If you’ve ever experienced a really good massage and felt wonderful about it, then it’s no surprise that your dog is going to love it too!
Pet massage is much more than petting. It manipulates skin and muscles by using specific techniques to promote healing, increase blood flow and oxygen to tissues, reduce pain and swelling and create overall well being for our canine companions.
Benefits of massage
- Promotes healthy skin and coat.
- Eases and calms a nervous, restless and anxious dog.
- Improves overall blood circulation.
- Helps with identification of any health problems including soreness, swelling or other pain in the body.
- Helps in improving and building stronger immune system.
- Improves performance for an athletic canine.
- Helps in building stronger and toned muscles.
- Acts as a great warm up and prevents any injury.
- Relieves tension, pain and discomfort.
- Extremely helpful in relieving pain caused by arthritis and hip dysplasia.
- Opens blood vessels, which allow blood to flow freely carrying oxygen to the cells and disposing of waste and by-products.
- Enhances focus, concentration and alertness.
- Relieves age-related problems.
- Acts as a passive form of exercise for inactive dogs, dogs recovering from any illness and older dogs.
When to do a massage?
Massage should always be a relaxing and gentle activity. Before beginning, make sure your dog is in a comfortable and quiet place. A table, the floor or even on the couch are good places. The area should be clean and must have plenty of fresh water available.
Your TV viewing time can be a great time to give your pet a massage. Not only is this relaxing and calming for you and your pet, but it’s also an easy way to get to grooming your pet including brushing, combing, teeth cleaning as well as giving your pet an all over health check.
Effleurage – Effleurage includes gliding your hands over the dog’s body more like gentle petting, but with the intention of identifying any oddities. This type of massage is beneficial in warming up tissues and increasing blood flow. While stroking, check for areas of heat, cold, inflammation, restricted movement and resistance.
Petrissage – This type of massage is similar to kneading the dough. It involves twisting, rolling, kneading and squeezing the skin improving blood circulation, stimulating the removal of toxins and
Laying on of hands – This technique is more like light gentle petting and stroking without applying any kind of pressure. It can also be described as a gentle touch with intention of comforting the dog. The dog suffering from hip dysplasia and arthritis require an extremely gentle and careful touch. We must refrain from any techniques that involve any kind of pressure. The best way to conform would be to gently ‘lay on hands’ or in other words, stroke or pet the dog gently on affected area.
Scratching – Scratching is something that all dogs do naturally. It helps in stimulating the overall systems of the dog’s body including circulatory, cardiovascular, neurological and autoimmune systems. It is especially wonderful for older dogs.
Word of caution
- Do not press too hard while massaging your dog. The purpose of the massage is relaxation and not therapy, so avoid going too deep into the tissues as you may end up hurting your pet. Try and keep the massage as gentle and relaxing as possible.
- Make a note of any spots where you feel soreness, swelling or anything odd to be addressed accordingly. Massage these areas with extreme care.
- If you feel your pet shows discomfort or even slight aggression at any point, stop the process immediately. Instead investigate the reason and consult the vet at the earliest.
Teach your fingertips to know your pet
Teaching yourself to know your pet’s body is a great way to check for any abnormalities that she may be experiencing. This can be achieved by giving a gentle massage to your pet.
Run your fingers through your pet’s body and help her relax first. Then, begin massaging the head to the shoulders, back, abdomen, and all over your pet’s body. While doing so, check for any sores, lumps, ticks or any muscle strain. Seek the help of a vet at the earliest to address these issues.
Is your pet resisting?
Be patient with your pet as introducing the process of massage may take some time. Your pet may resist initially if she’s never had a massage before but will soon give in to the wonders and joys of a relaxing massage. If the pet seems to be extremely uneasy, stop the process immediately. You can resume the process another day and see if your dog relaxes a little more under your hands. Learn to identify the signs of discomfort which include:
- Growling or snarling.
- Flinching or yelping.
- Flattened ears.
- Tensing or holding of breath.
- Rolling eyes.
- If there are signs of an open wound, do not massage the area.
- If your dog has had a recent surgery, consult your veterinarian first and watch your dog for signs of pain or discomfort.
- If there are bites and skin infections, stop the massage.
- If your dog has skin problems like ringworms, massage could cause it to spread.
Massaging your dog is an excellent way to spend time with her, also it gives you and your dog abundant bonding time.
(Shweta Munjal is professional pet groomer at Prince of Tails – Pet Grooming Salon, Bengaluru).