Massage is proven to be beneficial to humans. The soothing manipulation of muscles has a calming effect. Massage reduces pain and consequently increases flexibility. Massage increases blood circulation and is noted to be an effective method of removing toxins from the body. All these known benefits that are gained by humans from massage works in pets as well. Similar to humans, dogs have bouts of anxiety and stress too. Massage is proven to be effective in relieving the physical and emotional stress of our canine friends. However, massage should not be made a substitute for necessary veterinary care. Depending on the needs of the pet, massage is usually done along with the treatments prescribed by the veterinarian.
Deep massages for dogs are best done by trained and qualified or certified practitioners who have a thorough knowledge of a dog’s anatomy. A gentle home massage however can be given to the pet. Aging can take a toll on the pet. Joint problems, torn ligaments and arthritis would impair the mobility of an aging pet. Injured pets that have undergone surgeries would have restricted movements during the period of confinement. Because of inactivity, the muscles will be stiff. Massage relaxes muscles and improves flexibility. Massage also enhances the bond between master and pet.
Small pets can lie on your lap but dogs that are rather on the large size should lie on a soft but firm surface. Massage involves applying pressure on different part of the body. Start the massage with soft slow strokes from the head to the tail. Gently scratch behind the ears, moving slowly to the chin and to the face of the dog. Make sure to use light pressure. With the three fingers moving in circular motion, move slowly from the neck to the shoulders and chest of the dog. It would be okay to gather small folds of skin to squeeze gently. Squeeze the length of the forelegs lightly. Again, using three fingers, work your way from the buttocks to the thighs and to the legs. “Walk” the thumb and the index finger along the muscles on both sides of the spine. End the massage with long strokes from the head to the tail. You may squeeze the tail from base to tip but be very gentle and take care not to pull. Talk softly while you are massaging your pet. Your gentle soothing voice and touch should relax the dog. At the end of the massage session the dog should be lulled peacefully to sleep.
Home massage is the greatest gift you can give to your pet. This bonding time will also be a good opportunity to spot cuts, burrs, sprains and external parasites that will infest the pet.