In the same way humans use massages for issues from a sore back, stiff shoulder or a busy brain– massage is one of the best ways for people and dogs to loosen up and relax. In veterinary medicine, dog massage therapy is used as a complementary therapy to help treat health issues from arthritis to certain injuries.
‘Holistic’ means that the whole body is treated rather than just the injured spot. Often there is referred pain from the primary area of injury to another part of the body – the secondary area.
During a canine massage, the therapist manipulates the muscles and soft tissues in a specific, intentional way that gets the blood circulating, reduces lactic acid, and stimulates the cells, resulting in a variety of positive health and wellness benefits.
The effects of massage are not just on the muscular system, but on all the systems of the body, so a thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology is essential to ensure that no harm is done and that your dog benefits in every way from their treatment.
What are the Benefits of Massage?
Goh Suhan heals canines in need with Canine Myo-fascial Functional Manipulative Therapy (CMFMT), a branch of massage therapy that specifically promotes health in canines. The massage can help with issues such as stiff joints and muscles, pain, and circulation. It is also extremely beneficial in more senior dogs suffering from age-related conditions and dogs that suffer from stress-related anxiety.
“Beyond physical benefits, CMFMT promotes a healthy nervous system and hence good mental health by promoting the production of endorphins which is not only a pain-relieving neurochemical but is also responsible for giving our dogs a euphoric high and making them feel good. The release of serotonin which is a neurotransmitter, energises them and keeps them from becoming depressed,” says Goh who is a regular volunteer at the animal shelter, Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD).
Dr. Rachel Barrack, a New York City-based veterinarian and founder of Animal Acupuncture tells PetMd that petting a dog or cat can lower heart rate and blood pressure. “Touching your pet will also cause your body to release oxytocin, a hormone that causes sensations of bonding and love,” says Dr. Barrack.
Before a dog massage therapy
From puppies to seniors, all dogs can benefit from dog massage therapy, Dr. Barrack tells PetMd.
However, it’s not quite as simple as giving your dog a shoulder rub. Dog massage therapy uses strategic, often intense pressure to manipulate the soft tissues of the body, so it’s important to have your dog seen by a professional.
If you’d like to try therapeutic massage for your pet, ask your veterinarian to refer you to a certified animal massage therapist.
The results of canine massage therapy vary and depend on presenting issues. Dogs will react in different ways and often there are some added extra benefits you can expect.
- Better posture
- Reduced stiffness
- Increased joint mobility
- Improved agility
- Relief from pain and stress
- Improved appetite
- Improved skin and coat
- Mental wellness
- Relief from chronic ongoing orthopaedic and neurological conditions