniques that every pet owner should know and use when they massage their dog.
- Stroking – This is done with the palm of the hand on the pet moving from the head to the tail or from the shoulder/hip down to toe. Use both hands with even pressure as you work your way over your dog’s body.
- Effleurage – This is done with the hand on the pet and even pressure, except you are moving in the opposite direction from the stroking technique. Effleurage works from the toe up to the body. Overlap your strokes to cover the entire body.
- Percussion – This technique requires tapping on the body with a cupped hand and light brisk contact.
- Friction – This movement uses the tip of your fingers to make small rotary motions as you massage your dog.
You can use any combination of these hand movements as long as your dog tolerates them. Massage sessions do not have to be long; gauge them to your schedule and how your dog reacts. In addition to dog massage here is one of our most popular posts you might want to read: Dog Rehab Exercises You Can Do At Home With Your Handicapped Dog.
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