Learning dog massage: how to properly relax your dog

Dog massage

Dogs love a good relaxing massage too.

There's nothing better than a massage for deep relaxation. Your dog will certainly agree! It doesn't matter if your dog is sick or healthy. Read here how you can truly pamper your dog and why a dog massage is good for its health. 

What effect does a dog massage have?

Dog massages have been renowned for a long time for their positive effects on canine health. As a result, they aren't just given in veterinary practices, but in the homes of dog owners too. 

Targeted pressure on the muscles relieves painful tension and reduces circulatory disorders. The latter increases the body's oxygen supply, which has an anti-inflammatory effect. 

Nervous disorders can also be alleviated by dog massage, since the nerves are mechanically stimulated by the movements. At the same time, this leads to the relaxation of the body.

Learning dog massage – Step by step

With the following steps, it is possible for you to perform a gentle massage on your dog in no time at all: 

  1. Ensure a relaxed and cosy atmosphere before the massage takes place. Speak calmly to your dog and place a soft blanket on a flat surface. The surface (e.g. a stable table) should be at your hip height so that you don't put excessive strain on your back during the massage. 
  2. Lay your dog on its side and stroke it with the palm of your hand, beginning with the head. Work your way down to the neck and back to the legs and paws. 
  3. Massage your dog's head by applying gentle pressure to its forehead and cheeks with circular motions. Always be aware of your dog's behaviour. If it appears unsettled, you should apply less pressure. 
  4. The ears come next. You should also gently massage them with circular motions. 
  5. You can apply more pressure to the muscles when you reach the neck and back. Since your dog cannot reach these areas itself, you can knead these areas particularly intensively. Try to massage every muscle group and avoid protruding bone areas like the vertebrae. 
  6. Release tension in the legs by gently stroking the muscles and tendons from top to bottom. There are a great deal of noticeable bones here, which is why you have to be particularly careful with the limbs. 
  7. Since dog paws are particularly sensitive to touch, they should be handled with care. Try to knead the pads with increasing pressure and gently stretch each joint. Don't forget the areas between the claws. 
Dog receiving a massage
Dog massages can be helpful in many cases.

When does my dog need a massage?

In general, you can give your dog a massage at any time – regardless of age and state of health. However, massage is particularly practical in the following cases: 

For stress

Dogs can get stressed too. In this case, they are prone to muscle tension. In order to reduce this painful tension, it helps to massage the affected muscle parts and move the affected joints in a controlled way. Dog massage also helps your dog to relax and reduce stress. 

In high-performance sport

The muscles of very sporty dogs are put under particularly severe strain. Massages can be given before and after dog sport to protect them from painful tension and injuries. 

For diseases of the joint and muscle system

Dog massages are commonly given in veterinary medicine for joint, tendon and muscle disorders. The most common health reasons for a mandated dog massage are: 

  • Muscular shortening and atrophy 
  • Shortening, adhesions and inflammation of the joints 
  • Rheumatic diseases 
  • Paralysis 
  • Joint diseases (e.g. arthrosis) in young dogs and senior dogs with or without clinical symptoms 

After operations

Dogs are often limited in terms of mobility for several days or even weeks following invasive surgery, such as after abdominal or cruciate ligament rupture surgery. They lie more on one side during this period, therefore painful pressure points and muscle tensions develop. 

Physiotherapy is very helpful in order to avoid this and continue to stimulate the muscles. If your dog is stationary in a veterinary clinic, treatment is usually carried out on site by a veterinary surgeon or a knowledgable veterinary nurse. Continuing with massage at home is recommended so that physiotherapy doesn't lose its benefit once your furry friend has been discharged. 

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