Dog massage: magic at the finger tips
Love, companionship and fidelity that a dog can offer are boundless. Whenever your pooch is ill, your pet feels better when petted and touched. Here, Jill A Deming introduces an advanced method, body massage, to promote both the physical and emotional well-being of our furry friends.
I arrived at the house to conduct a massage session with a Miniature Poodle named Castro. I had been seeing him on a monthly basis for a year. Although this was the first time I had seen Castro since he had undergone major surgery on his intestinal tract. He was healing at a remarkable rate – his veterinarians were quite pleased. I unfolded the portable grooming table and began work. He soon relaxed and his pulse rate and breathing slowed. The other animals in the house – 3 dogs and 2 cats – began to approach the table and sit at my feet, as if drawn to Castro’s relaxation. It is a response I often see in household animals that aren’t being massaged. As I began the session with Castro, I gently warmed the skin and muscle tissue with my hands. Gradually, I began feeling for muscle knots, tension and other irregularities in the tissue. Slowly I worked them out, returning to the more compromised areas, using various techniques.
How massage works
Massage is a deliberate and focused technique of touching and the manipulation of muscles and skin to promote well-being. It enables an injured animal to harness its innate resources and capabilities, thereby speeding recovery and correction of a range of physical deficiencies and emotional challenges. When skin receptors are stimulated, they transmit messages to the brain. Once the brain receives these messages, it initiates the production of chemicals that feed major body systems such as the blood, muscles, nerve cells, tissues, and organs. Massage is a vehicle that stimulates these skin receptors and releases the chemicals necessary for the body’s optimum performance.
The health issues and the needs of each dog is different so, a variety of ‘tools’ must be available for the canine massage therapist. Massage is divided into categories that are further divided into techniques. Therefore, a canine massage therapist has numerous techniques to choose from when faced with a particular situation.
“Effleurage” is a sweeping motion performed in the direction of the lymph nodes and encourages toxins to be carried out of the body. I conclude each session with this move because it helps the body to clear any toxins I may have stirred up in the course of the massage.
Consider a litter of puppies playing and tussling with one another. This is a rudimentary form of massage. They are stimulating each other’s skin receptors and increasing the development of their brains.
Massage is particularly effective in treatment of injuries and can also be very effective in treating swelling, muscle spasms, scar tissue, strains, sprains, torn muscles and ligaments, lameness, post-foaling difficulties, and general trauma. It has been proved that animals who receive regular sessions of massage often heal from trauma at a faster rate than those who don’t receive massage.
Massage helps an animal who temporarily has its activity level curtailed by encouraging circulation throughout the system. It does this by dilating blood vessels, which increases the rate at which blood-borne nutrients and oxygen reach cells. The increased circulation also removes waste products such as lymph and lactic acid. Because muscle tissue is comprised of cells, this results in healthier tissue.
Continuous massage helps to reduce the output of ACTH (a stress hormone) that aids the immune system in maintaining its health and disease-fighting capabilities. Constant stress weakens the immune system and makes an animal more likely to succumb to infection.
Blows, wounds or any other type of trauma to the body can cause fibrous tissue adhesions beneath the skin. This impedes the proper movement of the muscles, resulting in future health problems. Tissue adhesions can be considerably reduced by the proper use of massage.
A dog who has scars on his body will benefit from massage in that area because it will contribute to break up the tissue adhessions and allow the muscles to move as they need to. For puppies, massage is useful in stimulating the flow of blood to the bones, thereby nourishing the skeletal system. It aids in the development of nerve pathways in the cortex and sub cortex of the brain, resulting in a more rapid rate of learning.
If you are interested in massage for your dog, ensure that you utilise the services of a certified canine massage therapist.
(Jill A Deming is a biologist, and had numerous years of working experience with exotic animals as a zookeeper. She now lives in the Virginia and specializes in canine and equine massage. More info can be had from www.jdanimals.com)
– by Jill A Deming