Category Archives: canine massage therapy

Five Dog Approved Relaxing Activities

By Linda Cole

During waking hours, most dogs go a mile a minute. There’s guarding the home, or at least barking just to let their owner know they’re on the job. Then it’s off to make sure squirrels, outside cats or other critters are properly reprimanded if they step foot in the wrong yard. All of that takes time and energy, and sometimes it’s nice to just relax and enjoy some dog approved activities with their favorite human. That’s the one thing dogs enjoy more than anything else!

Being involved with your pet helps to strengthen your bond and build trust. What’s great about dogs is you don’t have to spend a lot of time doing an activity with them. They don’t ask much from us, and spending some extra time puts them on top of the world.

A Slow Walk

Many dog owners walk their dog on a daily basis, but not necessarily as a way to relax. Since I have a dog enclosure where my dogs can hang out, do their business and enjoy the day, our walks are mainly a way I can give them some mental stimulation. Dogs get tired of the same old thing day in and day out. They like a set routine, but they also enjoy an impromptu outing now and then.

A slow walk around the neighborhood or on a trail is a good way to relax. Let your dog sniff around under the bushes, while you enjoy the fresh air and everything nature has to offer. After all, if you’re too busy to stop and smell the flowers once in awhile, it really is time to slow your world down a bit. There’s something about being on a slow walk with your dog that helps both of you relax from the rigors of the day. Take your time, and if you find a bench where you can sit, enjoy some quiet time with just you and your dog.

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How to Massage an Arthritic Dog

By Langley Cornwell

My friend Karen recently adopted a senior dog with general arthritis and hip dysplasia. Good for her, right? It started with a conversation we were having about the high number of senior dogs in shelters, and how sad it was for an older dog to live out his or her days behind bars. In our local shelter, senior dogs make up about 10% of the overall population at any given time. When trying to understand why, a shelter worker told us that oftentimes families surrender their senior dogs when they reach an age where they require extra care. What a shame.

Karen’s goal is to provide her new dog, Goldie Girl, with a safe and comfortable home during her twilight years. Their union is heartwarming; it’s amazing how quickly Goldie Girl and Karen have bonded. And the dog seems to have turned back the clock several years. She holds her head a bit higher and her limp is less pronounced. Karen attributes the quick bonding and Goldie Girl’s improved physical state to massage.

The article I wrote titled The Benefits of Massage Therapy for Pets helped convince Karen that her new dog would get a lot out of regular massages, but she didn’t want to cause Goldie Girl any additional pain. Having no experience with massage, Karen went looking for advice on how to massage an older, arthritic dog. She found what she was looking for on The Dog Channel, where there is a helpful tutorial on massaging a senior dog. Here are some simple pointers.

Why massage an arthritic dog?

Arthritis is a degenerative disease that causes pain and soreness in a dog’s joints, specifically the hips, lower spine and knees, and, less severely, to the elbows and shoulders. Massaging your senior dog’s aching muscles a few minutes every day will help slow down the degenerative process of arthritis. Furthermore, massage can help relieve some of your dog’s arthritis pain and reduce some of the muscle tension associated with the disease.

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The Benefits of Massage Therapy for Pets

By Langley Cornwell

Holistic health care for our canine and feline friends is gaining traction. There are all types of herbs and remedies being touted to keep dogs and cats healthy. You may or may not embrace this mindset, but whatever you think of the trend, there is a hands-on therapy that has captured my attention. The benefits make sense to me, it’s free and it’s something I can do at home for my pets. I’m talking about pet massage.

I’ll admit to indulging in a massage once in a while. I’m convinced of the benefits of massage for me, so it stands to reason that the same would benefit my dog and my cat. Additionally, I’m a huge advocate of creating and maintaining a strong bond with your pets. Any activity you participate in together furthers that bond – so that’s another plus for giving your dog or cat a massage.

An article in Your Holistic Dog convinced me to start massaging our four-legged family members because it explained the benefits in layman’s terms. Some of the benefits are easy to quantify but other benefits of massage therapy are hard to measure. Sure, obvious mobility improvement can be measured but there are other reasons to consider pet massage. One big reason is that massage and other hands-on therapies increase the movement of your animal’s body fluids, thereby washing their internal systems. This increased fluid circulation flushes toxins and strengthens their immune system. In addition, massage is believed to provide your pet with relief from pain and from stress. As in humans, stress manifests itself in a variety of physical ways and contributes to an assortment of illnesses. Here are some of the measurable and immeasurable benefits of pet massage.

Stimulate bodily fluids and expedite recovery from surgery or sickness

As already touched on, dog and cat massage stimulates all the fluids in the body including water, lymphatic fluids and even blood. If your pet has recently undergone surgery, you can give him a massage to speed up the recovery time. Massage circulates the sedation or anesthesia through the body quicker. Moreover, the stimulation of bodily fluids helps release stored toxins and flush them from the body, thereby enabling your pet to recover more quickly from sickness. Another benefit is that the movement of lymphatic fluids can strengthen your pet’s immune system.

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How Important is the Sense of Touch for Pets?

By Linda Cole

We know how important our sense of touch is to us. Snuggling next to the one we love makes us feel good, safe and warm. Our pets respond to our touch in the same way when we give them a scratch behind the ears. My dogs love a good ear scratch so much, they will lay their head in my hand and close their eyes in response to the good feeling they are experiencing. Each dog has a sweet spot that gets their back leg kicking in pure pleasure when you rub their tummy, and you know when you’ve found your cat’s favorite spot along her back or under her chin. The sense of touch for pets is just as important to them as it is to us.

Cats and dogs have very sensitive whiskers which help them “see” in the dark. As air moves around couches and chair legs in the home, their whiskers act like little radar detectors picking up changes in the air movement. This also helps them locate prey in the dark. Dogs have a higher sensitivity to touch around their mouth which aids them when they mouth objects to determine what they are. Cats have whiskers on their legs to help them determine where their prey is and if it’s still alive. Since they can’t see things right under their nose unless they detect motion, a cat depends on their sense of touch to compensate.

Since dogs are social animals and are accustomed to living in a pack social structure, they use their sense of touch while socializing with each other. That’s one reason why your dog likes to lay beside you on the couch, your favorite chair or at your feet. It’s important for them to be with the rest of the pack and they like to be close enough to touch us. My dogs like to gather around me on the couch and lay with their head on my leg. It gets a little crowded sometimes when all of them are trying to find a vacant area on my knee.

A cat’s sensitivity to touch is their most sophisticated of all their senses. Nerve endings are connected to pressure sensitive receptors that constantly send messages to their brain giving cats the ability to always be on top of what’s going on in their world – even when they appear to be sound asleep. Their amazing sense of touch is a big reason why cats can react with a split second reaction time.

Some people believe that an animal’s sense of touch is so sensitive they can feel vibrations in the earth prior to an earthquake. Researchers have been trying for years to determine if our pets have a sixth sense that could warn of an impending earthquake, but so far, the answer has been elusive. However, there is speculation that cats especially may be able to feel vibrations through their paw pads because their pads are so sensitive to touch.

As a general rule, cats don’t like us to mess with their feet because they are sensitive, but as long as you are gentle, they do like to be tickled between the toes and pads on their feet. You know you are doing it right when they spread their toes apart so you can gently scratch in between their pads. I’ve yet to find a cat who doesn’t enjoy a good between-the-toes tickle massage every now and then.

If you’ve ever given your dog or cat a massage, you know how much they enjoy it. Not only do they benefit with better circulation and stress relief, they love the feel of our hands on their bodies. Our touch can have a calming effect on a dog who feels insecure or frightened. Have you ever watched your sleeping dog or cat when they seem to be dreaming? Dogs will move and jerk their legs as if they are running and will sometimes whine, and a cat’s whiskers will pull forward as if they are stalking a mouse or bird. Who knows what they are dreaming about, but if you gently lay your hand on their side and slowly pet them, it calms them down. So they apparently are aware of our touch even when they are asleep.

Like us, our pets have a keen sense of touch and they use it every day. They feel pain, and understand the pleasure a gentle stroke gives them when we pet them on the head or scratch behind their ears. All you have to do is notice how they respond when you scratch them between the eyes and down their nose to understand how much they enjoy the feel of a gentle touch.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Give Your Dog a Massage

By Ruthie Bently

Have you ever gotten a massage? My grandmother Ruth used to go every week for one, and until I decided to treat myself to one, I didn’t realize the benefits of getting a massage. I was relaxed and calm, and none of my muscles hurt; in fact I was so relaxed I felt like a walking bowl of Jell-O. It made me feel like I could take on the world. Now, massage has been added to the list of alternative therapies we can have done for our dogs, and you can even give your dog a massage at home.

Massage goes back to the Greeks and Hippocrates who studied the benefits of regular massage on the well-being of humans. So it only follows what we humans have known for centuries, that if massage is good for us, it should be good for our dogs as well.

Before you begin shaking your head and wondering which planet I came from, consider the benefits. Some of the benefits from massaging your dog are enhancing or increasing the bond you have with them, while providing a comforting touch. It can help calm a nervous dog, increase their flexibility and circulation, and give them a general sense of well being. It can relieve stress, and make your dog feel more secure. Massage can lead to better muscle strength, lessening of pain and muscle tension. It can even improve your dog’s behavior and self-esteem.

When massage is used for younger dogs and puppies it helps with socialization, and increases their trust level. You can even use a mouth massage to ease your puppy’s teething problems. When you massage your older dog you can find illness sooner, as your fingers may find something your eyes have missed. For example, flaking or scabs can be a sign of parasites, swelling can also be a sign of parasites, cancer and even heart disease. By massaging your dog’s back, you may even find back problems or issues due to weight gain. Not only that, massage helps slow the aging process. Massaging a geriatric dog can reduce pain associated with arthritis and other illness, stimulate their circulatory system and help them maintain their mobility.

The massage that a certified massage therapist provides is different than what you can do at home, but this doesn’t mean that massaging your dog at home is any less important. The nice thing is that you can do it yourself and it doesn’t cost you a thing. There are two basic massage techniques you can perform at home – passive touch and effleurage.

Passive touch is done without pressure and involves holding your hand on only muscle groups. You hold your hand on the thigh and hip or on your dog’s shoulder, side or head without pressure for a few moments. It can be done any time whether you are relaxing, out for your daily walk or even while you are watching TV.

Effleurage is used to help warm your dog’s body tissues and involves a long, gentle stroke. You want to use an extremely light touch. You keep one hand on your dog all the time, while you use the other hand to move down your dog’s body. Start with your dog’s face and move your hand down their head, body, outside of their legs and finally their tail. First you want to move your hands in the direction that your dog’s hair grows. Then just as gently, stroke your dog up the inside of their legs, in the opposite direction of the way their hair grows. Try not to pull your dog’s hair while doing this. There are two other varieties of effleurage; centripetal is done toward the heart in a circular motion, and the other is done hand-over-hand with one hand beginning a stroke as your other hand is ending a stroke.

Before beginning to massage your dog, you should have them in a place that is both quiet and comfortable for them. It can be done on the couch, bed, the floor or even a table. Make sure the area is clean, has plenty of padding and that a fresh dish of water is available for your dog. You want your dog to be relaxed, so if your dog is not interested don’t force them to participate. Don’t massage your dog if they have a fever, and if your dog has any kind of lump, an open wound or an infection (like a hot spot) you should never massage that area.

When I have a few extra minutes I massage Skye, and have found that it does help to keep her calm and more relaxed. I think if you try this on your own dog, you will notice a difference as well. Why not give it a try? I think you will be pleasantly surprised!

Special thanks to Donna’s dog “Lily” for posing for our picture.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.