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Why Pamper Your Pooch with Massage Therapy?
When we think of a pampering massage, the immediate association for most people is relaxation. You can bring this special treat to your dog as well. Massage therapy for animals is technically ‘touch therapy’, helping to improve both physical and mental wellbeing.
There are multiple benefits of this alternative therapy for your pet, including but not limited to relaxation, flexibility and pain relief. Massage is also used for rehabilitation purposes, emotional wellbeing, and improved circulation. As massage releases endorphins, the happy chemical, it correlates to being a fantastic bonding activity for both you and your dog. As a lovely side benefit of massaging your dog is that you distribute the natural oils leading to a healthy skin and coat.
It is important to remember to consult your local pet health care provider before initiating a massage treatment to make sure the massage with be beneficial and not detrimental to your pet.
With a spare ten minutes a day, you can provide your dog with a ‘maintenance’ massage. Massage can be beneficial for all stages of your pets life from puppy, adult to senior. It is also a great time to do a general health check for fleas, knots in the coat and look for plaque on your pets teeth!
Start with only 1-2 minutes of massage, then you can gradually increase this time as your pet gets used to his new routine. Begin by inviting your pet to lie down, and rub him in his favourite spots to start his relaxation.
Here are 3 techniques to get started:
Laying on of Hands – At the very basic level you can use the ‘laying on of hands’ technique. You simply warm the underlying tissues and stimulate circulation by applying your hands on your pets body without applying pressure or creating movement. This can be very soothing to sore muscles or arthritis, a very gentle, calming and safe massage.
Kneading the Dough – Essentially gently picking up the skin, rolling, kneading and squeezing to release spasms and toxins. The key word is gentle, we are not after a deep tissue massage here.
Flow Stroke – As its name describes, a long flowing stroke that relaxes your dog, warms the tissues, increases oxygen and blood flow. This technique can also be used as a precursor to stronger body work.
Circles – Light pressure circles with the palms of your hands. Small circles for small dogs, and larger circles for larger dogs, making your way from top to tail.
- Massage around your dogs joints, not directly on.
- Don’t overwork one area
- Don’t massage the back or belly of a pregnant dog
- Wait a few hours after your pet has eaten
- A massage should last around 10-15 minutes maximum
- Maintain contact with your dog at all times, this allows connection between you.
NOTE: If your pet in any way shows discomfort by pulling away from you, flinching, growling or any other behavioural signs, STOP. Your pet may be telling you he has a very sore spot, in which case you should contact your veterinarian.