Your dog may enjoy a good massage as much as you do. Whether they are experiencing pain, suffering from an injury, or simply enjoy the feel of a good rubdown and your company, there are multiple reasons to give your dog a massage.
Dogs enjoy the connection with their human companions. Your dog likes the closeness of the members of their household. Not only does that give them a sense of pleasure, but one of bonding or connection as well. The sensations of touch, petting and cuddling help to establish and maintain the bond between a dog and the humans in their life. Massage can also increase their trust in the touch of a human companion. If they associate your touch with a pleasurable experience and time spent with you, they will enjoy a massage.
When your body aches from an injury or overuse, massage helps lessen the pain. It is the same for your dog. If your dog has sore muscles from a workout, or pain caused by an injury, massaging the sore areas will help alleviate some of the pain to make them function better, and even be able to rest with more ease. For conditions with chronic pain, such as arthritis, massage can help your dog move around with less discomfort.
If you’ve ever gotten a back rub, foot massage or hand massage, you have an idea of how soothing and relaxing this can be. Simply rubbing sore muscles and limbs can take away a great deal of physical and mental tension. Your dog feels the same way. For a hyper dog who has a hard time relaxing, the use of massage can help him calm down and let go of some of the excess energy. An anxious or nervous dog may calm down after a massage and the attention they receive during the massage.
As dogs age or when they overdo an activity, their joints may become stiff and make it more difficult and uncomfortable to move around. Unless an injury or illness keeps your dog immobile and your vet does not want your dog moving around for a specific reason, it is good to get them moving around to help relieve the stiffness and tightness in their body.
Massaging or rubbing sore joints can help with oxygenation and blood flow to the affected areas, both before and after playtime or a walk. Athletes warm up and cool down their muscles and joints before and after a competition. Dogs can benefit from a warm up and cool down as well, including massaging areas that are stiff and uncomfortable to move or sore from use.
Pain can make sleep restless and uncomfortable, or even impossible. A massage is a natural way to help your dog relax enough to get a good rest for their overall well-being and temperament. Remember how you feel when you can’t sleep and how it affects your overall mood and function the next day. It can affect your dog as well if they are in too much pain or discomfort to sleep comfortably and thoroughly.
If you are massaging your dog yourself to help alleviate discomfort or pain, do your research or talk to someone experienced in the methods that will help give your dog the most relief and comfort. Check with your vet if you have any concern about causing more damage to a dog who is already injured before you start massaging or rubbing a particular area. They may recommend a certified Canine Massage Therapist who is trained in both the physical and all around well-being of your dog. Both the vet and a therapist can give you specific massage techniques to use for maximum benefit to your dog and show you what you should or should not do to help your dog.
Massage is a positive experience that will help your dog feel good, bond with you, reinforce their trust in you, and help their overall function and temperament. An added benefit of massage is the positive association with the activity. If they enjoy a massage, you can use massage to lessen resistance to bathing, or help connect with a dog that needs to learn trust in a new home.
Touch during massage is a warming activity that gives an all-round pleasurable experience. Whether you are focusing on a particular area such as sore stiff legs or giving an allover massage, most dogs do love the experience. If they are wary of massage at first, try offering them a few tasty CANIDAE doggy biscuits. This will create a positive association with the activity and help them overcome any reluctance to a rubdown.
Read more articles by Laurie Darroch