Giving or getting a massage is a wonderful way to spend time with a loved one. The touch that you share with them during that time can go very far to create a bond, build trust, and show affection, but what if your loved one is a dog?
Not a problem! Dogs love close contact, and respond powerfully to touch, but if a dog massage is something you’ve never thought of doing, then you’re not likely to know where to begin. Here are a few tips for giving your dog a massage.
The Daily RubDown
It doesn’t take much time to give your dog a healthy massage. It shouldn’t be a problem getting him used to it, your dog will simply enjoy the extra love time. Start with some simple petting, so your dog will know he’s in for a good time. Then, begin the massage using a flat hand to become aware of your dog’s entire body. Feel their frame through their hair, and pay very close attention to their muscle structures. My dog, Bo, was just at the vet the other day, and I noticed that she did this very thing, checking him for any unusual lumps or bumps.
Next, gently knead and compress the muscles. Not only will this build a stronger trust bond, but it will also serve the purpose of showing you exactly what is normal for your dog’s body and general health. If any changes develop over time, you will be able to detect those changes in your dog’s muscles and body temperature. This will also alert you to any changes that could be life threatening for your dog, and will empower you with the ability to communicate specific details about changes with the veterinarian.
Warm Up Massage
When an athlete is preparing for a tournament, they are likely to perform a series of stretches and exercises that prepare them for the activity. Animals are also in need of this behavior to some extent. Stretching and rubbing your dog can prepare them for times of rigorous play. This can help them to avoid injury.
Begin by giving them a full body rub down. Rub your dog’s neck, shoulders, chest, and buttock muscles in a circular motion with the heel of your hand. After that, rub front and back legs, ending with gentle squeezing. Very gently stretch your dog’s legs through their range of motion, being careful not to over-stretch. When you are finished, end with a quick full body rub and another petting.
For Older Dogs
As your dog grows older, it is sometimes very difficult for them to do the things they used to do because of joint pain and swelling. A massage routine can help an older dog improve their health in many ways. Pet the hip and shoulder areas to warm them up and prepare them for the massage. Very light kneading and compression can bring more blood and fluids into the muscle to help alleviate pain and increase functionality. Never use hard sudden movements. End with petting the area, and make it a regular routine to help them improve their quality of life.
Professional Dog Massage
If you are interested in getting your dog a professional massage, there are masseuses who work on both people and animals, and others who work on animals exclusively, called Animal Massage Therapists. Just look online or ask your vet for someone in your area.
Hey! My dog just left me a tip for his massage. Who’s a good boy!