Is Massage Therapy Right for your Dog?

Massage therapy dates back thousands of years to early China and Egyptian civilizations. I wonder what they'd think of us now, extending that therapy to our four-legged friends? Dogs can enjoy many of the same benefits as their human counterparts during a massage session.

We all know how our pets enjoy a scratch behind the ears or on the tummy. Massages last longer and go deeper than the superficial pets we give them throughout the day. Here are a few reasons to incorporate massage into the life of your pet:

Increased Circulation: Massaging the muscles increases circulation to all areas of the body and increases the cells' ability to carry oxygen and nutrients where they need to go.

Increased Flexibility and Range of Motion: This is especially important for older dogs, dogs recovering from surgery or dogs in agility training. Massage helps to loosen and heal tight and over-worked muscles and loosen stiffened joints.

Bonding: Dogs love pets and cuddles, but massage takes that one giant step further. Massages last longer and bring owner and animal closer for longer periods of time. This is great for newly adopted dogs, older dogs at the end of their life and every pooch in between.

Surgical Care: A surgery can be a traumatic event in the life of your pet. Post-surgical massage can help re-bond you to your animal and help aid the healing process by increasing the circulation.

Competition Dogs: Dogs in training and competitive games need rub downs just like horses after a long sprint at the derby. It helps ease muscle aches and joint tenderness and provides for overall relaxation. A quick massage before an event can help loosen the muscle and help prepare the dog for peak performance in the games.

Preventative Management: When you regularly run your hands along the dog for a daily or weekly maintenance massage, you will quickly learn what is normal for your pet's body and when problems arise like cysts, tumors or overall muscular changes. Keeping a close eye on your pet in this way will allow you to spot problems early and seek medical treatment if necessary.

Calm Anxiety: Massaging during stressful times such as thunder storms, firework shows, before nail trimming or after any change in routine can help your pet calm quickly and ease back into the routine of the household. You can ask a pet masseur for advice on just the right spot to massage for nervous system or anxiety issues.

If you're worried about the correct form for massaging your animal, especially when you first start with massage therapy, you can leave it to the professionals or have them show you how it's done.