WHAT IS MASSAGE
The word massage means to work with hands or kneading. Massage is one of the oldest forms of healing and dates back to ancient times. Modern animal massage was mostly used for horses until dog massage grew in popularity.
Canine massage therapy is a form of complementary therapy that uses touch to improve or maintain emotional and physical well-being.
Massage is a whole health package, when massage is applied with a caring feeling, skill and knowledge it can help specific health problems and encourages good health, vitality and fitness in dogs.
WHY WOULD MY DOG NEED A MASSAGE?
While dog massage is gaining appreciation around the world, it’s a therapeutic modality that can be misunderstood and confused with a pampering treatment at the dog spa. Another common misconception is that muscles will heal themselves, however it’s not always the case.
There are many unexplained soft tissue problems and deviations that can be easily treated with massage, however first we need to understand the Bio (Life) mechanics (movement) of the Dog. Normal movement of the dog involves proper functioning of all organ systems in the body; skeletal muscles and bony structures.
Muscles contract and tighten usually in response to stress, overexertion, overload or external trauma. Muscle contraction can result in uneven wear and decreased range of motion including unnecessary stress on the muscles and joints of opposing muscles. Asymmetry and misalignment due to overcompensation is also recurrent. When muscles are tight or strained, they cause the joints to ride closer than normally should, therefore restrict free flow movement. Muscle contraction can also cause knots that harden and form pressure including spasms.
Postural and gait compensations are difficult to interpret in animals because they aren’t able to communicate when they are feeling pain or discomfort.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN HEALTH BENEFITS FOR MY DOG
Massage has a deep overall effect on animals and assists the release of contracted fibers that resist movement. The reduction of tension and enhanced circulation affects the entire body which includes organs, nerves and muscles.
Wonderful Benefits of Dog Massage:
- Accustoms your pet to touch
- Improves circulation, lymphatic movement and increases blood flow
- Eliminates toxic waste before it builds up in muscles and around the joints
- Reduces tension and anxiety
- Breaks down adhesion’s and reduces scar tissue
- Reduces swelling and oedema
- Improves joint range of motion
- Strengthens the immune system
- Maintains healthy and shiny coat
- Better movement, gait and posture
- Pain relief effect especially when dealing with tender conditions.
After a therapeutic massage session, the “feel good” sensation removes any nervous tension and anxiety. The sensation experienced by your dog will convey a sense of gratification and re-connection with life that subconsciously promotes recovery and improvement (Hourdebaigt, 2004).
WHICH DOGS WOULD BENEFIT FROM MASSAGE TREATMENTS
Professional Dog Massage has a positive effect on the physical and emotional well-being of dogs of all ages and conditions:
- Puppies starting from about 4 months on-wards
- Healthy and active dogs
- Senior dogs
- Dogs with Arthritis, Hip & Elbow Dysplasia, Luxating patella and other Orthopaedic conditions.
- Sporting dogs
- Performance dogs
- Working dogs
- Dogs post injury or surgery
IS MASSAGE BENEFICIAL FOR DOGS POST-SURGERY
Massage is extremely beneficial for dog’s post-surgical procedure and should be routine for post-operative patients. When an animal patient is feeling anxiety and pain after surgery, it slows down the body’s ability to heal which in turn can increase stress and prolong your pet’s hospital stay. Unfortunately rest alone is not sufficient for healing, after surgery light massage may help decrease inflammation and pain, promote muscle recovery, can prevent compensatory tension from developing in other muscles of the body, may enhance digestion and provide general comfort to your dog.
WHERE CAN I FIND A DOG MASSAGE SERVICE NEAR ME
Only the best will do when it comes to your best friend’s health and well-being. Professional dog masseurs are qualified and specifically trained in anatomy, physiology and have in-depth knowledge of the canine musculoskeletal system.
If your dog is post-surgery, we recommend visiting an animal physiotherapist, rehabilitation vet or practitioner in your state, alternatively you can choose an Animal accredited therapist.
If you’re based in Australia head to Small Animal & Equine Naturopathic Association (SAENA) https://www.saena.com.au. When you choose a SAENA member to treat your pet, you can be sure that they are qualified and have the appropriate skills to treat your animals.
To learn more about Dog Massage, Massage Techniques or request an information pack, contact Melina on 0403 939 202 or Enquiries@PetNurture.com.au
Hourdebaigt, J.-P. (2004). Canine Massage: a complete reference manual (2nd Edition ed.). Wenatchee, WA., USA: Dogwise Publishing.
Rogers, D. S. (2013). The National College of Traditional Medicine © Certificate in Canine Myofunctional Therapy Course Manual.
Individual blogs are based upon the opinions of the specific author, who retains full copyright. The material is not intended as medical advice, it’s intended as a sharing of knowledge and information.
We are not veterinarians and do not diagnose any conditions, perform surgery or prescribe medications, we can assess the muscles as part of being a Canine Myofunctional Therapist. Muscle therapy is not a replacement for proper veterinary care and any injury or disease must be medically diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian. We encourage you to make your own pet health care choices in collaboration with a certified pet health care professional.