You have likely been on the receiving end of a good massage and already know the benefits for humans—even if it’s just that it feels good and helps your body relax. Touch alone can be healing. But you may not be as aware of the benefits of massage for dogs.
Young puppies as well as senior dogs, active and athletic dogs as well as lazier or more relaxed breeds, show dogs and those that could place in an ugly dog contest (so adorable in their own way) can all enjoy the benefits of massage for dogs.
While there are some simple techniques pet owners can use at home, dog massage therapy can provide better and deeper benefits, especially for animals that are suffering from age-related degeneration or muscle imbalances.
Benefits of Massage for Dogs
Growing data indicate massage may help the body move more comfortably. For instance, massage has been found to help:
- Increase circulation
- Improve the pliability of connective tissue, which can enhance range of motion
- Stimulate lymphatic tissue
- Promote the health of the skin and coat
- Repair microtears in muscle tissue
- And, of course, help the body relax, breathe, and move more freely
These benefits can then lead to decreased pain levels, support the body’s inflammatory response, and improve how the animal (human or dog) feels, physically as well as mentally or emotionally.
There is also specific research with dogs showing the benefits of massage therapy for animals, such as supporting their circulatory system, autonomic nervous system, and mind. Specifically, massage for dogs may help reduce swelling or edema, increase mobility, and even lessen joint and muscle pain and help the dog feel more comfortable as they get older or battle illness or imbalances due to a recent injury.
A well-trained dog massage therapist or provider has techniques that can help your dog relax more quickly to benefit more fully from the massage. Therapeutic massage has also been found to help improve a dog’s quality of life.
Other Benefits of Massage for Dogs
Massage also feels good, whether it’s a gentle ear, nose, or belly rub from the pet parent or a therapeutic massage to release tension in the hindquarters or gentle pressure on the muscles around the spine (never directly on the spine) to smooth out an imbalance, which can, for example, be vital to the correct stance of a show dog.
Other benefits of dog massage may be less “scientific” but no less supportive of a dog’s well-being. For instance, massage may help your pup relax, which may decrease fear and anxiety, so they’re more comfortable around unfamiliar people or locations, such as vets or groomers, or unusual stimuli, such as hats or hoodies.
Dog massage may help improve your dog’s mind, muscles, nervous system, and circulatory system. This may assist with improved digestion, help revitalize bodily organs like the kidneys and liver, and potentially bolster systems like the immune and respiratory systems.
Dogs, just like humans, can and do benefit from professionally trained massage therapists and providers who have in-depth knowledge of what their canine clients want and need. Learning canine massage provides the knowledge therapists need to help address the complex issues many dogs face to help them move better and improve their quality of life and well-being.