Dog Massage Benefits

Dog massage

Whether young or old, weak or strong, injured or not, lean or overweight, dog massage benefits all canines. Below are a few of the ways in which massage can benefit our dogs:

  • Improves function and tonality of muscles
  • Decreases muscle soreness, fatigue, weakness and tension
  • Improves joint mobility and flexibility
  • Improves circulation
  • Encourages flushing of metabolic waste
  • Improves digestion
  • Improves skin tone
  • Helps reduce restlessness and calm anxious pets
  • Improves coat quality

Dogs That Can Benefit From Massage

Performance Dogs

Dogs that compete in agility, flyball, field trials, obedience, and other activities can benefit from massage and stretching.

It improves muscle tone and lengthens their stride.

Which results in increased range of motion and allows for more fluid movement.

This reduces the rate of sports-related injuries.

Dog doing an agility jump
Show dog at a competition

Show Dogs

Show dogs must show the proper balance, reach and gait that conforms to a specific standard for their breed.

First and foremost, it is important that they be moving fluidly and comfortably in order to perform their best.

Massage helps to achieve that ideal fluidity of movement and balance in gait.

Massage can also calm show dogs and give them focus before getting into the ring.

It can give that dog the competitive edge over other dogs in the ring.

Most importantly, it can be the defining difference between a dog that is “Best In Show” and a dog that didn’t win any titles.

Working Dogs

Dogs who provide a service by working with us can also benefit from regular massage.

Herding dogs, police dogs, service dogs, hunting dogs, search and rescue dogs, and drug/bomb detection dogs fall into this category.

Massage can reduce the tension and muscle soreness from pulling against a harness.

Moreover, it can relieve aches and pains from walking over rough surfaces for long periods, or climbing over rubble and debris.

Or racing through the woods after a downed water fowl.

Massage also helps to counteract the high stress level that some dogs acquire along with their demanding jobs.

Working dog - military
Anxious dog

Anxious/Nervous Dogs

Shelter dogs recently adopted and brought into a new home, or just dogs that have a nervous personality can benefit from a massage.

It helps build confidence and trust in human touch for those dogs that have trust issues.

And it really helps anxious dogs learn how to relax!

Post-Injury/Post-Surgery Dogs

If recovering from soft tissue damage or orthopedic surgery having had a joint or ligament repaired or replaced, massage can aid in quicker recovery.

Veterinarians are increasingly recommending swim therapy and massage therapy for injured and recovering pets.

It speeds up the rehabilitation/healing process and helps to ensure the animal makes a full recovery.

Rehabilitation massage can be beneficial when used in conjuction with veterinary care.

It can shorten recovery time and keep muscles from reaching a state of atrophy.

And it can also aid in preventing re-injury and decreases the pain and discomfort of recovery.

Essentially, it helps to ease the transition back into normal movement.

Dog in the animal hospital

Young Dogs/Puppies

Puppies and young dogs are highly active and are still in the process of learning how their bodies move.

The constant activity level of these spunky little devils, combined with growth spurts, and put stress on their bodies. Which may cause a moderate amount of pain (growing pains).

Massage can help ease the discomfort of rapidly growing bones and muscles.

It can also help the young pup to calm down and relax, and help to reduce injuries induced by rough-and-tumble play.

Old Dogs

Just like with humans, dogs experience aches and pains with getting older.

Common ailments in elderly dogs are:

  • Stiff joints
  • Decrease in flexibility and range of motion
  • Fatigue or atrophy in certain muscles from lack of use

Massage helps to improve muscle tone and restore balance to dogs exhibiting the problems above.

It aids in joint flexibility and an increase in range of motion.

Ultimately, it can help older pets achieve a higher level of movement with more ease and less discomfort.

Old English Cocker Spaniel
Vizsla dogs with puppies

Pregnant Dogs

Carrying and whelping a litter can be highly stressful on a dog’s body.

Massage can aid in adjusting her displaced bones. 

It can also ease the stress in her joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments from carrying extra weight.

Additionally, massage can help to alleviate the psychological stress of carrying the litter.

Massage can also benefit her once the litter has been born.

It can help to calm her throughout the whelping and weaning process. 

Dogs With Joint/Mobility Issues

Dogs with arthritis, hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, or other similar disorders can benefit from massage.

When combined with a proper diet and exercise, massage can increase a dog’s flexibility and range of motion, allowing for more mobility.

Regular massage of dogs with joint disease or malformations can play a significant role in keeping their joints moving and comfortable.

Dog limping

Dogs That Should Not Receive Massage

If your dog exhibits any of the following conditions or behaviors, he/she is likely not a good candidate for massage:

  • Fever/Contagious Disease – If your animal has a fever or a contagious disease such as ringworm, a skin infection, anemia, or leukemia.
  • Dogs Exhibiting Human Aggression – If your animal exhibits human aggression, a massage may not be possible.
  • Severe Fear or Trust Issues – A massage is not recommended for these animals, as they may never fully relax and enjoy the benefits of a massage.

Pet massage is similar to human massage in some ways.

It is to be used in conjunction with regular medical care and is not to be used as a treatment for an illness.

It cannot reverse or cure diseases.

*Animal massage practitioners are not qualified to diagnose, give prognoses, or treat any suspected medical problems.*

You will be referred to a veterinarian if any new problems are identified that contraindicate massage.

Massage practitioners may work in conjunction with your veterinarian to address your pet’s specific problems.

You can find a certified animal massage practitioner in your area by searching the member directory, located here: IAAMB Member Directory

One Response

  1. It’s good to know that drug/bomb detection dogs can benefit from a massage because it can help reduce any tension or muscle soreness it may be experiencing. If I were to guess, it seems like this could also really help the dogs perform their job well. Maybe it could be beneficial to make sure that the dogs are massaged frequently, and maybe even on a regular basis.

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Steph and Ripple

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