If your dog could raise a paw in favor, he probably would! The beauty of massage isn’t only for humans. Our canine companions deserve to have healthy body work done, too, especially if practiced by a qualified professional.
Proper pet massage affects all of the body’s systems and isn’t just glorified ‘petting’. Here are 5 benefits of massage therapy for your animal:
1. Relieves muscle tension
Service dogs, working dogs and agility dogs are athletic and busy, which means they are prone to over-worked muscles and injuries. If they do get injured, they will usually favor one side to compensate for the pain on the other side. A massage can work out the kinks and balance the dog’s body back to proper alignment.
Horses are another working animal that benefit from massage because it increases circulation by delivering fresh oxygen to all of the animal’s body parts and loosens knots – muscle fibers that are contracted due to overuse or injury. Sixty percent of a horse’s body is muscle mass. If overuse injuries are left untreated, strain on adjacent muscle and connective tissue and tendons could result. Addressing these problems early on can help prevent more serious injuries from occurring.
2. Geriatric care
Older dogs need/want to stay as mobile as they can for as long as possible, so massage helps maintain their muscles and prevent them from atrophying. Arthritic dogs tend to feel more relief and have more mobility after sessions.
An arthritic dog named Baxter visited a professional massage therapist as a homeopathic treatment strategy instead of resorting straight to medication. The results were even remarkable to Baxter’s veterinarian who noticed great improvement in the dog. Baxter’s pain was more tolerable. He was also in better spirits and more relaxed at the vet.
3. Stress relief
The same relief we feel after a massage is similar to the benefits a dog receives. Dogs suffer from depression and anxiety just like their pack leaders. Research has shown that pet massage has a positive effect on chronic anxieties, food aggression and separation issues.
If your dog seems distressed or depressed after a major life change such as moving or the death of a loved one, therapeutic massage may help reduce emotional stress.
4. Recovery from injury
Many vets will prescribe canine massage as part of your dog’s post surgical recovery plan for pain management and rehabilitation. Depending on the injury, veterinary staff will provide techniques for you to try at home, as well.
5. Confidence booster
For dogs who have suffered abuse, neglect or other emotional trauma, consistent massage can help build trust, confidence and sociability. Dog massage workshops are offered to improve an animal’s confidence and relieve stress and fear, among other problems. Tellignton Touch (TTouch) is a technique that involves non-invasive massage movements and guided walking exercises.
Be sure to consult your pet’s vet prior to massage treatment as it is not a replacement for veterinary care. We ask a lot from our animals, especially service animals whose job is to help humans overcome disorders and promote healing. We need to give back to them. Massage is also a great opportunity to bond with your animal and bring the two of you closer.
About the author: Melissa Davidson is a freelance writer and proud owner of a rescue “Bug” – a lovable Boston terrier and pug mix. Follow Melissa and Romeo’s adventures at TetonRomeo.com.