Most dogs are natural athletes, and like dedicated athletes they “play through the pain.” Dogs won't tell you when they are stiff, sore, when they've pulled a muscle, or when something just isn't quite right. They’ll just tough it out, going about their daily business of walking, running, romping and playing with often no indication there is a problem until it becomes serious. Many dog owners are taking matters into their own hands by consulting people who professionally practice massage therapy for pets. Experienced canine massage practitioners understand the workings of a dog's muscular system and they can likely both help alleviate pain caused by a present or persistent problem and prevent injury. Additionally – just like therapeutic massage for humans - it can help to reduce tension and stress levels in dogs of all ages and activity levels.
For dogs who regularly participate in athletics such as agility coursing, flyball, retrieving competitions, lure courses or regular games of catch in the park, injury can be a concern. Massage therapy can help keep the dog's muscles warm and loose, thereby potentially reducing the risk of injury and increasing performance levels. Massage can also help the dog recover more quickly if an injury does occur, and can decrease the “down time” needed in between competitions. Many proponents of canine massage will testify that massage can also keep a dog active longer, and can prolong their competitive careers.
When a dog is injured, has had surgery, or suffers a prolonged illness, massage therapy can aid in, and speed up, recovery time. Since all the body’s systems work together, the healing touch of skilled massage can help ease a dog's pain and speed up recovery. Massage can not only help to alleviate pain and inflammation, but can also help ease the dog's state of mind, keeping stress levels low during recovery.
Many dogs have special needs that can be addressed through therapeutic massage. Therapeutic massage has helped dogs with behavioral problems and severe anxiety by helping them to relax so they can learn healthier interactive skills. Rescue dogs who have trouble adjusting to their new lives also benefit from massage therapy, as do senior canines who may suffer from joint problems and arthritis.
Puppies can also benefit from massage. The touch gets them used to being handled by a human which can make going to the vet a lot less stressful. It’s also used as a socialization tool, increasing the dog's trust in humans, while providing relief from the aches and pains that come with growing bones and muscles.
Dogs who perform high stress tasks like search and rescue or police work could also benefit from the relaxing nature of therapeutic massage. Just like people who perform high-stress tasks, these dogs need a chance to relax and unwind too.
Overall benefits of Canine Massage
- Eases muscle and joint pain
- Improves flexibility and better balance
- Improves circulation and immune function
- Increases willingness to accept touch
- Increases trust in humans
- Eases tension and anxiety
- Detects potential problems
- Reduces risk of potential injury
- Reduced recovery time from injury or illness
- Increases bond between pet and owner
- Achieve and maintain healthy activity levels
- Increases quality of life