How to Properly Massage a Dog
Just like us, our canine companions can experience stress and tension in their muscles and joints. It’s no surprise then that dog massage is a popular form of relief chosen by many pet parents to alleviate physical stress in their pups. But the benefits of massage aren’t just physical. Massage can have profound psychological benefits as it alleviates stress and anxiety too. While genuine muscular complaints and injuries can be treated through deep tissue massage and therapy, this should be left to a professional. Instead, at-home massages are perfect for relieving slight tension, stress and anxiety. Furthermore, they can be given while you relax with your pup on the sofa, watching tv or listening to music.
If you’ve been considering puppy massage and want to learn how to give a dog a massage, we’ll cover this for you today along with some of the key benefits of puppy massage. We’ll also cover some useful things you should know to be prepared for giving your pup a massage.
Important Things to Consider
Before learning the many benefits of dog massage and how to safely and effectively perform it, it’s first important to consider a few things. Firstly, not every pup responds in the same way to massage. If you’re keen to try it, start on a small area and be gentle – don’t be surprised if your precious pooch is cautious or confused. This advice is especially important for pups with any kind of muscular complaint or injury. It’s worth checking with your veterinarian first if your pup has a medical condition which could be affected by massage.
Before beginning puppy massage there are a few things you’ll need. A quiet space with no distractions, a towel and treats are all important…and of course, your dog. It’s important to use a quiet space to keep your precious pooch relaxed and comfortable. A towel is also needed to catch loose hair which falls out during the massage, particularly for dogs that shed a lot. Tasty treats or toys are also useful to convince your dog to lie still or as a reward for good behavior. It’s important to remove rings or bracelets which could catch on long hair and trim fingernails to prevent accidental scratches. Now we’ve covered some the most important things to consider before giving your pup a massage, let’s take a look at the many benefits.
Benefits of Puppy Massage
If you’re not convinced that puppy massages are useful or if you’re wondering “do dogs like massages?” then it’s about time we looked at the many benefits. As mentioned, dog massage is excellent for your pet’s physical and mental health. The following list highlights the key benefits of puppy massage.
- Relieves muscular pain and tension
- Increases blood flow and circulation
- Improves mobility through increasing range of motion
- Relieves stress and anxiety
- Can lower blood pressure and heart rate
These benefits affect us pet parents as well as our precious pups. Dr. Rachel Barrack, a veterinarian based in NYC, states “Not only is massaging your pet of benefit to them, but it is also of benefit to you…Studies have shown that petting a dog or cat can lower heart rate and blood pressure. Touching your pet will also cause your body to release oxytocin, a hormone that causes sensations of bonding and love.” So, it turns out that puppy massage is beneficial for a pup’s physical heath and the mental health of both owner and pet.
Now we know the many benefits of dog massage and the important things to bear in mind before doing it, it’s time to learn a few dog massage techniques. So, if you’re wondering how to massage a dog, then the following information should clear things up for you. To start, it’s important to keep puppy massage simple and gentle. Deep tissue massage and massage therapy should be left to professionals and should not be attempted at home. Instead, it’s best to start with something simple and effective that won’t cause your pup to be taken off-guard.
There are two main dog massage techniques to use during dog massage: effleurage and raking. Effleurage is a technique which is best suited for large areas such as the back, torso or thighs. With a flat unstretched hand, apply light pressure and stroke up or down, one hand after the other. This is particularly useful for a gentle massage to soothe and calm a tense doggo. Alternatively, the raking technique uses outstretched fingertips to apply light pressure on a more specific area. This technique works well at releasing muscular tension as the fingertips diffuse pressure.
- Back rub: A backrub is good choice for a first massage and can be done while you and your dog relax watching tv or listening to music. Start by stroking up and down at each side of your pup’s spine, applying gentle pressure while avoiding the bone. This massage helps pups to relax and can be effective for relieving both muscular and mental stresses.
- Ear rub: Ear rubs are perfect for a quick, calming massage which relieves tension while relaxing a stressed-out pup. Start with your thumb placed on the inside of the ear and the index finger on the outside. Apply light pressure at the base of the ear and stroke slowly and gently away, towards the end of the ear. Repeat the process until you’ve covered the entire surface area of the ear.
- Forehead rub: A forehead massage is perfect for releasing stress and tension, promoting physical and mental relaxation. Using the thumb, apply gentle pressure at the top of the nose in small, circular motions. Gradually move upwards and along the brow line, using a thumb on each side. After covering the brow, continually move upwards toward the top of the head while still maintaining light pressure in circular motions. A forehead massage is a convenient reward after cleaning your dog’s eyes while they’re used to you touching the eye-area.
Now you know why dog massage is so beneficial for a pup’s mental and physical health. Using the massage techniques discussed you can start confidently and safely start puppy massage today and enjoy the benefits it provides for both you and your canine companion.