In simple terms, massage is the rubbing and kneading of muscles and soft tissues to relieve tension and pain. It is a well-known treatment for people, and it’s no surprise to learn that your dog benefits from it too.
There are several techniques you can use to massage your dog.
- Effleurage is a long light gliding stroke along the length of a muscle. It encourages blood flow in the area, and helps your dog to relax. It also gives you the opportunity to feel for any areas of muscle tightness that will need more attention.
- Petrissage is the firm kneading and rolling that is more typical of a relaxing massage. It has the same effect on your dog’s muscles as it does on yours – improved blood flow and reduced muscle stiffness.
- Tapotement is a percussive method of massage that is less commonly used in dogs. For it, use the sides of your hands or even your cupped hands to tap lightly on your dog’s body.
What Does Massage Do?
Research has shown that like us, dogs respond to touch in a positive way. Stroking and massaging your dog will reduce stress, decrease pain and increase flexibility. It increases dopamine and serotonin levels in his brain, which makes him feel relaxed and help him sleep. Massage benefits all dogs, but it is particularly good for elderly animals with arthritis and those recovering from an injury.
When NOT to Massage
There are some circumstances in which you should definitely not massage your dog. If there is a fracture in a bone or even an area of active inflammation, massage will be painful and make his condition worse. Dogs with bleeding problems should also not be massaged because firm pressure on muscles can cause further hemorrhage.
Caring for Elderly Dogs
Massage is a useful way of improving your senior canine’s well-being. It will make him physically more comfortable and mentally more relaxed. However, it’s not the only thing you can do to care for him.
Other ways you can improve your dog’s quality of life are:
- Provide a soft warm bed that keeps him off the hard floor. Make sure it is low enough for him to easily get in and out.
- Keep his weight in check. His joints are more likely to be sore if they have to carry around extra pounds.
- Give him a good supplement on a regular basis, such as one that contains collagen, hyaluronic acid and chondroitin to improve joint health and mobility. A carefully selected blend of herbs can reduce pain and inflammation, so he’ll feel better very quickly.
Apart from the obvious physical and emotional benefits of massage, you also have a chance to thoroughly inspect your pet for any new lumps and bumps or pesky fleas and ticks that may have decided to move in.
And of course, don’t discount the positive effects on your relationship. What dog wouldn’t love some quality time with his much-loved owner, while he is stroked firmly and his tired body rejuvenated with a massage? That is the absolute best part about spending an hour or so giving your dog a loving massage.
So take a moment and show your canine companion just how much you love him.