FREE SHIPPING on all orders to US

Massage Therapy For Your Dog

Dog Maassage Benefits

Massage = Petting With A Purpose

“The touch of instinctive massage like licking is performed without forethought. In contrast, purposeful massage is a thought driven action that is done with the intent to promote balance in the dog.”, ~Dr. Sue Furman, Ph.D., Holistic Touch Therapy, Canine Massage for the Athlete in Every Dog. I was fortunate to train with Dr. Furman in 2014. Since then I have worked on a great number of dogs and was even able to assist her in one of the classes that came after me. I am humbled by the trust each dog places in me when they are hurting or ill. To be able to help an animal feel better or heal faster is a gift I get from them.

Massage Therapy For Your Dog | Hound Power

Have you ever thought about massage for your four-footed companion? Wondered if it provides the same benefits you receive from a massage? According to Professor Saul Shanberg of Duke University, “Touch is ten times stronger than verbal or emotional contact and is a key part to the survival of the animal species.”

To a casual observer, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between petting your dog and massaging your dog. The difference comes from having a purpose or intent. In massage, you have a desired outcome. When you pet your dog, you are lovingly running your hands over his/her body but with no purpose other than perhaps to give and receive love or reassurance.

I can attest to the benefits I have received over the years from massage. Over the years as a gymnast and later a martial artist, I was ever so grateful to have someone that could ease my pain and put things back in line where they belonged.

While once thought to be only an extravagant spa indulgence, the evidence continues to mount on just how beneficial massage can be to humans and animals alike. While some benefits appear obvious i.e. mobility, others are not so apparent. Massage increases body fluids. This results in “washing” the internal systems. This increase in circulation flushes toxins from the body and as a result, strengthens the immune system. The hands-on, gentle rhythmic pressure using various techniques is calming, healing, and can help relieve pain.

Massage Therapy For Your Dog | Hound Power

As humans, we are very aware that stress manifests itself in many physical ways and is a big factor in a variety of illnesses. The same is also true for our pets. Our pets pick up and carry some of our stress in addition to their own and can suffer the same ill effects. Our dogs get knots, stiffness, and pain the same as we do. Through massage, sticky connective muscle tissue is released enabling body fluids to pump more freely. As with humans, the more bodily fluids move freely the more pain and stiffness are reduced. Massage also balances muscle tone enabling more flexibility around joints.

Dr. Furman, in her book Canine Massage for the Athlete in every Dog, says “The techniques of passive touch, effleurage, compression, petrissage, friction, percussion, and stretch all work together to “balance” your dog. Some relieve muscle aches and strains, others stimulate and some promote relaxation. Collectively the strokes used in massage therapy increase circulation, reduce stress hormones, relax, reduce pain, improve immune function, alleviate depression, heighten awareness and generally enhance homeostasis of the organ system. The comforting, purposeful touch of massage is an incredibly powerful force to heal the body, soothe the mind, and lift the spirit of dogs with different health issues and lifestyles”

Massage Therapy For Your Dog | Hound Power

Massage releases endorphins. Simply put this state of relaxation allows the body to heal or recover from excessive exercise or early stages of illness and disease. As our companions become seniors, they may develop arthritis, joint issues, and even hip dysplasia which can greatly affect their flexibility and mobility. Massage helps create a better quality of life.

When I work on a dog, I go to their home where they feel safe and are able to relax. The best compliment I can get is when I hear a deep sigh and they are so relaxed, I have to see myself out unescorted.

Why Massage Your Arthritic Dog?

Arthritis is a degenerative disease that as it progresses can cause major pain and soreness in your dog’s joints, specifically their hips, lower spine, and knees. While not as severe, it can cause discomfort in their elbows and shoulders. Just a few minutes a day of gentle, purposeful, loving massage slows down this degenerative process and alleviates some of the muscle tension that accompanies it.

Your Dog’s Weak Rear Legs

“Dogs that suffer from arthritis and joint problems tend to have weak rear legs. If your dog’s rear legs are starting to show signs of weakness, follow some of these simple massage techniques.

Massage Therapy For Your Dog | Hound Power

Giving your dog a massage is a great way to improve your bond with them and help them improve after an injury or when suffering from a chronic condition. Start slowly until you are sure that your dog is comfortable. Keep the sessions short. Listen to your dog. In no time the two of you will establish a rhythm and you both will look forward to massage time

.Effleurage: Effleurage means to glide your hand down your dog’s spine or along their side in the direction of his fur. This s a lot like petting.

Petrissage: Petrissage consists of semicircular strokes on muscular areas. Use your palms and fingers on your dog’s pain points. Using your fingertips, press in small circles along the shoulders, hips, back, and legs. Keep the pressure light and DO NOT massage over a joint. Going down the spine start to the left or right of the spine at the shoulder using the tips of your fingers gently make circles (moving the skin over the underlying tissue) down the length of the spine to the base of the tail. Make 2-3 circles in one spot with your fingers then lift them and move down the spine to the tail. On a larger dog, you may be able to move your fingers toward the top of their rib and go down the spine a second time. You DO NOT want to massage directly on top of the ribs. Digital Circles can be used on the tail, chest, shoulders, and hip, as well as the legs.

Strengthening exercises for rear legs

According to Full Stride Myofunctional Therapy and Nutrition, dogs recovering from surgery and injury or dogs with chronic conditions such as hip dysplasia can improve with a combination of strengthening and remedial exercises.

Massage Therapy For Your Dog | Hound Power

Going for walks is a good strengthening and remedial exercise for most dogs; however, it is important to be sure that your dog is not in pain. Walking the dog on a short leash and encouraging her to use her rear legs can give her the strength she needs.

Encouraging your dog to sit and stand is another strengthening exercise. Again, start out slowly until strength is built up, and don’t if your dog is in pain. Using a rear support harness can give your dog the extra support they need until their legs become stronger. I had a pet parent call me after a visit where we were working on rear leg strengthening. She was so proud that her dog had been able to do this exercise 25 times. I was back the next day working on very sore legs. Always go slow and take baby steps. A lesson here from the Hare and the Tortoise, Slow and steady wins the race

Becoming Your Dog’s Masseuse!

Start by lightly running both your hands all over your dog (try to keep both hands on your dog throughout the massage session. Move into gentle circles with your hands where one hand passes under the other (think about the movement of the sleight of hand with the pea and three cups). Listen to what your dog is telling you. Watch for trigger points and be sure to massage BOTH sides of your dog. After a few minutes shift your concentration to the specific area you want to work on. This gentle movement increases circulation in that area. Lightly begin to “knead” the muscle. After a few moments use flat hands to rub the muscle back and forth. This gentle friction will begin to loosen the tight muscle fibers which in turn will cause deeper circulation. Approximately every 10-15 seconds switch between the light kneading motion and the gentle friction. This process will promote circulation and fluid drainage. Carefully work around your dog’s joints. DO NOT apply any direct pressure to the joints!

Massage Length?

Massage Therapy For Your Dog | Hound Power

The average time to spend on your dog’s massage varies depending on the size of your dog and their general health. Smaller breeds usually enjoy about a 10-15 minute massage. Larger companions can comfortably get into 15-20 minutes of massage. Start with less time and gradually increase it over several days as they become used to it. NEVER overwork an area. Avoid thinking longer or more pressure is better. This approach can exacerbate the inflammation-causing process. Not only will your dog not get the full benefit of the massage, but you can also add to the damage. Immediately after the massage make sure your dog has plenty of water. If possible a gentle short walk is great. After that, your fur baby will be up for a nice nap.

When and Where?

When? Your dog will benefit the most from a massage both in the morning and again in the evening. The morning session will help alleviate the soreness and stiffness from overnight. The evening massage will relieve muscle aches and tension from the day’s activities. Where? Your dog doesn’t need dim lights and soft music but it won’t hurt either. Anywhere you and your dog are comfortable and can relax will work.

Massage Therapy For Your Dog | Hound Power

“Please turn out the light when you leave!”

  • Reference Material:
  • Balance Your Dog Canine Massage, C. Sue Furman Ph.D.
  • Canine Massage for the Athlete in Every Dog, C. Sue Furman, Ph.D.

Please reach out with any questions. Like and Share.

Jackie Pinson

Jackie Pinson

Jackie (aka momma): Having trained in canine massage, she started Canine Canine Pawsitive Touch Massage and Wellness, as a way to help dogs in pain. Jackie started looking for other ways to help more hounds. (Vinny considers all dogs hounds) With NY Vinny & Princess Toolip as inspiration, Hound Power was born in 2018 to help hounds in other ways.

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top

Our site uses cookies. By continuing to use our site, you are agreeing to our Cookie Policy.

Get the latest updates

Sign up!

be the first to know when NY Vinny posts & when he & da Princess Toolip sneaks more discount codes!