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26 Home Techniques for Dog Massage
Top 21 Essential Oils for Dog Massage
21 Tips for Dog Massage
Why to Massage a Dog?
25 Benefits of Dog Massage
9 Types of Dogs Who can Benefit from Massage
10 Areas to Massage Your Dog
Stress Relief & Pain Recovery Dog Massage
Effleurage & Petrissage Dog Massage Techniques
Dogs That Should Not Receive a Massage
Alternative Dog Massage Therapy
How to Massage Gas Out of the Dog
How to Give a Massage to Dog
Crucial Areas for Dog Massage
Dog Massage Techniques
Video Guides to Dog Massage
Why Do Dogs Love the Massage
How to Massage a Dog to Sleep
Dog Head Massage
Dog Back Massage Techniques
Water Massage for Dogs
Ways to Massage a Dog
Essential Oils For Dog Massage
Is it good to massage your dog?
Where is the best part to massage a dog?
Do dogs like getting massaged?
Where to rub a dog to calm them down?
How to Massage a Dog?
Where to Massage a Dog?
How to Massage Dog's Paws
How to Massage a Senior Dog
Deep Tissue Dog Massage
How to Massage a Puppy
Dog Ears Massage Guide
Massage for Dog's Hip Dysplasia
Aromatherapy Dog Massage
Recovery Dog Neck Massage
Dog Massage to Calm & Relax
How to Become Certified in Dog Massage
Injury Rehabilitation Dog Massage
Clinical Canine Massage
Therapeutic Manual Massage for Dogs
Dog Pressure Acupunture Stress Points of Dog
Dog Massage Training Courses
Dog Massage Therapy
Dog vs Human Massage
Canine Massage
Dog Massage Benefits
Arthritis Dog Massage
Canine Massage Books
Anxiety Dog Massage
Dog Neck & Ears Massage
Dog Massage Tools
Dog Massage Training
Rehabilitation Dog Massage
Tapping Technique

WARNING! All the information presented here ONLY for educational purposes and NOT being a substitute for professional veterinary help !

Canine massage therapy is a holistic therapeutic technique that promotes health and rejuvenation in dogs.

Canine massage is not a substitute for veterinary care. As a complementary therapy, it can help to maintain your dog's health and can help shorten recovery time from illness, injury or surgery.

Just like with people, massaging your dog can relieve pain and stress, calm nerves, and strengthen the bond between you and your pup

To prevent any kind of injure - you should be very careful with massaging your dog! When you are getting in and working with muscles, you want to work with someone who is trained and understands the anatomy and how much pressure is safe.

Always work under the direction of a veterinary physiotherapist
Be aware that whilst massage is beneficial, there are circumstances, such as infection or cancer, when massage of a particular area is not advisable


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1. Performance Dogs
Dogs that compete in agility, flyball, field trials, obedience, and other activities can benefit from massage and stretching. It improves muscle tone and lengthens their stride. Which results in increased range of motion and allows for more fluid movement. This reduces the rate of sports-related injuries.

2. Show Dogs
Show dogs must show the proper balance, reach and gait that conforms to a specific standard for their breed. First and foremost, it is important that they be moving fluidly and comfortably in order to perform their best. Massage helps to achieve that ideal fluidity of movement and balance in gait. Massage can also calm show dogs and give them focus before getting into the ring. It can give that dog the competitive edge over other dogs in the ring. Most importantly, it can be the defining difference between a dog that is "Best In Show" and a dog that did not win any titles.

3. Working Dogs
Dogs who provide a service by working with us can also benefit from regular massage. Herding dogs, police dogs, service dogs, hunting dogs, search and rescue dogs, and drug or bomb detection dogs fall into this category. Massage can reduce the tension and muscle soreness from pulling against a harness. Moreover, it can relieve aches and pains from walking over rough surfaces for long periods, or climbing over rubble and debris. Or racing through the woods after a downed water fowl. Massage also helps to counteract the high stress level that some dogs acquire along with their demanding jobs.

4. Anxious & Nervous Dogs
Shelter dogs recently adopted and brought into a new home, or just dogs that have a nervous personality can benefit from a massage. It helps build confidence and trust in human touch for those dogs that have trust issues. And it really helps anxious dogs learn how to relax!

5. Post-Injury & Post-Surgery Dogs
If recovering from soft tissue damage or orthopedic surgery having had a joint or ligament repaired or replaced, massage can aid in quicker recovery. Veterinarians are increasingly recommending swim therapy and massage therapy for injured and recovering pets. It speeds up the rehabilitation and healing process and helps to ensure the animal makes a full recovery. Rehabilitation massage can be beneficial when used in conjuction with veterinary care. It can shorten recovery time and keep muscles from reaching a state of atrophy. And it can also aid in preventing re-injury and decreases the pain and discomfort of recovery. Essentially, it helps to ease the transition back into normal movement.

6. Young Dogs & Puppies
Puppies and young dogs are highly active and are still in the process of learning how their bodies move. The constant activity level of these spunky little devils, combined with growth spurts, and put stress on their bodies. Which may cause a moderate amount of pain - growing pains. Massage can help ease the discomfort of rapidly growing bones and muscles. It can also help the young pup to calm down and relax, and help to reduce injuries induced by rough and tumble play.

7. Pregnant Dogs
Carrying and whelping a litter can be highly stressful on a dog's body. Massage can aid in adjusting her displaced bones. It can also ease the stress in her joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments from carrying extra weight. Additionally, massage can help to alleviate the psychological stress of carrying the litter. Massage can also benefit her once the litter has been born. It can help to calm her throughout the whelping and weaning process.

8. Dogs With Joint or Mobility Issues
Dogs with arthritis, hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, or other similar disorders can benefit from massage. When combined with a proper diet and exercise, massage can increase a dog's flexibility and range of motion, allowing for more mobility. Regular massage of dogs with joint disease or malformations can play a significant role in keeping their joints moving and comfortable.

9. Older & Senior Dogs
Just like with humans, dogs experience aches and pains with getting older. Common ailments in elderly dogs are: Stiff joints, Decrease in flexibility and range of motion and Fatigue or atrophy in certain muscles from lack of use. Massage helps to improve muscle tone and restore balance to dogs exhibiting the problems above. It aids in joint flexibility and an increase in range of motion. Ultimately, it can help older pets achieve a higher level of movement with more ease and less discomfort.

If your dog exhibits any of the following conditions or behaviors, heis likely not a good candidate for massage:

Fever or Contagious Disease
If your animal has a fever or a contagious disease such as ringworm, a skin infection, anemia, or leukemia.

Dogs Exhibiting Human Aggression
If your animal exhibits human aggression, a massage may not be possible.

Severe Fear or Trust Issues
A massage is not recommended for these animals, as they may never fully relax and enjoy the benefits of a massage.


This article is proudly presented by

Phil Mutz
Chelsea Clark
Leslie DeMatteo
Scott H

The benefits of massage have long been studied in humans and the results in animals are proving to be the same. Massaging your dog might sound a bit strange to some, but it can greatly improve the quality of life for both of you. Not only can it be used as a natural treatment for certain ailments, it can provide a relaxing way of life if you implement it into your daily routine. There are several benefits of massage that should be addressed, so if you are still on the fence, consider these points.


1. Relieve muscular tension, spasms and pain

2. Reduce trigger point formation

3. Reduces formation of excessive scar tissue (less scar tissue build up means better mobility)

4. Increase range of motion

5. Improve tone in weak muscles

6. Relieve intestinal gas and aid in digestion

7. Interrupt the pain cycle by activating sensory receptors

8. Increase & Improve the Circulation and movement of lymphatic fluids. Stimulating the muscles and tissues of the body increases circulation and this improved blood flow brings healing. Increased circulation allows more oxygen to reach the tissues and if there are any wounds, inside or outside of the body, this oxygen will promote faster, more comfortable healing. Massage has also been shown to improve range of motion and lower the heart rate. This also relieves muscle spasms and reduces toxic compounds like lactic acid, which cause pain and discomfort

9. Increase lymphatic circulation and immunity

10. Decrease blood pressure and reduce heart rate

11. Calm dogs, massage increases dopamine and serotonin levels and is linked to decreased stress levels

12. Relax dogs, massage is known for its ability to offer both mental and physical relaxation. Physical touch reduces stress and has been shown to alleviate anxiety and aggression in nervous dogs. They become more used to human interaction and are positively rewarded for it by the physical pleasures of massage, all while healing their emotions. Calming and relaxing your dog will also help heal traumas and illnesses, so the relaxation aspect of massage helps here too

13. Spend Quality Time Together. We all love petting our dogs, so why not turn it into a great massage session? Spending quality time with your dog or each of your dogs, if you have more than one, is important to keep your bond strong. We want our dogs to trust us with their lives as we provide for them, so making them feel comfortable being around us is important. Even the most independent dogs wants to spend time with their humans, and most dogs love a good scratch or belly rub

14. Early Detection. Getting a feel of your dog's body is beneficial when it comes to early detection. You will be able to feel wounds that you can not see through your dog's coat, or any lumps and bumps that might be developing inside your dog's body. These things can be felt before seen, so taking notes when you massage your pooch and noting what is abnormal will help your veterinarian determine the issue. Early detection is critically important in treating many illnesses and massage will certainly help

15. Dog Massage fosters an overall feeling of well-being by alleviating anxiety and physical strain

16. Dog Massage shortens healing time of strained muscles and sprained ligaments

17. Dog Massage provides greater joint flexibility and increases their range of motion

18. Improves Proprioception - the outside information feedback mechanism in the dog's body that helps with movement and balance

19. Stimulates liver and kidney function

20. Aids in digestion

21. Promotes deeper and easier breathing

22. Enhances the health and nourishment of the skin and coat

23. It promotes better body function. A lot of things can be improved by a massage including circulation and blood pressure, massaging your dog increases their circulation and lowers their blood pressure. A massage can also make their immune system stronger, enhance their lymphatic fluid movement, help their digestion and stimulate their liver and kidneys

24. It forges a stronger bond. Your dog may not understand what is going on at first, they will soon realize that what you are doing is making them feel better. Knowing it is you behind why they are feeling good strengthens your bond

25. Improve Your Health! Giving your dog a massage is also good for you. It reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and elevates our moods. This is why so many pet owners tend to be happier people! This is also why therapy animals are so important - science has shown that petting animals greatly improves the mental and physical health of people, regardless of whether or not they want to admit it.







This article is proudly presented by

Tania Griffis
Phil Mutz

Just as there are reflexology points that a person can massage to maintain a healthy body, there are just as many points on your dog's body that can be enormously beneficial to their health. Massaging specific areas of your dog can be good for very specific organs, systems, and parts of the body.


A good massage can reduce your dog's anxiety, improve its digestion, strengthen their immune system, relieve muscle tension, and increase joint flexibility. Try spending 10 minutes a day massaging your dog and see how your dog reacts. After a few days of regular massage you will notice how different massage techniques work for your dog and you will be able to choose the right strategy.


Have you ever gone in for acupuncture? It is believed that humans have pressure points. Once activated, they can affect different parts of our mind and body. The same can be said for dogs. Dogs have a huge list of pressure points. As you give them the massage, pay close attention to their pressure points, especially if you are trying to address a specific issue. For example, if your dog has been anxious, you might want to massage the pressure point that calms their mind - right behind their ears. Here are the most common dog issues and where the pressure points are for them.


1. Coughing - the front of the chest

2. Stomach issues - Right above the ankle

3. Back Pain - On their back next to the 5th lumbar vertebra

4. Stiff neck or arthritis - Between the dog's wrist and elbow

5. Hip Pain - In the depression behind the hip joint


Always pay attention to your dog's ears. The ears are the part of your dog most closely related to stress and anxiety levels. Massaging the ear and ear flaps will relax and invigorate her entire body. Paying close attention to the ears can help combat their stress as well as overall fatigue. Gently pull ear flaps and massage them to improve the blood circulation. Rotate ear flaps to open the ear canal and increase the air circulation. Finish the massage by gliding your fingers down the ear flaps. Be careful and avoid applying too much pressure on the dog's ears.

A dog's head contains muscles, organs, and numerous blood vessels which will all benefit from the increased blood flow provided by a good massage. The muscles located in the dog's head suffer from tension and spasms just like all the other muscles in the body, so a head massage will also help to relieve stress and muscle stiffness. Follow these simple steps to give a good head massage to your dog.

It should only take you 10-15 minutes. Be gentle and do not apply too much pressure to the sensitive areas of the head, otherwise your dog can become nervous. Sometimes you have to go beyond simply scratching your dog on the head. Massaging their head can have some truly incredible benefits for their nervous system and their stomach. Your dog's nervous system is directly correlated to the cranial area. Pressure points near the eye are associated to the stomach, bladder, and gallbladder.

Everyone deserves a pat on the back now and then, and your dog is no exception. Massaging the back of your dog is good for combatting restlessness or hyperactivity. Back massage can calm down a hyper puppy or a reactive adult dog. Other benefits associated with massaging the back include improved stomach health, increased skin elasticity, and increased comfort with human touch.

There are different techniques of a spinal dog massage that serve different needs. Flat hand massage, for example, will help to relax your dog and stretch the skin and muscles, while back and forth rolling motions will improve the blood circulation and unlock contracted muscles. Follow these steps to choose the best back massage technique for your dog. Take into account that if your dog's back aches badly and you press it hard, the pet might leave or even bite you, so be gentle.

If your dog is suffering from digestive issues, the belly is a great place to focus your massage. Working the belly with the palm of your hand will help your dog's stomach muscles to relax. In the long run, this will help them to stay more regular, and will cut down on gas and bloating. Improper diet, overeating, parasites, and other factors may lead to dogs having problems with digestion. Massage your dog's belly with gentle circular, clockwise movements to stimulate the colon and eliminate stomach issues.

Your dog's legs are absolutely crucial to their ability to run, play, and function overall. Massaging your dog's front legs is a great idea prior to any physical activity. Warming up the muscles will not only help prevent injury, but it is good for your dog's joint health. Working in the crease behind your dog's elbow will help him cope with infections and allergies. Whether young or old, your dog can suffer from muscle strain, arthritis, and joint problems. A leg massage will help to soothe the pain and relieve fatigue. This video gives detailed instructions on how to perform a leg massage that loosens up your dog's muscles.

Just as the chest is an important area when it comes to human health, the chest is also one of the most important areas that you can massage on your dog. The chest is directly connected to your pet's circulatory system, so a gentle rub can be good for their overall heart health. This area can also be known to have a positive influence on their blood pressure.

The area where the head and neck connect is where the parasympathetic nervous system is located, so massaging this area may have a calming effect. This area is also connected to the circulatory system which makes chest massage beneficial for heart health and blood pressure. This video will give you a hint on how to perform the proper massage movements.

The paws can be one of the most sensitive areas on your dog, because the paws are actually directly connected to many different parts of the body. Massaging your dog's paws can be great for the health of several of their body's systems. This area also is great for building trust between your dog and yourself. Giving your dog a paw massage is similar to giving a human a foot or hand massage. It will relax your dog, improve the blood circulation, and give you some time to check your dog's paws for any abnormalities. Follow these detailed instructions to give your dog an enjoyable paw massage.

Similar to the front legs, the hind legs are a great place to massage before any extreme physical activity. This spot can help increase your dog's overall flexibility, and improve their range of motion. Paying attention to the pelvic area just above the hind legs can be great for the rest and relaxation responses of the body - for example, sleep, digestion, and tissue repair.

If you notice that instead of turning its head to look at things your dog turns the entire body, it may mean that your pet has a stiff and sore neck. Dogs can strain or injure their necks easily, so it is better to visit a vet to exclude any serious injuries. If it is not injured, try this massage technique to relax the dog's neck and relieve any pain or stiffness. If its neck causes your dog some discomfort, you will probably need to use petting and treats during the massage to keep your dog calm.

And, as if the specifically focused massage benefits were not enough, there are a massive amount of overall massage benefits that might just encourage you to give your canine a full body workover. Beyond the obvious benefits of relieving muscle tension, it can be a powerful tool for realigning the spine and body. Massage aids in the circulation of the body, which assists the joints and muscles to flush toxins from the tissues. Dog body massage increases energy, concentration, and alertness, heightens immune system function, promotes longevity, and slows degenerative processes.

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Laura Arseneau
Karen Spinelli
Valerie Black

Several strokes and techniques used in human massage are practiced in canine massage for similar reasons. These techniques include Swedish Massage, Myofascial Release, Positional Release, Reflexology, Watsu, Trigger Point Therapy, Orthobionomy, various Osteopathic techniques or Acupressure, to name a few.

Many of the multitude of massage techniques share some of the same basic strokes but the application of these strokes may vary slightly depending on the intent of the stroke and the practitioners skill level. There are 3 techniques that are simple enough for you to do at home, while still providing your dog with the wonderful health benefits canine massage has to offer.



Passive Touch - All massages should start out with passive touch, which is simply placing your hands on the dog's body and holding them there for several seconds up to a few minutes, to help warm up the tissues and get the blood circulating. In cases where the dog is unfamiliar with the practitioner like a new handler, in the case of a canine athlete, it allows the dog to get accustomed to their touch. If the dog becomes restless or uncomfortable with this approach, simply start providing gentle strokes, like effleurage, to help calm him.

Effleurage - Effleurage is a slow gliding movement using the entire palm and closed fingers with a continuous motion along the dog's body. It helps the circulation of blood and lymph fluids to warm the tissues and to help calm the dog, and should be used at the beginning and at the end of a massage session. Long, soothing strokes used to begin and end the massage. This technique helps the dog relax, warms up the underlying tissues, and encourages blood flow throughout the body.

Petrissage - Petrissage is a kneading motion, using the thumb and first two or three fingers, forming small, overlapping half circles. Using a slow, rhythmic pace, it compresses and squeezes the tissues up and away from bone and muscle. Touch is constant and helps to boost circulation and oxygenation by separating the muscle fibres and draining the toxins. It is important that you perform effleurage and petrissage very slowly with even pressure to avoid causing nerve irritation, which can make the dog feel uneasy. A rule of thumb - If you think you are going slowly - go slower! Kneading or rolling motions that increase blood flow and lymphatic drainage and stimulate the removal of any toxins that may be trapped in the tissues.

Compression - This is done by gently pressing the muscle against the bone to help spreads muscle fibers and increase circulation. Applying two hands on opposite sides of the limbs, not pressing very hard at all.

Friction - Helps to loosen up joints, tendons and muscles as well as increasing circulation. Applied with your thumb and finger tips or the palm of your hand, usually in a circular motion.


1. Still Holds
The first "move" is just holding your dog. The key is for you to relax, focus and breathe. Ground yourself first so there are no distractions - gentle relaxing music is fine! This time is for you and your dog. Then, using both hands, place one on your dog's chest and one on the withers - the upper back towards your dog's collar. If your dog moves away, beckon again and let him or her come back to you. Never force a massage!

You want your dog to have a positive association with this type of touch. Breathe in and out. Then go to other areas, like withers and rump, just before the tail, mid back and belly, over each shoulder, over each hip.

2. Broad Strokes
Using a relaxed, open hand, stroke lightly down either side of the spine. Go slowly. Pressure should be as light as it feels for you to place your fingers over one of your closed eyes. Lighter is actually better.

3. The Wave
Move your hands like you are doing a Hawaiian dance, waving your fingers in large, scooping motions. Now do this at the back of the neck on your dog so the tissues become loose and malleable beneath your fingers.


This article is proudly presented by
Sylvia Wes
Meredith Allen
Dr. Katie Grzyb
John Plichter

While full body, deep tissue massage should be left to the professionals, here are some simpler, less intense dog massage therapy techniques that are safe to try at home. Massage one side of his body at a time, then have him lie down on his other side. Learn about basic canine anatomy and physiology before massaging your dog.

Your veterinarian can help you with this. If your dog has serious health problems, but could still benefit from massage, contact a professional dog massage therapist. Applying too much pressure to your dog's tummy could damage his internal organs. Avoid this area completely or use the lightest pressure possible. Not all dogs like to be massaged. Do not force a massage on your dog if he does not want one.

There are certain situations in which you should not massage your dog: fever, shock, undiagnosed injury or illnesses, open wounds, and skin infections. Ask for recommendations from your veterinarian or other dog owners.

Remember that massage is not a substitute for regular veterinary care. If your dog has a serious health problem, he should be examined and treated by your veterinarian. Regularly massaging your dog will help you learn what his body feels like normally, and be able to detect any abnormal lumps or bumps early on.

Massage your dog for about 10 minutes a day. Daily massage can help prevent joint stiffness that can lead to arthritis, as well as improve your dog's quality of life.

1. Backstroke
To introduce your dog to canine massages you should use a simple, gentle backstroke. You can do this sitting with your dog, watching TV... Starting at the back of the head, stroke up and down either side of your dog's spine using very gentle pressure. Be sure to stay off the bone. This type of back rub is calming and relaxing for dogs. It can be a good dog massage for anxiety, particularly for dogs who are fearful of human touch. For rescue dogs, touch can be healing. Massage helps them trust again it is wonderful to watch!

2. Forehead Rub
For another calming massage technique, try giving your best bud a head rub. Calming points are primarily located on your dog's head. Start at the top of your dog's nose, where there is an acupressure point associated with calming and healing, says Dr. Barrack. Using gentle pressure, run your thumb from the top of the nose and over the head, going back and forth slowly.

3. Thigh and Glute Rub
Many of senior dogs suffering from age-related mobility issues. Dogs are like us - they are living longer. There are certain inevitabilities with age, but we can make our dogs more comfortable. Dog massage for arthritis should be done by a professional under the medical guidance of a veterinarian. However, some gentle compression can be done at home to keep muscles loose and flexible.

This dog massage therapy technique is intended for your dog's back legs and glutes. Using gentle pressure, press both thumbs into the thigh or glute muscle, and make a backwards "c". Slowly work your way across the entire muscle, making these clockwise thumb circles. This thumb-circle technique can also be used to massage the base of the neck. Dogs absolutely love it because they can not reach their necks.

4. Ear Rub
Most dogs love even the most basic ear rub. But with a little know-how, you can offer your pet a calming, therapeutic ear massage. For this simple massage, start with your thumb on the inner side of your dog's ear, at the base of the ear flap, your index finger should be outside the ear. Using gentle pressure, slowly stroke out towards the end of the ear and conclude with a gentle pull.

5. Stress Relief
Gentle, slow, calming strokes are important in the massage of a stressed or anxious dog. Starting at the neck and working downward, long, soft strokes can be used. Placing a hand on the back of the neck while stroking may also help to calm your dog. Do not hug or squeeze, just stay calm, pet and rub gently, and focus on finding where your dog is tense. Once he is calmer, you can feel the muscles relax under your touch.

6. Arthritis & Pain Recovery
Start with a slow and gentle massage as noted in the above Stress Relief technique, and then begin to use pumping and compression motions. These motions will help to soften up the tense tissues and muscles, and help them to relax and uncoil. Do not use hard force, and go gently on any areas that may be very sore or painful. Finish the massage with gentle stroking and petting motions to help relax your dog.

7. Injury Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation techniques will vary depending on the injury, and many vets and therapy clinics will provide you with a handout of the techniques specific to your dog's injury and recovery. Be sure not to start a canine massage session for injury rehabilitation unless instructed by your veterinarian or canine physical therapist. Most techniques will involve gentle motion exercises.

You can start by first using a calming stroking technique over your dog's entire body to help relax him, and then gently begin to move the limb in a normal range of motion. If the limb is too stiff or painful, return to a more soothing and gentle massage to help the muscles relax and stimulate circulation.

8. Shoulder Strumming
This is a good introductory stroke. Wave your fingertips or full palm back and forth on the shoulder area, like you are strumming a banjo. Begin slowly and as you see your dog easing into the motion, increase your speed and pressure. This is a great stroke to teach children who are just learning to interact with a new family dog.

9. The Long Graceful Slide
Stroke with your fingertips from the base of the neck down the length of the back.

10. Waving Down the Neckline
Stroke from side to side like a windshield wiper or like you are waving. Work this motion down the neck, back, and sides of the body.

11. Chin Ups
Caress under and around the chin. Many dogs tip their heads back and bask in this motion - they really like it!

12. Eyes
Gently Rub dog's eyes with a flat palm, you never know when the day will come you might need to get eye boogies out!

13. Mouth & Teeth
Work your way down to their jowls and lift them up. Take a look and say - Nice teeth! Take your index finger and rub it along your dog's teeth along their gum line. This gets them ready for at-home teeth brushing and non-anesthetic teeth cleaning.

14. Legs & Paws
Rub your dog's front and back legs and give them a gentle squeeing massage. It is so important for you to be able to squeeze your dog's legs to be able to perform self-exams for potential injuries. If they are always squirmy and cry when you touch their legs, it will be hard to tell if they have been injured.

Get them used to having their legs and paws touched. Give their paw a gentle squeeze and maybe stick a finger in between their two pads. You will need access here to pick out pesky burrs and other feet-related things. Plan to wipe their paws after walks? This is a great starting point!

15. Nails
Take time to tap each nail. Over time you can flick the nails and eventually tap them with a pencil or pen. This simulates nail clipping - your groomer will thank you for it!

16. Tail & Hinds
Rub your dog's tail from the base to the end and rub their little ham-hocks. If your Puppy has a docked tail be sure to still rub and handle their hinds. Dogs will get their temperature taken back there, so the more we can get them used to it, the more we help that experience become less traumatic.

17. Reduce The Anxiety
If your dog becomes anxious during certain situations, like the sound of fireworks or thunder, you could try massaging him to calm his nerves. Starting with your palm lying flat against the top of his head or neck, make light and sweeping motions down to his tail. Continue these sweeping motions until you see your dog start to relax.

Finish the massage by lightly resting one hand at the base of his head and the other on his hips near his sacrum. These locations represent the parts of the spinal cord that control rest and relaxation responses. It may help to talk to your dog in a quiet and soothing voice while you are massaging him.

18. Relieve Joint Stiffness and Soreness
Dogs, just like people, can become sore after vigorous physical activity. Giving your dog a massage after exercise can help him recover a little more quickly. If you notice a particular joint that seems to be sore - like hip joint, shoulder joint, begin to pet in that general area to warm it up. In a rhythmic fashion, gently press down on the muscles around the joint, then release the pressure.

This compression improves circulation through the muscles and takes some tension off the tendons around the affected joint. Make sure not press down directly on the affected joint. If you do by accident, your dog will let you know that you have touched a painful area. Finish the massage by petting the affected area again.

19. Help your Dog Feel Better if he has Cancer
If your dog is suffering from cancer, you may be able to use massage to help him feel a little better. In human cancer patients, massage can help to reduce anxiety, relieve such symptoms as pain and nausea, and lower blood pressure. It is reasonable to think that dogs with cancer may benefit from massage as well. Talk with your veterinarian first before massaging your dog.

20. Knead Your Dog's Muscles
Like you, your dog can hold tension in her muscles. To knead, move your fingers and thumbs in small circular movements around the muscles. Try gently kneading some of those areas that tend to hold the most tension, such as around the withers - shoulder area, and the upper portion of the leg. This helps to relax and increase circulation to the muscle. Increased circulation helps to rid the muscle of toxins and lactic acid, the chemical that causes soreness after a workout. Use a light touch with small breeds, since their tiny bones are fragile.

21. Roll Your Dog's Skin
Grasp the loose sections of skin and gently roll them between your fingers. Roll the skin down the length of the body. Be careful not to pinch your dog's skin in the process. This technique helps to reduce skin adhesions and increases circulation to the skin and hair follicles. Increased blood flow contributes to a healthy coat.

22. Massage Your Dog's Feet
Like human feet, a dog's feet become cramped and tense after walking all day. By teaching your dog how nice a massage can be, you may start to find it easier to clean his feet and clip his nails. Start by bending the foot at the ankle area. Gently squeeze the ankle, then knead the foot down to the end of each toe. Pull each toe separately and gently bend it forward and backward.

23. Calming Dog Massage
Use the flat palm of your hand on top of your dog's head or neck and move your hands gently around the neck area where there is a good bulk of muscle. Simply make long, sweeping movements using light pressure and repeat the motion watching for a calm state returning to your dog. When you have finished place one hand at the base of the dogs head and the other hand over the pelvis - dog's hips. This will aid rest and relaxation responses of the body. This technique is useful any time your dog is nervous or fearful, such as during visits to the vet.

24. Sore Muscles Release
If you notice that your dog has a particularly sore muscle, you can use a specific type of dog massage technique to help the fluid move through the muscle and relieve the dog's muscle pressure. This is similar to massaging gas out of the dog. This type of dog sore muscle massage is only for this specific purpose and should be stopped once the condition improves. You will need to perform this massage every few hours for one or two days to aid in the healing of the muscle, and stop after that.

Calm the dog down

Petting - Now, move to gently petting the area of the sore muscle, without any massaging. This will help to warm it up and show your dog that you are not trying to cause him more pain in his sensitive area.

Apply some pressure - After your dog is comfortable with petting, do some massaging now. With an open hand, press down gently on the muscle and hold the gentle pressure for 15-30 seconds. If your dog seems irritated, stop immediately.

Rinse and repeat - Release the pressure and remove your hand for 15-30 seconds. Then do it again for another 15-30 seconds. Continue this press and release pattern for about 5-10 minutes.

Petting again - After you have massaged the dog's sore muscle for 5-10 minutes, you can end the massage with more gentle petting. This will show your dog that he did well to tolerate the treatment and you are not trying to hurt him.

25. Warm Up for Physical Activity
If you have an active dog, it is helpful to get him warmed up before intense exercise. Begin by petting him over his entire body for a few minutes. Next, with your palm still facing down, use the heel of your hand near your wrist, to briskly rub his large muscles - thighs, hips, neck, shoulders.

Do not apply excessive pressure with the heel of your hand. Your dog will likely let you know if you are using too much pressure. After briskly rubbing those muscles, lift them as if you were kneading dough - gently grab the muscles and rub them between your thumb and fingers. To warm up his leg muscles, gently squeeze the muscles at the bottom of each leg and work your way up. Finish the massage the way you started it, broad strokes across his entire body.

After several minutes of simple strokes over your dog's entire body begin to rub the large muscles around the neck, shoulders, buttocks, and thighs using the heel of your hand. The motion is similar to kneading bread and the aim is to stimulate blood flow in the muscles.

Next assert a little pressure to your dogs lower limbs by wrapping your fingers around the and squeezing gently. Relax your grip and move up leg gradually, repeating the squeezing motion. Finish with extra petting to stimulate your dog in preparation for exercise.

26. SPA Dog Massage
Make Sure They Are Relaxed. First, before you even start the massage, make sure your dog is calm. Take them for a long walk first or let them get their energy out playing. If they need exercise, they won't be able to sit still for the massage.

Pet Your Dog All Over! After they are relaxed, begin to pet them like you normally would. Pet them all over. Get them behind the ears, under their chin, on their back. Just give them an all-over petting. This will prepare them for the massage. At this point, most dogs will begin to relax even more. It will help if you talk calmly to your dog while you do this.

Start At the Neck. Now you are ready to begin the dog massage. You will start on their neck. Rub your dog's neck in large, circular motions. Do not press too hard, but also do not do it too lightly. You want the massage to loosen up their tight muscles, but not hurt them. Move Down to the Shoulders.

Do not stop massaging. Next, you will move on down to the shoulders. This is an area that your dog can not reach, so spend a little extra time on it. Go slow and rub it gently. Keep the motions in large circular patterns. Massage Chest and Front Legs. Then, massage the front of your dog, rubbing their chest and front legs. Pay close attention to your dog's reactions. If they do not like their legs being rubbed, move to a different part of their body.

Some dogs like having their paws massaged, and others do not. You can attempt and see how they react. Just be very careful with the pads of their feet. Dogs have an automatic "kick" reflex to anything that goes in between their toes. Massage the Back, following their chest, move your massage to their back.

Rub up and down, along the length of their spine. Again, be careful that you are not pressing too hard. Finish with Back Legs and Tail Area Finally, finish up the dog massage by rubbing your dog's back legs and tail area. You can massage the bottom of their spine near the tail and the hind legs. This will probably be the quickest area for you to complete. When you are done, praise your dog.




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Kate Walker
Karen Spinelli

Regardless of whether you have got a senior dog or just brought home a new puppy, implementing a massage routine can be hugely beneficial. Regular massage helps the digestive system, promotes increased joint flexibility, stimulates the kidney and liver, and helps encourage healthy skin and coats.

For dogs who have been injured or are recovering from surgery, massage can help with minimizing the amount of scar tissue, relieve pain, decrease swelling, and provide a sense of needed comfort. As with any form of treatment, always check with your veterinarian prior to beginning to ensure that it is something that will benefit your dog. If appropriate, the following simple steps can be implemented at home.

THIS IMAGE (c) by Ludmila Perry - HOW TO MASSAGE A DOG
Treating the Anxious Dog
Stressed or anxious dogs tend to draw tremendous benefits from pet massage. Carefully applied pressure and soothing, consistent touch provide a sense of comfort to animals who are otherwise unable to relax or settle themselves. When massaging an anxious dog, first ensure that the setting is one that promotes relaxation and calm. Turn off the television, avoid loud sounds - this is not the time to run the vacuum and go to a place in the house that brings your dog comfort.

Start by gently laying your hand on top of the dog's head and softly brush it along the spine, all the way to the tail. Continue this stroke, gradually building up pressure, as long as the dog seems comfortable. Due to the gentle nature of this massage technique, it is safe to do for a longer session. Keep going for as long as your dog seems comfortable, especially if you notice a reduction in anxiety. To finish, place one hand on the dog's head and the other on his pelvis to trigger an additional degree of relaxation.

Treating a Puppy
Even puppies with seemingly infinite stores of energy will likely slow down if there is a massage involved. Not only does it calm them, it provides the opportunity for a fantastic bonding experience between human and dog which helps foster a sense of trust and respect. When massaging a puppy, aim to time the treatment for when he is at his calmest. It can be hard to pin down a little one during peak witching hour so try to plan accordingly.

Begin the massage by gently stroking the puppy from the top of his head to his tail. Extend the strokes down his arms and legs, all the way to his paws. Gradually increase pressure, ensuring that he remains comfortable. Next, using your fingertips, gently apply pressure to the puppy's muscles, gently kneading them to release tension. Avoid pushing on the bones, instead direct your focus to areas like his shoulders, back, and hips. Continue to alternate between the two techniques for as long as you and the puppy are willing to sit still.

Treating Stiff and Sore Spots
If you notice that your otherwise healthy and active dog is limping, the first step is to check with your vet to ensure that he is not seriously injured. If the limping is not the result of an injury, you may want to look to massage as a possible solution. Incorporating regular massage into your routine can provide relief from occasional soreness and help your dog loosen up without relying on medication or other more invasive forms of treatment.

The first step is identifying the sore spot. Again, only proceed if you are certain that your dog has not sustained a serious injury. Once you have isolated the source, gently rub your hands around the area to warm up the muscles. Next, gently apply even pressure over the affected part of the body, pressing and releasing all while being mindful of not overdoing it. Try to establish a consistent pattern which will take the pressure off the tendons and provide relief. Finish up by gently stroking the sore area and then the entire body.

Treating the Senior Dog
As they age, dogs, like humans, tend to slow down. Increasing stiffness, the occasional sore spot, and age-related conditions such as arthritis or flare-ups from previous injuries all tend to come up on occasion, causing your dog to notice an increase in discomfort.

Aim to incorporate this routine into your daily schedule and be prepared to notice a marked difference in your senior dog's general well being. Ensuring that your dog is comfortable, begin the massage by gently applying pressure with your fingertips at the top of his head. Rub the side of the skull, the area by the jaw, and continue to work your way down the neck and to the shoulders.

You may notice that some areas seem tighter than others - feel free to linger on these spots as long as your dog does not show signs of pain. As you move your way down the body, use your thumbs to apply pressure along either side of your dog's spine.

Gently trace the length of the spine, continuing to apply pressure in a consistent pattern. Next, turn your attention to your dog's chest and stomach. Using gentle strokes, rub your dog's underside in a circular motion, helping to increase blood flow and encourage healthy digestion. Finish by gently kneading the arms, legs, and paws.

Consider your Speed
Speeds are one of the most valuable components of the massage technique and most people tend to touch too fast. Instead, offer a slow caress. To get an idea of how slow you should go, stroke your dog from the base of the neck to the tail and see how long it takes. Probably just a few seconds. For a massage, you will want to double that time.

Consider your Pressure
At times a light touch may be more appropriate than a heavy one. In general, you should always start your dog out with mild pressure and go deeper as the massage progresses. The deeper the pressure, the slower you should go.

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition!
When you find a technique your animal likes, repeat it, over and over and over. While we may get bored with repetition, repeated actions signify comfort and safety for our animals.


1. Begin with Petting!
Start with "purposeful petting." Think of this as getting the lay of the land and checking that the dog is comfortable with your touch.

2. Take things slowly
Make sure the dog is happy being stroked, before applying more pressure with massage.

3. Never punish a dog for resisting massage.
Instead, let them walk away and try again another time. If your dog is aggressive or liable to bite, then always warn the massage therapist and muzzle the dog.

4. Praise the dog!
And talk in a sing-song voice during the massage, as a way to reassure them and reward their relaxed behavior.

5. Pain
If the dog growls or pulls away, this could be a sign they are in pain. Stop and reassess your technique.

6. Proceed to Gliding
Once you know the animal is comfortable being touched, start with slow gentle glides from the top of the neck, around the ears, all the way down the top line to their tail. Then, move along the length of each leg. This helps them get acclimated to your touch and gives you an idea of how the different parts of their body are feeling.

7. Look for Feedback from your dog
Be extra attentive to their reactions. This will let you know if there are areas they either quite like being touched, or spots they are more wary of. Bear in mind that not all dogs enjoy massage, so you need to pay close attention to your dog's reactions as you proceed. Keep an eye out for these particular behaviors, all of which are telling you to stop now:

Growling or Snarling
Flinching or Yelping
Slightest Nip
Flattened Ears
Twitching Eyebrows
Holding of Breath
Sidelong Looks
Rolling Eyes.

8. Build Trust by focusing on areas they are comfortable with.
Areas they are already comfortable being touched are a nice place to start for the emotional trust-building aspects of massage. You can later move into the areas they were less fond of, since those are likely the spots where they hold tension, and therefore the places most in need of the therapeutic aspects of your manual techniques.

9. Be Cautious working on areas that are sensitive
Avoid working on sensitive or painful body areas unless the animal is completely comfortable with you and your touch. Even then, less is more.

10. Use Positive Reinforcement
If this is an dog who is new to you or new to this level of physical interaction, give them positive reinforcement - like praise or a food treat for allowing you to just sit next to them. Then for allowing your hand to rest on a neutral part of their body for just a moment, like the middle of their back. Then for allowing you to do one stroke all the way down their back, and so on, until they seem more comfortable with the idea of this level of touch.

11. Keep the Focus
on your dog!

Always keep complete attention on the dog and how they react to every aspect of your touch. If you sense any negative reactions - looking quickly at the area you just touched, pulling away, making sounds of discomfort, immediately stop what you are doing and move back to the last thing you were doing when they were still comfortable.

Keep in mind that you may need to be patient while your dog becomes more comfortable. It is fine if the process takes multiple sessions to get to the point where you are actually massaging them. The idea is to keep the entire experience a positive one, no matter how long it takes to get there.

12. Be gentle
Throughout the massage, you do not want to apply much pressure at all. This will help prevent any damage to your dog's internal organs.

13. Long Gliding Strokes
Long gliding strokes along the length of a muscle are great for beginning and end your massage time. These are part of effleurage - a form of massage and are relaxing to animals.

14. Shorter Strokes
Shorter strokes that go across the width, or grain, of the muscle - like gentle friction or easy downward pressure are good for loosening muscle tightness. These are part of petrissage - a massage technique and help stimulate the muscles.

15. Legs
For legs, move from the paws in an upward direction toward the center of their body. This will help circulate blood and move lymph fluid toward their core where their organs can process it more efficiently. It also helps clear toxins and reduces inflammation.

16. Calm
Wait until your dog is calm and submissive. It is difficult to massage an agitated dog - it may help to start with a long walk.

17. Neck & Shoulders
Pay special attention to the neck and shoulders because your dog cannot easily reach these areas.

18. Areas
If your dog resists or reacts negatively to any area, skip it and go to the next area.

19. Remove the Collar
Remove collars or harnesses so the massage will not be interrupted.

20. Muscle Ball
If you feel a tight ball of muscle during the massage, use gentle compression to help release it. Apply even pressure to the top of the knot using your thumb, hold for twenty seconds, then release.

21. Vet Check
If in doubt, check in with a vet. For conditions such as skin infections or bone cancer, massage is contra-indicated as there is a risk of it worsening the condition If your dog is sick or recovering from surgery or an injury, always have a vet physiotherapist show you the correct way to massage the dog. Again, there is a risk of bad technique making matters worse rather than better.


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Establish a Massage Routine
To set up a routine, come up with a word or phrase like "rubdown," "It is massage time!", to let your dog know it is massage time. Pick a time of day for the massage. It is best to wait until your dog has gone to the bathroom, and at least 15 minutes after he has eaten.

Prepare the Massage Area
The massage area should be quiet and distraction free. Play some soothing music, such as nature sounds or soft classical music. Set up an area for your dog. The surface on which he will lay should be flat - no pillows or cushions, firm, and soft. A layer or two of comfortable blankets on the floor would work well. Prepare the massage area so you can sit comfortably to massage your dog.

Stroke your Dog from Head to Tail
Have your dog lie down comfortably on his side. With your palm facing down, use broad, light strokes to touch your dog from the back of his head to the tip of his tail. This will probably feel like normal petting to him, and will help get him ready for the massage. There is no set amount of time for you to do this. Move forward with the massage when your dog looks calm and settled.

Massage along your
Dog's Spine

Starting at your dog's shoulders and working back to the base of his tail, massage the muscles alongside his spine - do not place direct pressure on his spine. First, use your fingers to make small circles - clockwise, then counterclockwise, down his back.

Next, use your thumbs to apply gentle, vertical pressure down his back. As you massage along the spine, gently lift up small sections of your dog's skin and slowly knead it between your fingers. Throughout the massage, pay attention to your dog's body language. If he is not enjoying the massage and wants you to stop, he will use such body language as tensing, holding his breath, growling, and flinching.

Rub your Dog's Sacrum
The sacrum is at the very end of your dog's spine between the hips. With your palms facing down, use light pressure and make slow circular movements with your fingers. Massaging this area improves the mobility of the hips and spine.

Rub your Dog's
Legs and Paws

Use the thumb and fingers of one hand to rub his leg muscles, starting from the top of each leg. When you get down to the paw, gently squeeze the muscles between his toes and individually move his toes up and down in a wiggling motion. Flex and rotate each paw to release any tendon pressure. You can also give each paw a gentle squeeze. Not all dogs like their paws being handled. Read your dog's body language when you start massaging his paws.

Give your Dog a Tummy Rub
As much as your dog probably loves a tummy rub, it is important to remember that his tummy is a sensitive area. As with the other areas of your dog's body, use light, circular movements to rub his tummy.

Massage the Areas of your Dog's Head
With your hands on either side of his head, use a slow, backward and forward motion to massage his cheeks. If you have a small dog, it may be easier to use your fingers rather than your whole hand on his cheeks. To massage his ears, start at the base of the ear and rub the earflaps between your fingers until you reach the ear's tip. You can also scratch behind his ears. Your dog will probably love how that feels! Rub under his chin, over his nose, and between his eyes.

Squeeze your Dog's Tail
Your dog's tail deserves attention, too! Starting at the base of his tail, make several, gentle squeezing motions from the base to the tip. Be careful not to pull the tail as you squeeze - that could be uncomfortable for your dog.

Complete the Massage
After giving individual focus to each body part, complete the massage the same way you started it - broad, gentle strokes from the base of your dog's head to his tail. Stroke down his legs as well.




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Samantha Randall

This is a type of very simple and easy pet massage which, when doing it for about 10 minutes every day, you can improve the dog's health. It is easy to do, and it is also a good way to warm up an active dog each morning before walks or exercise.

Do NOT massage your dog as you would massage another person! Unlike massaging people, dogs do not need a deep tissue massage, and it will likely hurt the dog more than it will help your pet.

Instead, gentle massage of your dog's body is all your pooch requires. You do NOT need to push deep down into muscles. The dog must be in a calm state for this to work. If your dog is nervous, he is not going to enjoy the massage, and he may even get irritable if you stumble upon an injury or sore muscle.

Calm the Dog Down - So the first thing is you will need to calm your dog down using some proven techniques. Talk in a calm voice, and begin by running your hands over the dog's entire body very gently and slowly. This light petting will help to calm your dog and prepare him for his massage.

Proper Movements - Begin your dog's massage at the neck and work your way down his body, slowly making progress. Make small circular motions, and remember to keep the pressure light (no deep muscle tissue massaging). Massage your pet all around the neck and then slowly move down to his chest and shoulders.

Massage the Full Body - Once you are dog with neck and shoulders, continue down both front legs, and do not forget the paws. If your pooch does not like having his paws touched, which is quite common, then you can skip the paws altogether and continue moving down toward the dog's back and abdomen.

Sensitive areas - Work your way down to your dog's hips and back legs. Take special care here, as this is a very sensitive area for dogs with arthritis, hip dysplasia and other health conditions. Use gentle pressure and make small circles. If your dog shows any sign of pain, stop immediately.

Once you have reached the end - hips and back legs, and spent a few minutes gently massaging that area, you are done. Again, the whole process should take about 10 minutes and no longer. Regular "massage movements" are more than enough, where you should focus on gently relaxing your dog's muscles.

Step-by-Step Guide: Daily "Maintenance" Massage


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Massage is a wonderful tool that will calm an anxious dog. When trying to massage a dog with anxiety, it is important to teach your dog that massage is harmless, and touch is actually relaxing. Breathe deep in through the nose, and slowly exhale out through the mouth.

Goal of Massaging a Dog With Anxiety
Massage goals are different when massaging a dog with anxiety. Your main goal is to relax your anxious dog instead of releasing muscle tension or giving your dog an entire body massage. Relaxing massages teach a dog with anxiety that hands make good things happen. Remember to always use slow strokes to promote relaxation and to take deep breaths. It may seem odd, but dogs do respond when pet owners take deep breaths, and they will likely take one shortly after you do.

Introduce Touch First
Most dogs with anxiety flinch or step away when someone reaches out to touch them. Anxious dogs are scared, and usually move away from fast movement, which includes hands reaching out to pet them. These dogs have learned that people will try to reach out and touch them even if they do not want to be touched. Think about it this way: If you are scared of spiders and one tries to reach out and touch you, that is scary!

It is important to teach your anxious dog that hands make good things happen. Instead of reaching out to your dog, play a game of "touch." The "touch" game teaches a dog to walk over and touch your hand. Choices are super rewarding for dogs, and "touch" gives dogs choices. If they want a treat, they can walk over and touch a person's hand. If not, that is OK too. Giving dogs with anxiety choices is paramount.

Now, slowly reach toward your dog, but do not touch her yet. As you extend your hand out 1-2 feet from your body, say "yes" and toss him a treat. Continue to practice, slowly increasing the distance between your hand and his body. Once your dog will stand still and actually walk toward your extended hand, it is time to touch him. Start with your fingertips first, and reward him as you are touching him. Say "yes" and give him super yummy treats. Continue practicing until he is comfortable with hands touching and petting him.

Start Where The Dog is Most Comfortable
When sitting down in a chair or on the floor, your dog will likely walk over and present her head or butt for petting. This is the area he is most comfortable for a massage. Place both hands on the area and slowly move one hand a couple of inches up and slowly slide along his body. Your other hand should remain in the same spot. If your dog presents his face for petting, then start with slow hand slides along the side of his neck - move over ear, neck, shoulder. For your dog's behind, place your massage, moving, hand on your dog's side - where the ribs end, and on the side of the spine. Move your massage hand toward you - move over midsection, hind legs, rump.

Be Conscious of Your Hand Movement
Keep strokes short, slow and gentle. Apply just enough pressure to move your dog's skin, but not muscle. When your dog is comfortable, take longer strokes. When stroking, place your entire hand on your dog with your palm touching him. Keep your fingers together, and stroke with your entire hand. Be conscious of your hand movement and refrain from pushing inward - you will see your dog's body move the opposite way. Take a deep breath in as you stroke him side, and exhale as you lift your massage hand up to continue another stroke. Breathing will create a constant rhythm, which is important for relaxation.

Let Your Dog End the Massage
Allow your dog to decide when the massage is over. In the beginning, your anxious dog will walk away after a few seconds or minutes. Slowly, he will learn to enjoy massages and will stick around longer though. Now, if your dog becomes a massage junkie, end the massage once your dog has relaxed. Then, pat yourself on the back for teaching your dog with anxiety that massages are wonderful.


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Many dogs have trouble sleeping. Older dogs may have trouble getting comfortable because of tired sore muscles or even arthritis, while active younger dogs may be restless from exciting days spent running, playing, or working outside. When your dog does not sleep well, it might affect your sleep also. There are massage techniques you can use to send your dog off to sleep offering relaxation and comfort for sore and tired muscles.

When you spend time every night massaging your dog, you will see his sleep improve along with his overall life and mobility in the days to follow the massage.

Your dog might be overly tired from not sleeping well, or he may be anxious and tense and in need of a good night's sleep. A relaxing massage can help either one of these cases but because of his anxieties or inability to relax it may take some time to get him used to a massage to help him sleep. A massage is the best way to fall asleep. Helping your dog cope through a long day with sore muscles can create a soothing atmosphere sending the sandman his way. Set your pup up for a good night's sleep with a gentle evening massage.


1. Bed
Get your dog to lie down in his bed ready to sleep. Try to keep the room quiet and not too bright. You are preparing him for sleep, so set the stage to fall asleep.

2. On Side
If your dog lies on his side to prepare for sleep, get him comfortable and start by slowly rubbing his tummy in one direction. This will calm him and get his mind and body ready to sleep.

3. Head
Once he has settled with the help of a tummy rub, massage the exposed side of his head. Use very small strokes in short circular motions to massage his ears and jowls.

4. Neck
Carefully massage your little guy's neck in the same small circular motions. You may only get to the one side as he is lying on his side, but remember the goal is to get him to go to sleep, so as long as he is getting a soothing massage, all is good.

5. Legs & Paws
By this time, your dog should be feeling quite relaxed. Ease any more tension he has by gently pulling the skin and muscles on his legs down toward his paws. Take his front paw in your hands and gently massage the paw pads and between his toes.

6. Back to Belly
If your dog needs more attention, go back to a soft and slow rub on his belly. You can talk to him in a quiet voice, or if he is still restless, start from the top again and work your way back down.


1. Lie Down
Get your dog settled on his bed and ready for sleep. If you'd like to set the ambiance for him, turn down the lights to a dim and play soft music.

2. Ears
Starting with his ears, massage with small circles behind his ears working your way to the tips. Make these motions slow and methodic.

3. Neck
Once you have finished the ears, work your hands down to your pup's neck. Use long strokes to knead the neck muscles from near the base of the head down his back and chest.

4. Back
With slow and methodic movements, massage the back. Move from long strokes on the neck to slow circles along either side of the spine and down the dog's sides.

5. Legs
Your dog's legs are used a lot and can be tired at the end of the day. After you have worked muscles on the back and sides, work on easing tension in his legs. Working from the top of each leg to the paw, use long strokes again making small circles with your thumbs.

HOW TO MASSAGE YOUR DOG TO SLEEP - This Image (c) Creative Commons
You could help your dog relax more by setting the stage with a relaxing ambiance. Music, lights, even relaxing scents can help your dog fall asleep while you offer him a relaxing massage. If your dog is mobile, getting him exercise before bedtime might help him relax more.

A dog who is tired will be more eager to lie down and relax while you massage his tired muscles. Be cautious of any sore or tender spots your dog may have. These swollen muscles might need a bit of extra work during your daily massages. With time, tired muscles can soften and relax causing less discomfort during the evening massage.

Try to give your dog an evening massage in his own bed so he does not have to get up to go to sleep. Also be sure to do this after his evening trip outside to go potty. If your dog is experiencing uncomfortable dry and itchy skin you can offer him a massage with coconut oil which will help him to relax as well as soothe his skin so he can sleep better all night. If you use essential oils, you can apply a drop or two of your favorite relaxing scent such as lavender or vanilla to help him sleep.

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Josie F. Turner

Why do dogs love it when you massage their ears? Devoting time to affectionately feel and scratch each other's ears is not quite common in relationships between humans. However, it is a common gesture in human relationships with dogs. Why is that? Dogs love the area around their ears because they have a total of 13 muscles in their ears. This makes them more sensitive, and they experience a special and pleasant feeling when petted there.

You should try stroking your dog at this specific point of their body. Besides being an enjoyable experience, it will make them feel very relaxed and loved. It is also a non-verbal treat for good behavior. It won't be difficult to tell whether your dog is enjoying the massage - just listen and watch their reactions. If your dog does not seem to like the massage and growls, you should ask yourself whether it is suffering from some kind of discomfort in its ears. An unpleasant smell indicates that a disease is present.

Benefits of Dog Ear Massage
Dogs have approximately 18th muscles in their ears, relaxing these hard working muscles will help to relax the scalp and even neck muscles. Base of the ears contains a large number of nerve endings and gentle massage of the area engages the parasympathetic nervous system and invites a relaxation response. Ear massage relaxes the limbic system and balances emotional states. Massaging the area releases endorphins: the feel good hormone. The ear is rich in reflexology points and from a TCM perspective the ear is the meeting place of all the channels of the body and contains over 200 acupuncture points!


1. To start gently invite touch and ask for permission by stroking your dog around the shoulder, do not go straight for the ears!

2. Once your dog or cat is happy to be touched, you can move your hand gently and slowly towards the ear.

3. Gently hold the ear at the base and start making slow circular movement, you will notice that your dog might actually have a preference for clockwise or counter clockwise, try to do both. Make sure you are not resting your hand on their head, you do not want to cause any neck compression.

4. Use little pressure, feel the skin move under your fingers, focus on making slow and perfectly round circles, breath!

5. Now you can grasp the ear flap between your fingers and gently run your fingers from the base to the tip of the ear, continue slowly and methodically until your cover the whole ear lobe.

6. Once finished you can gently rub the ear and finish the session by stroking your dog along the back.

7. Make sure not to grasp or hold onto the ear! You will notice that your dog or cat might shake their head quite a bit at the beginning.

Dog Ear Massage Method II
Step by Step Guide

Stroking your dog in a pleasant and appropriate way not only helps you establish a connection with your dog - it also relaxes them. It is a great way of getting your dog used to being handled, for example, when you need to clean their ears. Follow this step by step guide to massage your dog's ears:

1. Take advantage of when your dog is comfortable and relaxed and go and join it. Waking your dog up slowly, saying nice words and giving it kisses are a great way to start a perfect massage session.

2. Do not hold on to your dog, as it will feel too trapped and may try to escape in any direction. This should be a positive and enjoyable experience for both of you.

3. Start to gently massage the base of the ear. When they are calm, dogs are perfectly cable of noticing even the most delicate of fingers. Be gentle and caress the area where the ears are attached to the head with slight pressure.

4. Gently scratch the base of the back of the ears and watch your dog lower its head so that you can reach more surface area.

5. Loosen the ears and gently move them in different directions.

6. Stroke your dog's ears up and down.

7. Continue massaging the neck and head if you like. Kisses, caresses and words of affection can also be included!

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Your dog's head may not be the first place you think of massaging him, but think of all the important sensory organs, blood flow, muscles, and nerves that are located in your dog's head and neck area. A massage to this area is relaxing for your dog and can provide benefits all over his body. Massaging improves blood circulation, which is important where delicate sense organs are located in the ears, eyes, and nose.

Do not forget the mouth and gums that can benefit from improved circulation, and the jaw muscles, which can become tight with stress or chewing activity. A massage of your dogs head and face will be much appreciated with many benefits.


While your dog may love to have his head stroked and petted, massaging his head utilizes focused techniques to relax the head, neck, and facial muscles, organs, and tissues, to benefit your dog's health. While we traditionally think of massage as being about the back, body, and limbs, remember that the head contains muscles as well as your dog's brain, eyes, ears, glands, teeth, gums, sinuses, and multiple nerves and blood vessels that can all benefit from increased blood flow provided by massage.

The muscles in the head, neck, and face, are just as susceptible to tension, knots, and spasms as muscles elsewhere in the body. Stimulating pressure points on the head, neck, and ears can also provide benefits elsewhere in the body, as nerves from the cranial area connect throughout your dog's body. Massaging your dogs head can help relieve stress, anxiety, and fatigue and provide overall health benefits.

Most dogs love to be massaged; they love the attention and, let's face it, being massaged usually feels pretty good. You will, however, need to be gentle and introduce your dog gradually to being touched in sensitive areas. When people get a massage, we understand why pressure is being applied to a sensitive spot, but your dog does not understand what is happening and it is pretty hard to explain it to him. You will want to avoid causing your dog discomfort and introduce pressure and touching in areas that are unfamiliar to him in a slow, confident, manner so he feels comfortable with the process, especially in the sensitive head region.



1. Massage top of head
Massage the top of your dog's head with your fingertips to stimulate the skin and nerves and increase blood circulation in the top of the head.

2. Stimulate facial area
Tap lightly on your dog's face to stimulate the brain and increase blood circulation.

3. Stimulate ears
Lightly pull ear flaps and massage them to increase circulation. Rotate flaps and manipulate them to open the ear canal and improve air circulation. Cup the base of the ear with your hand and move hands in a circular motion in both directions. Finish by gently gliding fingers down the ear flaps.

4. Apply pressure above sinuses
Apply light pressure with thumbs to the bridge of the nose and above the eyes to open up sinus cavities.

5. Massage mouth area
Gently rub gums to improve circulation and improve oral health. Massage and run fingers along muzzle the back of the jaw and under your dog's chin and down his neck where there are major blood vessels and jaw muscles.


1. Relax head
Gently massage behind the ears with two fingers then cup your dog's head and encourage him to stretch it forward to relax his head.

2. Apply pressure behind ears
Palpate behind the ears pressing upwards with your thumb. If you find a knot gently apply direct pressure. Vary between applying gentle and firmer pressure.

3. Massage back of neck
Gently cup your dogs head and knead tissue on the neck with your fingers, starting with gentle pressure and increasing to medium and heavier pressure. When you find a knot or spasm apply direct pressure.

4. Use palm of hand
Using the palm of your hand, apply light pressure, rotating your palm and moving all over the top of head, and back of the neck area. Vary pressure with your palm, if you find spasms apply direct pressure.

5. Gently stroke
End by gently stroking your dog's neck and head to relax your dog and increase circulation.

Wash hands before massaging your dog's face, as smells can irritate or distract your dog. Also, you do not want to contaminate eyes or ears. Make sure your dog is relaxed before massaging, take him for a walk or play with him to burn off excess energy. Distract your dog with a chew toy if necessary while working on your dog's head and neck, to gain cooperation. Do not apply too firm pressure on sensitive spots, to avoid injuring tissues, putting pressure on nerves, or causing discomfort to your dog.


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To give you a better understanding of dog neck massage and how it can help your dog, let's first review dog muscles and movement. There are different types of muscles in the canine body and each has important functions. The muscles responsible for movement, joint stability and posture are the skeletal muscles.

Correct body posture is essential for all of the different jobs a dog's body does such as standing still, lying down, trotting or running. Posture is maintained by the skeletal muscles making continual tiny adjustments. The contraction of skeletal muscles is responsible for movement. Muscles pull on bones like levers to move the joints. These muscles work with ligaments to stabilize joints and hold them in proper alignment. Muscles also generate heat like a machine generating heat to perform its job. The heat released by working a muscle is essential for maintaining optimum canine body temperature.

Dog Neck Massage Relieves Stress and Maintains Flexibility! The head and neck play a vital role in a dog's movement and good flexibility is important for performance. Dog neck massage can really help an active dog relieve stress and maintain flexibility in skeletal muscles. A dog uses his head and neck constantly to balance the rest of his body.

For example, the downward swing of his head during running helps lift his rear legs off the ground as he is moving forward. The neck muscles are attached along the spine from the base of the skull down the cervical vertebrae to the thoracic vertebrae to the upper ribs and the scapulas. These 12 unique muscles interact to induce different movements:

Extension of the neck or bringing the head up

Flexion of the neck or bringing the head down between the legs

Lateral flexion or turning the head to each side

These muscles are very active and so a lot of strain can be put on them during different activities. Consider how dogs twist, turn, and stretch their necks at play, while catching a Frisbee, playing tug of war, or chasing a ball or a squirrel.

Athletic and working dogs can experience extreme stress on neck muscles. Here are some examples of the activities after which a dog neck massage can help the relieve stress and burden put on neck muscles:

Navigating the different agility obstacles

Hitting the spring-loaded pad and turning sharply in fly ball

Turning and twisting on a field to collect a flock of sheep

Pulling in a harness for carting or weight pull

Any one or multiple of these muscles can become stressed and strained from overuse or injury. When these muscles are tight, a dog can show discomfort by holding his head to one side, keeping his head lowered or resisting sideways motion to one side. Also, when resting a dog will have a tendency to keep his head flexed to the side of the tight muscle. There may be tightness and or warmth in the area of stress. The dog may also pull away from touch.

There are different ways to help with the recovery of the strain and stress of neck muscles. Massage therapy is an extremely effective method alone or as a complement to a chiropractic or acupuncture treatment. Massage is warming and relaxing, increases circulation, reduces swelling and soothes tired and achy muscles. Massage can also reduce muscle spasm and interrupt the pain spasm pain cycle. Massage reduces muscle soreness and stiffness and softens superficial fascia and adhesions.

The neck muscles are critical for your dog's proper and balanced posture and movement, whether for everyday activities or for performance competition. Dog neck massage can help insure your dog is ready to perform any task. Dog massage, in general, is a very effective method for keeping your dog balanced and feeling great.

Although most dogs like to be massaged, if your dog's neck is causing him discomfort he may not appreciate you pressing and pulling sore tissue on his neck. You will need to be gentle, and introduce massage techniques slowly. Incorporate lots of petting and maybe some treats! Hold your dog's head by cupping his muzzle and stretching the neck out by wrapping your arm under his head to holding him securely while working on his neck.

Dogs' get neck strain and injury just like we do. An active dog can injure themselves playing, working, or running. Dogs may get sore muscles as they age or dogs can injure their necks from collars. A dog that constantly pulls on his collar while on walks or while tied is especially subject to a neck injury. If you suspect a neck injury, seek veterinary advice to rule out serious conditions before treating with massage at home. Once cleared for massage, hold your dog securely and start palpating your dog's neck to find strained and sore muscles and tissues.


1. Secure Your Dog
If you have a small dog, you can put him on your lap, or a larger dog can sit on the floor while you get down to their level. If you have a sturdy table such as a massage table or picnic table you can place your dog on an elevated surface.

2. Remove Collar
Remove your dog's collar so you can access neck muscles and tissues without interference.

3. Look for Sore Spots
Gently investigate your dog's neck area, looking for sore spots. Healthy tissue has give and is supple, injured or spasmatic tissues are more resistant, tight, and sensitive.

4. Puch, Pull, Release
When you find an area that is strained, press your fingers gently in the area, pull fingers towards your palm and then release.

5. Move Over Neck
Move all over your dog's neck, from behind the ears, down to the shoulder and around the front of the neck. Do not massage on the very front of your dogs neck over the windpipe.


1. Stretch Out
Cup your hand under your dog's chin and stretch and hold his head out for 8 seconds.

2. Secure Head
Wrap your arm under your dog's neck or hold him under the neck with your hand to hold your dog still.

3. Apply Pressure with Fingers
Apply light pressure with your thumb and forefinger behind your dog's ears for 10 seconds, moderately for 15 seconds, and apply heavier pressure for 20 seconds, then release.

4. Cup Tissues
Gently cup the skin on the back of your dog's neck by moving your fingers into your palm and squeezing gently. If your dog tolerates gentle cupping, apply more moderate than heavier pressure, then release.

5. Move Over Neck
Move all over the back of your dog's neck, down to the shoulders and front of neck. Avoid the windpipe, cupping and applying pressure then releasing.

If your dog shows signs of having an injury in the neck, get veterinary advice as neck injuries can be serious. Avoid the very front of the neck, where the windpipe and esophagus are located. Do not apply pressure on these sensitive structures. Remove your dog's collar if possible before massaging neck, or if you require the collar to control your dog, loosen it so you can work under the collar.

Do not lift a large dog onto an elevated surface without assistance, or if you cannot safely control the lift. Work on the floor instead. Do not force massage or apply pressure where your dog tries to avoid it. Let your dog guide you as to how much pressure is comfortable.


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Diane Thompson

Most dogs are used to our touching them with randomly placed pats on the head or back. You need to touch very slowly and gently and be sensitive to her sore areas. Each of the following methods can be performed with the dog sitting, standing, or lying, as she prefers.

Flat Hand Massage
This flat-hand massage stroke is a relaxing method which I use to get the dog mentally settled down and comfortable with a style of touch which is different from petting. These long, gentle strokes also warm and gently stretch the skin and muscles, readying them for the more specific massage methods which follow.

This method slows you down and sensitizes your hand so you can become aware of any odd areas in your dog's body that may signal deeper problems. Feel and watch for areas that are warmer or colder than normal body temperature, areas that twitch or sag as you apply pressure, and patches of dry hair or skin.

This method is simple. Put one hand on the dog's chest, both to comfort and to stabilize her. Shape the broad surface of the palm and fingers of your other hand into a flat, mitten-like form. Place this hand over your dog's backbone just behind her shoulder blades. Leave your thumb separate from your fingers on one side of the spine. Press down into dog's body with uniform pressure throughout your hand and fingers.

Use gentle pressure at first - once your dog learns to relax with the method you can increase the weight of your hand. Now, slowly slide your hand all the way down your dog's back to the tail. Use the downward pressure to smooth the hair, skin and underlying muscles in a steady continuous motion. Always stroke from head to tail, moving in the same direction the hair grows.

Repeat the flat hand stroke directly down the spine and nearby muscles at least three to five times. Note areas which have temperature and texture differences. If your dog flinches and does not like this method no matter how lightly you apply it, contact your veterinarian for investigation of deeper muscular or skeletal problems. Once you have finished these strokes, move on to the other methods mentioned below or apply similar, flat strokes to other areas of the body.

Depending on the size of your dog, you could apply flat hand or flat finger strokes to the neck and shoulder and down the foreleg, lower back, hip and hind leg. Be sure to stabilize your dog with one hand while you stroke in the direction of the hair growth with the other. Pay attention to your dog's reactions. Adjust the pressure of your hand to bring comfort and relaxation.

Cross-Fiber Massage
Another helpful massage technique uses a back and forth rolling motion of the fingertips to increase circulation and unlock contracted muscle fibers. It is useful in detecting muscle and joint soreness along the spine. In human massage circles, this method belongs in a group of "cross-fiber" techniques because it applies pressure across the muscle fibers. This method applies pressure to a small amount of tissue and gently forces it to move. Due to this direct pressure down into the tissue, areas which are already sore may flinch or contract. If your dog reacts with pain or surprise when you apply this method be sure to lighten your pressure or move to a nearby area.

Start this method one inch behind your dog's shoulder blades. Locate the center of her backbone, lengthen your fingers and place the fingerpads on the firm area of muscle approximately one inch to the side. Press lightly down into the muscle, then curl your fingers, moving the underlying hair, skin and tissue back toward your palm. Once you have slowly rolled the muscle in toward the spine, slowly uncurl your fingerpads and move it back to your starting position.

Push your fingerpads down into the tissue with just enough pressure so it moves when you move your fingers. If you are not pressing hard enough you will slide over the hair. Repeat this back and forth movement at least two to three times but no more than five times in a row in the same site. Once you have finished in one area move your hand down to the next section and repeat. When you finish one side of your dog's back, turn the dog or move your body, so you can reach the muscles on the other side of the backbone and repeat the sequence. Go slowly and adjust your pressure to your dog's comfort level.

As you practice, tune in to the quality of the tissue under your fingertips. Healthy relaxed muscles are firm but pliable. Tight, tense muscles are harder and may be pulled into rope or string-like bundles. The tight rope-like areas may be sore, but if you move slowly, the cross-fiber movement softens and unlocks the knotted tissues.

Link By Link
Place one hand on your dog's chest, to both hold and stabilize her. Run your free hand down the middle of her back, locating the knobs of the spine. Once your dog is comfortable, position your body close to her so you do not lean and strain your back. Put the pads of your fingers on one side of the spine and the pad of your thumb on the other side. You want your pads to be about a half-inch to an inch on either side of the backbone, though on a big dog the distance might be greater. You are seeking the spongy muscle area.

Next, press down into the tissue lightly so that when you push, you move the skin and a small amount of underlying muscle tissue forward with your fingers. Gently push your hand up toward your dog's head, about 1/4 to 3/4 inch. Use as little downward pressure as possible to move the tissue forward. Some dogs will have loose skin and muscle that will slide easily; other dogs' skin is so tight that you can barely move it. Either way, you only need 1/4 to 3/4 of an inch of slide.


If your pressure is too slight, your fingers will just slide over or rumple the dog's fur. Hold the tissue in the forward position for at least 15 to 30 seconds if not longer. The most common mistake people make when doing this for the first time is to get impatient and skip this waiting period. I recommend taking three deep, slow breaths before you slowly take the tension out of your fingers and let the tissue ooze back to your starting position. Then move your hand further forward, choosing a new spot 1/2 to one inch up the dog's back and repeat.

If your dog gets impatient while you are holding the tissue forward, talk to her or give her a little chest scratch with your supporting hand to distract her. If she is very sensitive, forgo "pushing" the tissue forward. Simply place your fingers on either side of the spine and press into the tissue lightly, holding the pressure for 15 to 30 seconds. Dogs with very sore backs might be unable to sit still for even this light pressure. If this is the case, I rest my flat open palm over the spine, relax my arm and shoulder and just breathe with the dog. Once this contact is accepted, I will attempt to slowly hug the tissue forward 1/4 to 1/2 inch with the flat hand rather than my finger tips. Hold this position for at least 15 seconds before slowly releasing the tissue.

Remember, the goal is to get the brain and body to focus on each link of the back separately from the entire backbone structure. You will see the best results if you move in small increments with as little pressure as possible and the real key, hold the movement for at least 15 to 30 seconds.

by Diane Thompson

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Vanessa Salvia

Giving your dog a paw massage will help their paws feel really good. It is similar to giving a human a hand massage. It relaxes the dog and allows for better circulation in the dog's paws. While you give your dog a paw massage, it is also a good time to check over the dog's paws for any abnormalities.

Here are some steps on how to massage dog paws. You know how relaxing a good foot massage can be after a long day on your feet? Well, the doggo equivalent of a foot massage is, you guessed it, a paw massage.

1. Start by laying your dog on the floor and then massage the dog's first fore paw gently.

2. Rub between the pads on the bottom of the paw, checking for signs of injury as you go.

3. Next, massage the back of your dog's paws, rubbing in a circular motion for 30 seconds per paw.

4. Squeeze the dog's paw gently for 3 to 5 seconds after you finish the massage.

1. Lay the dog on a mat on the floor or in a soft comfortable place where he can relax while you give the paw massage. If the dog refuses to lay down, you have him sit up beside you or on your lap.

2. Rub the dog's first fore paw gently. Rub between the pads on the bottom of the paw. Start between the pad of the first and second toe, then rub between each toe. Check the dog's pads for any injury or abnormality while you are rubbing.

3. Massage the back of the dog's paw gently with your thumb in a circular motion. Do this for about 30 seconds.

4. Squeeze the dog's paw in your hand for three to five seconds after you finish rubbing and massage the paw. Do not squeeze hard.

5. Drop the paw gently and do the same process for the other three paws. Your dog will love his paw massage and will feel much better as he runs around.


DOG REAR LEGS MASSAGE - This image (c) by Justin Paget/DigitalVision/GettyImages
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Vanessa Salvia

A massage is effective therapy for your dog, whether it is young or old and active or passive. As dogs age, muscle strain and age-related degeneration may cause them to have weak rear legs. Additionally, dogs that suffer from arthritis and joint problems tend to have weak rear legs. If you want to massage a dog with weak rear legs, follow some simple massage techniques and other tips and tricks for strengthening a dog's hind legs.

Causes of Weak Rear Legs
There are a few causes of weak rear legs in dogs. Before you undertake a massage or rehabilitation program, it is important to be sure of the cause of your dog's hind limb weakness. Your vet will be able to explain if the cause is due to an injury, diabetes, or an inflammatory condition such as arthritis. Cushing's disease is a glandular disease that can cause a release of too much cortisol, which can also cause rear leg weakness in dogs, explains Bulldogology. Degenerative myelopathy is an age-related problem that can cause leg weakness.

Dog Rear Leg Massage
Giving your dog a massage can be a great way to bond with your dog and help her improve an injury or condition. Arthritis and joint problems can be soothed by massage. VetInfo says to start slowly until you are sure that your dog is comfortable to the touch and gets used to the attention. Keep the sessions short and watch for signs of pain or signs that your dog is agitated. There are several techniques for massaging your dog's rear legs.

Compression means pushing the muscle against the bone with a flat hand. It is like petting but more firm. Use this technique on shoulders, hips, and legs. Start with a light pressure and build up until you know your dog is enjoying it.

Effleurage means to glide your hand down your dog's spine in the direction of his fur. This too is a lot like petting. This is a good way to start because it is a touch he is probably already used to and enjoys. This works well on your dog's tail.

Petrissage consists of semicircular strokes on muscular areas. Use your palms and fingers on your dog's pain points. Press in a circle along the shoulders, hips, back, and legs.

Vibration is a good way to end a massage. To do this, grasp your dog with your hand in a claw shape and gently shake and vibrate him. Only vibrate for a few seconds until you know he is enjoying it.

Similar to vibration, rocking is also a good way to end a massage. Hold your dog similar to how you would hold a baby and rock him back and forth. This is a relaxing touch. If your dog enjoyed the other massage techniques, he could be very relaxed and ready for sleep when you are done.

DOG REAR LEGS MASSAGE - Image (c) by Agency Animal Picture/Photographer's Choice RF/GettyImages
Strengthening Exercises
for Rear Legs

According to Full Stride Myofunctional Therapy and Nutrition, dogs recovering from surgery and injury or dogs with chronic conditions such as hip dysplasia can improve with a combination of strengthening and remedial exercises. Going for walks is a good strengthening and remedial exercise for most dogs, however, it is important to be sure that your dog is not in pain.

Treatment using an electrical stimulator, such as a TENS unit or a heat pack, can help alleviate pain enough to take your dog for a walk. Walking the dog on a short leash and encouraging her to use her rear legs can give her the strength she needs. Ortocanis also recommends encouraging your dog to sit and stand.

Again, this should be a technique for when you know your dog is not in pain. Using a rear support harness can give your dog the extra support she needs until her legs become stronger.

DOG REAR LEGS MASSAGE - This Image (c) Creative Commons
How to Massage a Dog with Weak Rear Legs
Sometimes, your dog might need specific kinds of massage. If your dog has weak rear legs, for example, there are some special techniques you can try. To start, you will want to have your dog lay down on his side.

Sit behind him, and hold the top portion of his rear leg in one hand while you place the other below his paw. From here, slowly stretch out the leg straight and hold it in this position for five second before going back to the original position. Repeat this stretch three times on each leg and try to stretch the leg a little further each time, but only if you can do so without causing your dog discomfort.

Other techniques to try
Hold your dog's rear leg in one hand. Use the flat of the palm of your other hand to gently press against the bone, pushing the muscle away from it. Slowly slide your hand down your dog's leg, pressing against the bone as you do. You can also try the pinch and release technique, in which you gently pull the skin slightly away from its leg with your fingers and release.



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Vanessa Salvia

Giving your dog a deep tissue massage can have many benefits for him. You do not need to be a massage therapist to do the job. Daily massages can help keep dog's muscles more relaxed and his blood circulating more freely.

You can use deep tissue massage to help relieve sprains and strains, relieve the pain of arthritis, improve a number of body functions such as the lymphatic fluids, the stimulation of many organs, and help his body to rid itself of numerous toxins. An added advantage to giving dog a full body deep tissue massage has been found to improve a dog's immune system.


1. Start with a relaxing walk - Start out by taking dog for a nice, long walk. This is a great way to stretch out those muscles and tire him out a bit which in turn, will help him to relax.

2. Start out with Petting - Pet the dog all over as this will help stimulate the blood flow through his muscles. It will also help to relax him and get him ready for what comes next.

3. Continue Gently - Start out with a gentle, all over body massage. The idea is to get dog used to the feeling of being massaged. This will also help to further relax dog so he is truly ready for when you start kneading his muscles more intently.

4. The Deep Massage - Using your hands like you would to knead bread dough, work from his shoulders down his back. Use a significant amount of pressure as you work. The idea is to reach deep down into the muscles and work out the knots. A deep tissue massage will help stretch out muscle fibers and significantly improve blood flow.

5. Final Massage - Go back to a gentle massage for a few minutes and then pet him all over. This will help stimulate blood flow and reenergize dog. Give him a treat and let him go lay down somewhere to relax and enjoy the afterglow.


1. Take a Hike - Take dog on a nice long hike. This will help burn off any excess energy, give him time to go potty, tire him out, and relax him. It can make it much easier to calm down and enjoy the massage you are going to offer him.

2. Start with the Big Guns - Start out by kneading dog's large muscles. These include the neck, shoulders, thighs, and rear. Use the heel of your hands to massage the muscles, then lift the muscles and squeeze them using the palm of your hand and your fingers. Don't squeeze too hard, or you can cause discomfort..

3. Legs Next - Take your hand and wrap it around dog's leg. Work your way down from shoulder or hip to paw, squeezing the muscle as you go. Start with his front Legs - first and then move to his rear legs. Take your time with this process..

4. As You Work - As you work your way along, if you find any areas of excess tension, use a little more pressure and knead the area. If you are causing him pain, back off on the pressure. Your goal is to relax, not to over stimulate..

1. Finish It Up - Finish up by using long, gentle strokes all over his body. Pet him to finish the job. You should have one very happy and relaxed pup. Give him a treat and let him go lay down for a nice long nap after the massage is done.

Be very careful with how much pressure you use as you can cause a deep tissue injury that can be very painful and hard to heal. If dog shows any signs that you are causing discomfort, stop, or at the very least, reduce the pressure you are using. This will help reduce the risk of injury. This is a good time to check dog's body all over for any signs of injury, fleas or ticks.

Talk to your vet before beginning a regular deep tissue massage routine. They may be able to demonstrate proper massage techniques that can get the most out of each massage. Let the dog to tell you if you are applying too much pressure or are hitting a very tender spot.

If he barks, growls, flinches, or pulls away, you will want to wait a little while before trying again. Never put pressure on an extreme injury such as a broken bone, a strained muscle, or other injury that should be looked at by a veterinarian. Consult your dog's vet beforehand to ensure that you are doing what is best for your dog.


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Shelly Graves

Humans are not the only ones that experience excessive gas - dogs suffer from flatulence as well and can ultimately have worse gas than humans. Gas is normally harmless and is a common occurrence, other times it can be a sign of an underlying health issue.

Even with the possibility of there being health problems, sometimes it is just gas that the dog cannot pass, and your pooch may need some assistance from you in releasing it. That is where you the owner will step in and participate in the universal practice of massaging gas out of the dog.

Dogs form gas because of bacterial fermentation of nutrients, just like humans. This sometimes results in gases being released. Gas can also be formed by dogs swallowing too much air, which happens more frequently than bacterial fermentation. When it is caused by bacterial fermentation, it is usually a result of a change in diet that does not agree with their stomach. This can be from the addition of "gas-positive" foods such as soybeans, beans, peas, spoiled foods, milk, spices, and many other high-fiber foods. Most of these are difficult for the dog to digest, allowing the gas to spill over and out of the dog's body.

As most gas does originate from a dog taking in too much air, it is important to understand and be able to identify situations that may be causing it. The main cause is eating too quickly, which can be initiated by poor training or by the need to compete with another dog for food. It can also be caused by feeding a dog too quickly after allowing them to run. This can be fixed with the use of slow dog feeders, because your pet needs to slow their breathing before attempting to eat and if the food is provided, they may attempt to eat before they are given the chance.

Depending on what is causing the gas build-up, the place where an owner will massage their dog will change. Gas may not just be stuck in their system, but it may be caused by the dog having anxiety, being tense, or suffering from the soreness that is preventing them from relaxing. All places require the same method of massaging, only the placement is changed.

When dogs experience large amounts of activity that their body is not used to or may not be suited for, especially for older dogs, they may begin to show signs of soreness. Limping or constantly laying down are signs that they were overworked over the weekend or trip and may need some assistance in having relief. As their bodies are suffering, they may be clenching their bodies in pain. The best way to relieve it is give your dog a relaxing massage by squeezing the muscles to remove the tension off of the tendons. No sudden or direct force is needed. Massaging over the next couple of days will reduce their soreness and keep it away.

A dog with anxiety does not only suffer mentally and in their behavior, but it can also affect their health and bodies. Anxious dogs tense up and block up their systems. They are more likely to become constipated as well as being stuffed with gas. Anxiety can be calmed by massaging the dog in large portions. Massage their back and gradually increase pressure if the dog is responding well. Move over the spinal cord and down their sides without touching their belly. Touching their belly can be unwanted and make the dog more anxious than they were, to begin with.

Pushing Gas
If the cause of the built-up gas is undetermined, or the owner is more concerned with removing the gas and then treating the cause, it may be necessary to massage their stomach and sides. Relief may be needed to prevent the dog from causing themselves harm or worsening their condition. Guide on How to Massage Gas Out of a DogTo provide immediate relief instead of allowing the dog to work it out on their own, the owner should gently massage their stomach and sides with the flat of their palms in circular movements.

The best method is to move down the stomach toward their rear as they are lying on their backs. Move gently as they may be in pain. Massage their sides as well by moving down their sides and towards their stomach. Rotate back and forth until most of the gas has been relieved. It is okay to feel some tenseness in their stomach from leftover gas, it should work its way out of their body overnight or after some relaxation. If there is still gas the next day, repeat the process.

Unfortunately, some dogs are not able to release their gas on their own and suffer from gas build-ups in their systems. Massaging parts of the dog will relieve said gas and alleviate discomfort, but it is important that massaging does not replace advice of a vet. There is a certain way that the dog should be handled and massaging freely may not benefit them the way owners might think. It is essential that owners massage dogs gently and only apply pressure when necessary. The massage is needed to relieve gas, so remember that the gas may be painful and putting unnecessary pressure on a sensitive area may unsettle the dog.

The best way to massage the dog is to flatten your palm and slowly move over the dog's body. Pay attention to areas that are hardened versus the areas that are soft and malleable. Feel the layers, their hair, skin, fat, muscle, and bone. For large areas, rub to relieve the pressure. For small areas, it may be more efficient to squeeze. To keep the dog calm and make sure they enjoy the massaging process, it may help to finish the massage by petting them. Give them a good scratch behind the ears or a belly rub. Ensure that they associate the massage with a good feeling rather than leaving them feeling uncomfortable and violated.



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Marc Smith
Paulette Jolliffe
Victoria Regan

There is no cure for osteoarthritis - once the cartilage is affected, the change is permanent. But there are many therapeutic treatments that can slow the progression of arthritis and keep the affected dog ambulatory with reduced pain.

Canine rehabilitation facilities can be found nationwide, offering physical therapy exercises, hydrotherapy, laser treatment, chiropractic care and acupuncture, all of which have been shown to greatly improve mobility. Research has shown that canine massage can decrease pain and discomfort, encourage relaxation and tension release, reverse muscle atrophy, relieve pain from arthritis and hip dysplasia, increase circulation and even boost immunity!

Canine massage not only helps relieve pain in your dog but it is also shown to increase the bond you have with your dog. It will also help with desensitization to touch and to top it off, it will build trust in your canine relationship! Massage therapy can work hand in hand with these modalities to minimize the degenerative effects of OA.

Massage therapy and stretching treatments were also provided, giving relief to sore muscles that had been working hard, and helping increase her flexibility and mobility. Recently, canine massage therapy is getting more recognition as an effective healing tool, and is one treatment that can really enhance an arthritic dog's quality of life.


1. Regular massage can help slow down the degeneration of joints.

2. Reduces muscular tension, which helps relieve some of the aches and pains associated with arthritis.

3. Stimulates circulation and helps drainage, which is very important because it feeds tissues and muscles that have been damaged by joint degeneration. Constricted muscles and tissues around the joints are loosened, allowing further reach when stretching the limbs, plus increased range of motion, flexibility and mobility.

4. Remove toxins. Provides some sweet quality time to bond with your best friend.

5. It breaks up adhesions that tend to form in the connective tissues of a stiff, arthritic dog.

6. Gentle manipulation of the tissues and muscles reduces pain, inflammation, muscle spasms and stiffness.

7. Prevents adhesions of muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

8. Maintains muscle mass while decreasing pain.

Unfortunately canine physiotherapists and acupuncture for your dog can be expensive, and not everyone can afford these types of services for their dog. Also not every dog enjoys or can mentally handle physiotherapy or acupuncture, due to anxiety or fear of an unfamiliar person manipulating and working on their body.

Doing canine massage yourself not only saves you money but also may dramatically increase your dog's quality of life. A dog which is stiff and sore will not be able to do much exercise, and as our dogs get older their walks tend to get shorter, usually due to arthritis and muscle pain. Pain and discomfort can even trigger or worsen behavioural issues.


1. Before you start: know the signs of discomfort in your dog! You must know where in the body the arthritis pain originates. Where is the arthritic pain? Is the pain in the knee, carpus, hip, shoulder or back?

You can gauge how much pressure to use by observing your dog. If your dog lifts their head, looks at the spot your massaging, moves away from your hands or you, or just generally seems uncomfortable, then decrease the pressure your using.

Other pain signals are, licking, panting, whining, yelping, excessive yawning, withdrawing away from your hands, ears pulled back or widened eyes. Also do not hug or lean into your dog when massaging them, as this will make them feel uncomfortable and trapped, which will trigger stress.

2. First help your dog get comfortable. Create a calming environment with little distractions. Have your dog lay on their bed and relax, it may take your dog a bit to relax at first, especially if you have a wiggly puppy. You should do canine massage after a walk or in the evening after your dog has been exercised, to ensure a better chance of calmness.

3. Make sure you are calm and present! If your mind is wandering or running at 100 kilometers a minute, and all you can think about is the house work that needs to be done or stressing about work, then your dog will pick up on your tension and stress. In turn it will be harder for your dog to relax. So make sure you are present and in the moment, calm and focused strictly on your dog and the time that you have chosen to spend with them. This will also help with the bond and trust building that is achieved through canine massage.

4. Once your dog has settled, you can start with some light and slow petting. Pet your dog and gently lengthen their limbs. You may even want to talk to them in a calm voice or even sing to them. Remember this is your time to bond and connect with your dog.

5. Consistency is key! To really make a difference, you need to massage your dog at least two to three times a week. Session should last 10 to 15 minutes- longer if your dog is a large breed. Massage should be done in a peaceful, calm setting.

6. Do not overwork any one body part, as this can lead to further inflammation. If your dog shows discomfort or cannot stay still, begin with shorter sessions and gradually increase duration over time. Early morning and evening are the most beneficial times to massage an arthritic dog - after an active day or in the morning when they are stiff or uncomfortable.

7. Massage around - not directly on the achy joint and on the surrounding muscle with long strokes or a gentle kneading motion. Also include the entire spine to encourage blood circulation to all parts of the body.

8. If your dog resists a particular spot on the body or certain massage techniques, move on to something that feels good. Deep tissue massage for injuries or pain relief should only be administered by a certified canine massage professional. If your dog's joints appear inflamed after a massage, wrap a cold towel around the area to soothe any pain and decrease inflammation. If inflammation persists, consult your veterinarian.

by Victoria Regan

There are thousands of different massage techniques but some basic ones that you can try with your dog include the following below:

Where to massage? - Neck, shoulders, hips, back and legs.

You can start with - a belly rub to calm your dog down.

Face massage - Rub between your dogs' eyes and around their forehead. This will relieve stress and encourage them to relax and lay their head down.

Long flow-like gliding strokes all over (Effleurage) - Similar to petting but with more pressure, this type of contact encourages blood flow to the tissues and muscles. It also encourages your dog to relax their body. Start at your dog's head or neck and work your way down. Keep in mind that some dogs do not enjoy their paws being touched, if this is the case for your dog, then skip the paws in order to decrease a stressful response.

Rubbing or Pressing - Use your full hand & palm to rub and press. You do not want to "dig in" with your fingers as this can cause to much pressure in one spot. If your dog has hip dysplasia, use less pressure around the joint spaces and hips.

Softly twisting the skin - This increases circulation to the space between the skin and muscle and encourages blood to rush to this location.

Massage along the spine (Petrissage) - You can do a soft kneading motion on both sides of the spine and work your way from tail to neck. This is especially good for dogs who are long and short, such as dachshunds and corgis. These breeds often has a middle spine which experiences less support, due to their unique body shape.

Squeezing - If your dog is comfortable with you touching their legs and paws, then you can gently squeeze their legs and paws and give them a nice foot rub. If you have paw wax this is a great time to apply paw wax to the pads of their paws, which will help with cracking paws too.

by Marc Smith

Start by petting your dog all over, then focus on the area you wish to massage.

Continue to stroke the area with a very light amount of pressure. This will increase the circulation in the muscles.

Be sure not to massage directly on your dog's painful joints but instead focus on the areas around the painful joints.

Next, lightly knead any tight muscles.

Do not overwork a muscle.

If your pet begins to resist in a certain area, move on to another area that feels good to him.

Alternate between periods of kneading and periods of lighter pressure to encourage circulation throughout the massage.

To finish the massage, soothe your pet into a state of total relaxation by petting him all over, and be sure to give him a treat for good behavior!


After your pet has just eaten - wait at least two hours after eating. If your pet is sick they may not want to be touched - just be sure to listen to their signals- they will let you know! Avoid massaging the back and belly of a pregnant animal. Just after intense exercise. Wait until your dog has a chance to cool down and rest.




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Your dog is a lean, keen smelling machine! Since smell is such an important sense to your dog, aromatherapy should be extra effective. Aromatherapy is the use of essential plant oils for therapeutic effect.

Effects can be both physical and or behavioral. Incorporating essential plant oils and the principles of aromatherapy and massage therapy can be very beneficial as physical properties of plant oils provide antibacterial, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying effects.


Aromatherapy also provides relaxing or stimulating effects, depending on the essential oils used, which complements massage therapies. As part of a massage therapy, aromatherapy can be used topically, with essential oils diluted in a carrier oil and applied as a massage oil, or essential oils can be diluted in a diffuser and distributed while a massage is taking place.

It is very important to remember that not all essential oils are appropriate for use with dogs, as some can be toxic. Also, essential oils need to be diluted in a carrier oil, and since your dog is often smaller than you are, smaller amounts of essential oils are adequate to provide therapeutic effects.


A dog's sense of smell is much more powerful than our own, and aromatherapy can be very effective for your dog, as he will definitely pick up the scent of the oil. However, this same sensitivity can also make your dog too sensitive to essential plant oil aromas.

Be sure to dilute essential oils and use smaller amounts for a smaller, sensitive dog. Remember that dogs are not people, some plant oils can be toxic to dogs and make your dog sick. Make sure to use non-toxic essential oils, use appropriate amounts for your dog's size, and dilute essential oils appropriately.


1. Prepare a Location - Prepare to massage your dog in a quiet spot, free from interruptions.

2. Dilute in Carrier Oil - Dilute an appropriate essential oil in a carrier oil. Popular oils for a dog's skin are lavender, which is soothing and relieves itching, peppermint, which repels insects and promotes blood flow, and chamomile, known for soothing minor skin irritations.

Talk to a holistic veterinarian or pharmacist about dilution ratios and dosage appropriate for your dog's size and skin type. Usually 3-6 drops of essential oil to 1 oz of carrier oil is a rough guideline. Carrier oils can be olive oil, almond oil or coconut oil.

3. Do a patch test - Put a small amount of the essential oil and carrier oil on a small area of your dog's skin, and wait 24 hours to make sure he does not have a reaction.

4. Rub oil on hands - If your dog does not have a negative reaction to the aromatherapy oil, take a small amount and rub between your palms to evenly distribute the essential oil and carrier oil.

5. Massage - Start massaging your dog; stroke, make circular motions or knead skin on neck, body and down legs to distribute the oils.


1. Pick Ventilated Area - Massage your dog in a quiet but well ventilated area.

2. Diffuse Essential Oil - Put a few drops of oil in water, in a diffuser, and allow room to become filled with the aroma for a few minutes before starting your doggy massage. Some essential oils used in aromatherapy for calming, that are beneficial during a massage and are safe for dogs are, lavender chamomile, sweet marjoram, cedar, and cypress. Sometimes oils are combined in a diffuser, but do not overdo it.

3. Stroke Your Dog - Start your massage by gently stroking your dog.

4. Massage - Start kneading or massaging in a circular motion, all over your dog. Observe your dog for discomfort from too much pressure or from being overwhelmed with scent. Remove your dog from the room if he sneezes excessively or seems distressed by scent.

5. Allow Therapeutic Exposure - After massaging, allow your dog to relax in the room with the aromatherapy scent so your dog gets a total of 20 to 30 minutes exposure, in order to get the full therapeutic effect of the diffused oils.

Avoid oral administration, except under the supervision of a holistic veterinarian. Use 100% pure essential oils that are safe for dogs, and dilute in carrier oils or water for diffusers. Remember if your dog is smaller than you, he needs a smaller dose than you would use.

Do not use aromatherapy with epileptic dogs, as scents can trigger seizures. Check with a holistic veterinarian before using aromatherapy on a pregnant or lactating dog. Keep essential oils away from the eyes, ears, and mouth. The use of aromatherapy with massage is a common practice for humans, why not for your dog!


Just remember that not all essential oils are appropriate for dogs, as some plants are toxic to dogs. Make sure you check with a reliable reference, like a holistic veterinarian or veterinary pharmacist for beneficial essential oils, dosage and dilution ratios.

Applying essential oils directly to the skin can be therapeutic, especially if your dog has a skin condition that could benefit from topical use of essential oils, like a fungal or parasitic infection. Aromatherapy can also be administered by diffusing scent in the air, for a calming effect on your dog


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Amy Shojai

The range of motion exercises where the pup's joints are moved is probably best left in the hands of a professional or have your veterinarian show you how to safely do this. But simple massage techniques can be safely done by you at home and your puppy will tell you where he wants the attention most, by backing his butt - end near your hands, or moaning with pleasure when you rub his shoulders.

Massage is a good way to relax with your pup after high energy play. Very young pups should not exercise too much anyway or can risk injuring themselves. Adolescent dogs, though, can be hard to contain and sometimes get sore just from growing so fast. Dogs that are active in canine sports like agility and flyball can become stiff, and a massage before and after these fun sessions can be helpful. A massage can ease the discomfort, and get the youngster ready to rumble all over again. Here are some massage techniques for you to try.

Effleurage - is a gentle long, slow strokes with your palm, starting at the puppy's head and continuing down to the tail and feet. This technique helps move the blood through the body but also is a stroke that encourages relaxation. Start with a soft touch, and then slowly increase the pressure of your palms.

Fingertip - massage uses the tips of your fingers in small, circular patterns to move the muscles beneath the skin. Do not press directly over the bone. Instead, use fingertip massage on each side of the spine, for example, to ease stiff muscles and tissues.

Petrissage - is sort of a combination of effleurage and fingertip massage and uses a kneading technique. Your pup may not need this intense type of massage or may object since it can be a bit painful on sore areas. Petrissage done correctly can move waste products out of the sore muscles.


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Humans are not the only species who can benefit from a good massage. This luxury can and should be extended to our furry companions, who can experience great relief by way of dog massage. Massaging your dog does not require a special certificate or extensive knowledge, either - virtually any pet parent can perform effective, yet gentle massage techniques on their fur baby as a part of their regular dog grooming routine.

Learn how to give a dog a massage, and you will be ready to give your dog the best treat of all relaxation and rejuvenation. Rubbing an area is not massage, and is annoying to most dogs. Stroking in the direction of the hair growth, all of the way to the dog's paws is relaxing and beneficial, stimulating lymph and helping decrease the buildup of toxins.


The Benefits of Dog Massage
A dog massage does not just feel good - it can also provide a host of health benefits for your pup, both physically and mentally. Dog massages can improve the health of your dog by increasing circulation, relaxing muscle spasms and muscle tension, correcting muscle imbalances, improving posture and gait, and promoting relaxation.

A dog that is in physical balance is likely to be in emotional balance, so massage can provide many layers of benefit for your dog. Massage for your dog can improve his connection through his body, so that he is more aware of where his body is in space, and more able adjust to shifting environmental factors or emotional stresses.

Beyond the physical and emotional advantages of performing massage therapy on your dog, this gentle treatment is also a surefire way to strengthen the bond you share with your furry companion.

Massaging your dog helps create a sense of calm and connection between the two of you, they can feel your intention when you focus on them, and pay attention to what you are feeling and how it is affecting them. The gentle touch and focused attention characteristic of a dog massage also helps pet parents have a more intimate understanding of their dog's body, allowing them to detect any issues that need to be addressed.

When to Massage Your Dog?
All dogs can benefit from a massage. In fact, the best time to introduce dog massage techniques is when your pup is young, healthy and active. Young dogs are still developing their immune system, and massage is a great for encouraging its growth and strength. This is also a good age to create a hands-on bond with your dog and to teach them how to relax and enjoy life.

If your dog suffers from certain medical afflictions, a dog massage can be especially beneficial for their health. Dogs with osteoarthritis, those undergoing chemotherapy and / or radiation, or dogs in general postoperative recovery can get relief through this gentle, focused treatment. Massage can be beneficial for many specific ailments such as arthritis, lameness, muscular injury, sports and overuse injuries, and some systemic diseases, but often medically therapeutic massage is best left in the hands of experts.

Three different types of canine massage are commonly used on senior dogs:

Trigger-point massage - utilizes a hands-on technique similar to that in acupressure. The massage begins like any other, with a scanning of the body for areas of tenderness that need healing. Once these points are located on the dog, the therapist will apply gentle pressure for 5 to 15 seconds and then lighter pressure to release the muscles and alleviate pain. This massage should be done by a trained massage therapist, one who is particularly adept in locating and releasing these trigger points. These are tender points on the dog and can be extremely sensitive if the area is pressed too firmly.

Therapeutic massage - is relaxing, promotes general well-being, boosts the immune system and increases circulation and muscle tone. It can be performed for many medical issues. Unlike trigger point massage, which focuses on specific pressure points, therapeutic massage involves long strokes and kneading techniques used on the muscle layers, which causes toxins to be released from the tissues and supplies nutrients to the muscles. This is a great massage for making dogs more comfortable and creating a better overall quality of life for them.

Sports massage - is utilized for the healthier, active senior dog. This massage is more intense than the others. A bit more pressure is used. A pre-sports massage is done before exercise. It is designed to prevent injuries by warming up the dog's muscles, which increases blood flow. The post-sports massage loosens the muscles and circulation after exercise, helping to prevent stiffness and soreness in the dog.

How to Massage Your Dog?
An easy way to give your dog a massage is with the help of some dog grooming supplies. Mr. Peanut's Hand Gloves grooming mitt has soft, flexible rubber tips that gently massage the skin and promote good circulation, while simultaneously removing dirt and excess hair from the coat.

The FURminator Long Hair deShedding Edge is a great way to gently massage your dog's coat and remove the undercoat and loose hair. And dogs love the feeling of the KONG Dog ZoomGroom dog brush, which removes hair like a magnet while stimulating and massaging the skin.

The gentle touch keeps your dog engaged, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stress for a happier and healthier dog. When stroking your dog, make sure to include the ears, tail, legs and paws. Many dogs hold emotional tension in their paws, and it is important when doing a massage for your dog that you include gentle work on the pads of the feet and between the pads. Although dog massages designed to treat certain medical ailments are best left to the professionals, Sullivan notes that there are certain techniques that you can try at home:

Effleurage Massage
This dog massage technique is the most commonly used in animal therapy, and is utilized to calm the tissues and warm up the body. Effleurage is used to affect the fluid dynamics at a superficial level. It is a good technique for initiating touch. Simply place your flat hand over your dog's skin and move over the muscles using a light pressure.

1. Create a calm atmosphere for your pet

2. Place your flat hand over your dog's skin

3. Move your hand over the muscles using light pressure

4. After about two to three minutes, move to another area like your dog's ears, tail, legs and paws

5. A relaxing dog massage will help calm your pet and help the two of you bond

Tapping Massage
(a form of tapotement)

Tapotement is a gentle, percussive stroke that engages the central nervous system and stimulates atrophied, as well as healthy, muscles. This technique is best to use when you need to get your dog's attention, or in combination with other strokes. Tapping involves the drumming of your fingers on a specific area of the body, and you can perform this on your pup by lightly placing your fingers on your dog's skin and tapping them each individually, like drops of rain. Keep in mind that each dog will react differently to the procedure, as some dogs may find it stimulating, while others find it sedating.

1. Get your dog's attention by drumming your fingers on a specific area of your dog's body

2. Lightly place your fingers on your dog's skin

3. Tap each finger individually

4. Move to other areas of your dog's body, like the ears, tail, legs and paws, if he finds it pleasing and seems relaxed

5. If your pet seems stimulated, instead of relaxed, consider switching to an effleurage dog massage



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Some essential oils used in aromatherapy for calming, that are beneficial during a massage and are safe for dogs are, lavender chamomile, sweet marjoram, cedar, and cypress. Sometimes oils are combined in a diffuser, but do not overdo it. Start your massage by gently stroking your dog. If you plan to use essential oils topically on your dog during his massage, be sure to use pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils. Here is an example of dog massage oil:

1. Castor / hazlenut / sweet almond / coconut oil 15ml

2. Eucalyptus essential oil 4 drops

3. Peppermint essential oil 4 drops

4. Spearmint essential oil 3 drops

5. Ylang Ylang essential oil 3 drops

To make it yourself, place one teaspoon vegetable glycerin, one tablespoon grain alcohol or vodka, one teaspoon sulfated castor oil, and 10 drops grapefruit seed extract in an 8-ounce cobalt blue, green, or opaque spritzer bottle. Add three drops valerian, two drops vetiver, four drops petitgrain, three drops sweet marjoram, and two drops sweet orange essential oil. Add seven ounces spring or distilled water - fill to top.



1. Carrot Seed (Daucus carota) - Skin care, first aid, healing, scarring, skin conditions. Super gentle.

2. Cedarwood, Atlas (Cedrus atlantica) - Improves circulation, helps deter fleas. Skin care.

3. Chamomile, German (Matricaria recutita) - Also called blue chamomile. Skin-soothing anti-inflammatory. Burns, allergic reactions, skin irritations.

4. Chamomile, Roman (Anthemis nobilis) - Intensely calming and antispasmodic. Wound care, teething pain.

5. Clary sage (Salvia sclarea) - Different from common garden sage. Gentle, sedating, calming.

6. Eucalyptus radiata (Eucalyptus radiata) - The gentlest, best tolerated, most versatile eucalyptus (there are many). Anti-inflammatory, antiviral, expectorant. Diffuse as room air cleaner, deodorizer, flea repellent.

7. Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) - Tonic, antifungal. For skin ailments, yeast overgrowth, fungal ear infections. Ticks dislike all rose fragrances, including this one.

8. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) - Fresh, warm, spicy (do not settle for ginger that smells stale, musty, or rank). Motion sickness, indigestion (see Peppermint), useful in massage oils for sprains, strains, dysplasia, arthritis.

9. Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) - Horrible smelling, incredibly effective essential oil (some people and dogs do like it). Also called Immortelle or Everlasting. Heals skin conditions, cuts, abrasions, wounds, injuries. Relieves pain.

10. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) - Used by the makers of pet aromatherapy products more than any other essential oil. Gentle, antibacterial, antipruritic (anti-itch), stimulates rapid healing, acts as a central nervous system sedative, very relaxing, deodorizing.

11. Mandarin, Green (Citrus reticulata) - The sweetest essential oil, very relaxing. For fear, anxiety, stress. Avoid red mandarin, which is not the same, and use only organic green mandarin. This is not a distilled oil but is pressed from the rind of the fruit.

12. Marjoram, Sweet (Origanum marjorana) - Pleasing, smooth herbal fragrance, calming, antispasmodic effects, strongly antibacterial. A recommended replacement for tea tree oil in blends for pets. Bacterial skin infections, wound care. Repels insects. Reduces undesirable behaviors of intact males.

13. Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) - Ancient resin with deep, warm, earthy fragrance. Anti-inflammatory, antiviral. Puppy teething pain, irritated skin. Boosts immune system. Opoponax myrrh (Commiphora erythraea) has similar properties and repels ticks.

14. Orange, Sweet (Citrus sinensis) - Popular, uplifting, pleasant. Calms, deodorizes, repels fleas, treats skin conditions. Use organic sweet orange oil to avoid pesticide residues. Pressed, not distilled.

15. Peppermint (Mentha piperita) - Digestive aid; stimulates circulation for injuries, sprains, strains, arthritis, dysplasia. Insect repellent. Relieves pain and itching. To prevent nausea and motion sickness, mix one tablespoon vegetable oil, seven drops ginger, and eight drops peppermint, give three drops orally.

16. Ravensare aromatica (Cinnamonum camphora) - Gentle, antiviral, antibacterial.

17. Rose (Rosa damascena) - Expensive, wonderful, makes any shampoo, spray, or grooming product luxurious. Stabilizes central nervous system. Calming. Add one to two drops to blends for itchy, irritated, or dry skin.

18. Thyme linalol (Thyme vulgaris, chemotype linalol) - Common garden thyme has six known chemotypes, or chemical profiles. Thyme linalol is the most gentle and useful. Relaxing, antibacterial, antifungal without the harsh skin irritation associated with common thyme. Balancing tonic.

19. Thyme thujanol (Thyme vulgaris, chemotype thujanol) - Like thyme linalol plus immune system stimulant, liver detoxifier, antiviral. Kurt Schnaubelt, PhD, founder of the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy, recommends applying thyme thujanol immediately after a tick or tick bite is discovered in order to help prevent Lyme disease. For immune-boosting blends or when a powerful antibacterial is needed without caustic, skin-irritating effects.

20. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) - Relaxing, helpful for separation anxiety or fear of loud noises, storms, fireworks, new situations.

21. CBD Oil & Dog Massage Therapy - Think of CBD oil dog massage therapy as the calming meditation of the molecular world. It delivers balance from within and shows up as a calm and regulated dog. In fact, CBD oil can deliver many benefits when applied directly as a dog massage therapy treatment.

This therapy can be easily accessible from home. Whether your dog is suffering from anxiety when in the car, is fearful of loud noises, suffers from constant tension and stress - CBD therapy is a true healer.

In addition, it can also help to alleviate the pain associated with arthritis. So, if your dog is getting up there in years, adding in the right dosage of CDB oil can enhance their life in later years too.

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Samantha Randall

Generally, you do not need any dog massage tools to provide the above mentioned benefits of massage to your dog. However, some tools make it easier for you to massage the dog in case your hands get tired to quickly, while others are better for the specific types of massages such as calming and anxiety.

From rubber-nubbed brushes to roller balls, there are a few dog massage tools to choose from. Check out our picks for the best. This silicone tool mixes tiny bristles with thick nubs to not only massage your dog,s muscles, but also remove loose, shedding hair. Simply slip it over your hand and adjust the strap for a comfy fit.

Another dual-action massage tool, this oven mitt-shaped dog groomer (for right hand only) is covered with rubber tips on the palm, which also makes for a relaxing massage while you get your doggo's coat in shape. Can be used dry or wet for pre or post-bath rubs.

PetWell All-Over Handheld Massage Roller Pets

PetWell Back & Neck Reliever Handheld Massage Roller Pets

Pet Bath & Massage Brush by Hertzko

Body Back Scalp Massager

Dog Massage Shower Sprayer Hose and Attachments for Indoor and Outdoor use




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Your dog loves affection in all forms, including massage. While non-dog lovers may scoff at the idea, massage therapy is a growing trend in pet care and it is having noticeable positive results. Dogs that enjoy being pet will enjoy massage. In the same way a massage makes us feel sleepy and relaxed, so will a successful doggy massage.

You should never force a dog to accept being massaged and always stop if the dog is anything other than willing. A dog that wriggles, whines, or refuses to relax is trying to tell you something. It might be they are not comfortable - perhaps lying on a hard surface, are in pain, or you plain are not massaging them right. Whatever the reason, stop and review what you are doing and how.

Remember - all dogs are individuals. For every dog that is friendly and would rather lick the mailman than bark at him, there is another dog who is overly anxious, fearful, or perhaps even aggressive. Since massage involves touching the dog to induce a state of deep relaxation, if that dog dislikes being stroked, then a massage is not going to go well.

Body Language Signs a dog is feeling a massage are those of deep relaxation. Look for the following signs which show you are hitting the right spot:
Wag Tail
Ears Drop
Stomach Flip
Tongue Hanging

More signs to watch out for if your dog is enjoying a massage include:
Calm Behavior
Deep Breathing
Slowed Heart Rate
Relaxed Limbs
Heavy Eyelids

Only a dog that trusts you and relaxes will benefit from massage. Therefore, it is crucially important to first work with the dog so that they are comfortable with hands-on contact. If the dog pulls away from being stroked, then they are not going to appreciate the more intense nature of massage.

Step number one is to praise the dog and offer a small titbit when they approach you. Obviously, if they are your dog then this bit is super-easy, but this may not be the case with an unfamiliar dog. Avoid making eye contact, as this is threatening to dogs, and wait for them to approach you. Then, talk in a quiet sing-song voice and drop treats on the ground to help embolden them.

Once the dog is happy with your presence and being stroked, proceed to the next step. Make sure you have a comfortable padded surface for the dog to lie on. A VetBed is ideal as is a thick blanket. Encourage the dog to lie in a comfortable position, but again, when starting out, do not force them into any particular position.

Once the dog has settled, you may wish to have an assistant gently cuddle the dog, so as to steady them in one place. Start with light, slow strokes of the hand, to test out how the dog reacts. Praise them in a loving voice as they remain calm or relaxes further. Gradually increase the pressure to a therapeutic level.

More and more, veterinarians and trainers are looking to human therapies and treatments to expand their ability to help our furry friends. Massage therapy has already been proven to be effective in alleviating a plethora of problems from tight muscles, pain, anxiety, and lowering blood pressure in humans. Professionals in the dog world are finding the same results when it comes to your dog.

Massaging your dog feels good to your dog, but also shortens the healing time of sprained ligaments and strained muscles. It strengthens the immune system, stimulates liver and kidney function, and improves circulation of the lymphatic and blood system. Massage therapy has also been shown to aid in digestion, reduce pain and swelling as well as scar tissue, improve movement and balance by strengthening your dog's proprioception, as well as reduce muscle spasms, tension, and stiffness. Massage therapy also helps to nourish his skin and coat.


When you massage your dog on a regular basis, you are providing yet another opportunity to bond with and get to know him. He will become more socialized in having hands laid on him and you will quickly learn which spots he needs you to focus on as well as spots to avoid. In massaging your dog, you will learn his skin, fur, muscles, and skeletal structure. Should he develop any problems, you will be more likely to feel them and notice them sooner and will be able to talk to your veterinarian about what you have discovered.

Early detection of problems can decrease the level of medical interventions necessary as well as recovery time. Studies have also shown that people who give massages also experience a decrease in blood pressure and feelings of anxiety. Massaging your pet is almost as beneficial to you as it is to him. Massaging your pet also helps you provide support to him if he has an anxious personality with certain triggers. If a storm is coming, or it is Fourth of July, and loud sounds are a trigger for him, you can provide him a relaxing massage to help him get through.

Massaging your dog can take as few as ten minutes a day. It is important that your dog is calm and in a submissive state when you start the massage. Starting when he is fearful could increase that emotion. Often a short walk is enough to get him in the mood. You can start with simple stroking, gently and with a flat open palm, from one end of his body to the other.

You can start at the head - go over his body to the tail, and then down all four of his legs. Your next step is to use the effleurage stroke, which is a gliding stroke that uses medium pressure from the whole hand. This stroke focuses on the major muscles, and should always move towards your dog's heart. Move from his tail to his torso, his toes towards his chest to keep the flow towards his heart.


These strokes help the lymphatic system and can help alleviate fluid retention and swelling. For a deeper level of massage that focuses on knots in soft tissue and relieving more tension, use petrissage. This is the compressed kneading of the muscles. You can "roll" his skin and watch his tail wag away.

After he is warmed up, if you know he has injured certain areas, you can apply a gentle chopping motion or compression with your palm on those injured areas in a pumping motion. This often breaks up spasms and allows fluid to relieve the pain in the area. Throughout the massage, talk softly and soothingly to your dog.

Watch him for signs of discomfort and stop if at any point he seems upset or uncomfortable. Some dogs can only tolerate massage for short periods of time, so start slowly and let his reaction guide you.

There are certain areas you need to be especially careful of when massaging your dog. When working on his back, do not press directly onto his spine. When working on his paws, note if he pulls away or kicks at you when you touch his paw pads. Dogs often do not like to be touched between their toe pads and have an automatic kick response to being touched there. Also, note if one or more legs begins kicking in a rapid fashion. You may be spending too much time in an area that is triggering his automatic kick reflex.

His sensory system cannot handle the massage in that area and you may be making him uncomfortable. Always use caution in using massage on dogs that have open wounds, stress fractures, blood-clotting problems, or tumors. It is important to speak with your veterinarian if he has chronic health issues or unexplained pain before you start using massage. If his problems are behavioral, speak to a dog trainer about ways in which massage therapy can help. You can also ask your trainer if she is trained, or knows someone who is trained, in canine massage therapy techniques.



This article is proudly presented by


Leslie DeMatteo

Dog reflexology, sometimes interchangeably referred to as acupressure, is an ancient healing technique with some of its origins in Japan. While traditional acupuncture uses needles to activate the pressure points, acupressure uses the thumbs and index fingers. This makes acupressure a safe and non-invasive way to provide holistic healing to a dog or their humans. Pet massage is similar to human massage in some ways. It is to be used in conjunction with regular medical care and is not to be used as a treatment for an illness. It cannot reverse or cure diseases. Petting tends to be random rubbing, while massage is conscious touch.

If you live with a high-energy dog, it can get frustrating trying to calm the over-excited bouncy dog. When high energy pups are not able to get outside or need to be restrained for long periods of time, for instance while traveling in a vehicle, it becomes especially challenging to keep them calm. Even a dog with a naturally calm disposition can feel heightened anxiety at times, and for these pups as well, acupressure can be a great tool. Massaging the various pressure points of such a dog provides a transformative, soothing and calming effect. There are additional benefits as well. Canine reflexology is ideal for rehabilitating a dog with injuries.

It can help relieve muscle and joint pain to provide gradual relief to an ailing dog. Dog massage techniques combined with the right pet care products can improve a dog's health immensely.

Finally, dog massage or reflexology is perfect for rewarding a pup for good behavior. Applying acupressure to the various canine pressure points stokes relaxation and pleasure. Dog massage is a great way to bond with your dog. Your physical touch promotes bonding and makes your doggy feel loved and cared for by his favorite human.

Medically, The part of theautonomic nervous system originating in the brainstem and the lower part of the spinal cord that, in general, inhibits or opposes the physiological effects of the sympathetic nervous system, as intending to stimulate digestive secretions, slow the heart, constrict the pupils, and dilate blood vessels. Because of this, simple and consistent massaging with responsive pressure can have a calming effect.

Animal Massage in History
The history of canine massage dates back to ancient times. In India during the development of varmalogy, not only human but animal bodies were charted, resulting in what we refer to as trigger points. Julius Caesar travelled with a personal massotherapist.

This masseuse also worked on Caeser's war dogs. The first known documentation of massage was in 2700 BC in China. Massage techniques continued to develop throughout history and are mentioned in the early writings of the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Turks, Persians, and Japanese. Early Egyptian hieroglyphics even depicted "animal healers" using massage techniques, and horse massage was practiced in ancient China and Rome.


Julius Cesar was accompanied on his various wars with a personal masseur, who also worked on Cesar's war dogs. It is therefore relevant to realize just how ancient the practice of massage is, which dates back over 5,000 years! It would be nice to think this is perhaps the beginning of massage making a cross-over to canines. In truth, massage as an animal therapy started earlier than this.

Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and old Indian writings, tell of animal healers using hands-on therapies such as massage. Moving forward to the modern day, massage is one of a range of ancient therapies that have a place in veterinary physiotherapy.

There are recognized techniques that are carefully taught including clapping, coupage, effleurage, kneading, percussion, and petrissage. It is interesting to note that as ancient as massage therapy is, it is still evolving and changing.

Just as massage therapy has been utilized throughout history, so too has massage been utilized in the care of animals, both companion animals and livestock, throughout history. References to massage in general and animal massage specifically have been found in ancient India, Egypt and China.

Experiments involving the physiological effects of massage have been done as early as the 1800s. And, in the 1970s, Jack Meagher began experimenting with massage therapy on race horses, even working with those in the Olympics in 1976. By 1985 he had written his book Beating Muscle Injuries, addressing the prevention and treatment of muscle injuries in horses.

DOG MASSAGE HISTORY & ORIGINS - This Image (c) Creative Commons

As in humans, massage on animals can benefit them at any time, but massage can also be utilized pre- and post-event to improve performance in those animals that perform in sporting events such as dog and horse racing. It is also important to have a working knowledge of the terms used for each type of animal you are working with. When working on animals, it is important to have a thorough knowledge of the systems of the body in each species of animal you are massaging.

This means that having a working knowledge of the cardiovascular, muscular, skeletal, digestive, respiratory, nervous and integumentary systems of each species of animal you work on. It is also important to note that animals can be much more sensitive than humans, especially their respiratory, digestive and integumentary systems as their senses may be more acute. This means that they may not tolerate strong scents, changes in diet, extreme heat or ointments and topical treatments as well as we might.

Because animals cannot speak, they must be evaluated by other means: palpation, gait analysis, conformation analysis - how they stand and hold themselves, and observation of their movements. Experience with the type of animal you are working with is vital as you cannot know if an animal is moving incorrectly without first knowing what correct movement looks like in that species.

Dog Massage Physical Benefits
Dog massage therapy engages the "Flight and Fight" response. A fast, vigorous massage will awaken the nervous system which energizes the body. It engages the sympathetic nervous system, also known as the "Flight and Fight" system. This prepares the body for an emergency situation where it may be necessary to defend itself (fight) or run away (flight). The dog is in a proactive and excitatory state, both physically and mentally.

Dog massage also stimulates the "Rest and Digest" response. A more sedate, rhythmic massage will relax the body and helps to relieve the effects of stress. Dog massage therapy helps to induce a relaxation response to touch via the parasympathetic nervous system. This is also known as the "Rest and Restore" or "Rest and Digest" system. This system is initiated in order to bring the body back to its normal resting state.

It causes the parasympathetic nervous system to slow the heart and breathing rates, lower the blood pressure and also to promote digestion. Furthermore, it replenishes the organs and tissues with energy via nutrients absorbed by increased activity of the gastrointestinal tract. The dog is relaxed due to the decrease in stress levels, as it is perceived to be safe and free from danger.

Additionally, dog massage increases the flow of five different systems in mammals:

1. Blood (circulatory system, bringing oxygen to the area)

2. Lymphatic (cleansing system, so toxins can be expelled through lymph glands)

3.Cerebral spinal fluid (moves up and down spine and bathes skull, vertebrae, sacrum)

4. Synovial Fluid - bathes the joints to increase range of motion.

5. Chi - according to Traditional Chinese Medicine this is the life force that flows through meridians in the body. If something is blocked, it leads to imbalance and potentially illness.

Massage Techniques in Action
Massage techniques also mirror those utilized in human massage: compression, direct pressure, effleurage, petrissage, friction, vibration and tapotement, or percussion. Compression may be used to increase circulation through a "pumping" action. Direct pressure, like compression, relieves hypertonic muscle tissue and increases circulation, re-oxygenating and eliminating trigger points. Effleurage is used to "warm up" muscle tissue and aid in recovery from fatigue.

This is also used to soothe and calm animals that may be experiencing some stress. Petrissage strokes can be used to feel and evaluate the tissue underlying the area, to roll the skin breaking up restrictions in fascia and to increase circulation, bringing in fresh nutrients for recovery and removing accumulation of fluids and waste for removal. Friction affects deeper layers of muscle by compressing the tissue against the bone, freeing adhesions and breaking up areas of restrictions. Finally, tapotement percussion and vibration can be used to decrease nerve sensation before deeper techniques are utilized or to loosen tissue and joints, allowing for greater range of motion.

Dog reflexology not only relaxes your dog, but it addresses some canine behavioral issues as well. Ensure your dog is in a quiet non-distracting place for the massage. You will need one or both hands to massage the various pressure points. You can perform dog massage in the comfort of your home, you will need:

A Quiet Environment
A Clean Rug for your dog to lie on

How to apply canine acupressure in the 5 main pressure points
To successfully perform acupressure on your dog, you have to be aware of their various pressure points. All canines have roughly 5 main pressure points. They include:

Yin Tang (between the eyes)
Yang Tang (the tempos)
Stomach 36
Shen Men

Yin Tang Dog Reflexology
This is the area between the eyes and eyebrows. In a dog, massaging this area brings instant relaxation and improves the canine's focus. Yin Tang is perfect for a dog that has a short attention span. Yin Tang acupressure is performed with your thumbs. Your other fingers go under the dog's muzzle to hold him steady. Gently massage between the eyes in slow circular motions. The smooth movements of your thumbs can relax your dog's mind. You can alternate this with up and down thumb movements to relax your dog even further. Some dogs may not respond to Yin Tang right away. You may have to massage other pressure points first before coming back to the head.

Yang Tang Dog Reflexology
Yang Tang refers to pressure points located on the dog's tempos. You will need your first two fingers - index and middle, to gently massage this area. Your last two fingers should hold your dog's head steady while you massage. This is also a great way to bond with your dog as you both stare into each other's eyes.

Baihui Dog Reflexology
Massaging the Baihui pressure points - lower back at the base of the tail, invokes relaxation and a feeling of well-being. This acupressure technique is ideal for dogs that have lots of pent up energy. Ensure your dog is lying on their side. Gently make circular soothing motions around the sacrum.

Alternate between light and medium pressure to reach the nerves and muscles. Baihui acupressure helps dogs get in tune with themselves. If you have a dog that seems restless and frantic, this technique can help to ground them and bring them into the present. Some dogs are sensitive about their tails being touched. Avoid the tail if your dog indicates any discomfort.

Stomach 36 (or St 36)
Most humans are invited by dogs to discover this on their own, but massage this area and your dog will be loyal to you for life. This is the belly area close to the hind legs. It is an area of skin that feels tender to touch. Massaging with your whole palm instantly activates relaxation in your dog.

Shen Men (Ht 7 and Pe 6)
In dogs, these points are targeted with paw massage. There are various benefits to massaging your dog's paws:

It helps dispel heat and anxiety

It clears your dog's mind

It can calm your dog's spirit

Hold your dog's paws and massage them making up and down motions with your fingers. Alternatively, lay your dog down to work on one paw at a time if they are more comfortable that way. Touching your dog's paws may activate their instinct for play. Ensure your dog has properly exercised earlier in the day before performing this acupressure technique in order to achieve the greatest benefit.

Preventative Dog Massage
Massages are not always about healing, sometimes if done properly before strenuous activities they can actually prevent an injury. In competitions like agility runs dogs have to perform jerking movements over and over. If not properly warmed up and stretched this can lead to injury just like humans. Massages can help prevent this through loosening tissues and joints to prepare for these movements as well as getting blood flow pumping to warm up and stimulate any body part that might face strain. A dog massage can be a great thing to keep your dog at their prime, feeling fresh and rejuvenated.





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Clinical Canine Massage is a non-invasive therapy for dogs that rehabilitates them from muscular injury and helps to support orthopaedic issues like arthritis. It is also suitable for sporting dogs and senior dogs with results usually being seen in 1-3 sessions.

A therapist should have a minimum of 2 years training and be registered with the Canine Massage Guild. A registered therapist will use 4 disciplines of massage encompassing over 50 techniques - myofascial release, both the direct and indirect approach, remedial sports massage, deep tissue massage and Swedish massage.

A practising professional therapist will also attend continuing professional development (CPD) to include other disciplines including facilitated stretching and manual lymphatic drainage.

The Outcome Of Clinical Canine Massage Is Typically:
Improved mobility and activity levels

Resolution or reduction of lameness/limping and stiffness

Improved character & mood

Return to normal posture and gait

A fully rehabilitated muscular injury

Able to return to activities of daily living - up & down stairs, walks

A happier dog more willing to be examined, petted or groomed

A Typical Clinical Canine Massage Will Entail:
Gait Analysis

Postural Analysis

Superficial Palpation

Full Consultation , Medical History and ADL Assessment

A discussion with the owner on expectations of the therapy

45-50 minute massage therapy session

Full diagrammatic feedback to owner

Home care plan and other recommendations

A maximum of 3-4 initial sessions although some dogs need less

Clinical Canine Massage May Be Used:
To pinpoint and rehabilitate muscular injury and issue successfully in 1-3 sessions

To provide pain management for arthritis, hip dysplasia and other orthopaedic issues

To remove trigger points and spasms and to normalise muscular function and activity

To support senior dogs and those who seem to be slowing down

To improve gait and posture

As an aid in pain management for dogs intolerant to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or with renal dysfunction

To enhance the performance of sporting and agility dogs

To improve the dog's ability to be examined, handled and groomed by addressing myofascial dysfunction.


This article is proudly presented by
Samantha Randall

Canine Massage: A Complete Reference Manual by Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt

The Complete Dog Massage Manual by Julia Robertson

Healing Touch for Dogs by Michael W. Fox

Balance Your Dog by C. Sue Furman



This article is proudly presented by


Dr. Barbara

Want to start a career in canine massage therapy but do not know where to start?

1 - Determine if animal massage is legal in your state
While most states do not have licensing boards pertaining to animal massage, there are different regulations from state to state mainly depending on the state's veterinary board. Some states do not allow anyone except a licensed veterinarian to massage animals, while other states allow certified animal massage therapists to work under veterinary supervision or referral and other states allow animal massage without any veterinary affiliation.

List of Animal Massage Laws by US State

2 - Decide what type of course is best suited for you
There are many canine massage programs available ranging from one day or weekend courses to 100+ hour courses. You will find courses that are completely hands on, ones that have both home study and classroom requirements and ones that can be completed completely online. There are pros and cons to each which you must consider before choosing a school.

Classroom Programs:
Pros:these classes will offer you the most personal guidance while you are learning the massage techniques.Cons: you will have to travel to the location where the course is held which comes with additional expenses - plane flight or gas expense, hotels, food, taking days off work and other expenses. Another con is that you must be available during the specific days the course is held.

Home Study with Classroom hours:
Pros: these courses have a little more flexibly as far as the time you have to complete it since there is an online component. They will also offer the same personal guidance as a classroom only program since you will do part of your training in person. Cons: these types of courses have the same cons as a hand's on only program. You will need to travel with adds expenses to your cost of education and you will need to be available during the specific class dates.

Online Course:
Pros:Start and complete the course on your own schedule without deadlines or timeframes. If something comes up in your life and you need to put the course on the back burner, you can without losing any registration fees. These courses are also usually more economical since you do not have to add on the expenses of traveling. Cons: you do not get the same personal one on one guidance as you would in a classroom setting.

3 - Find a program that is affiliated with other organizations
Since animal massage is not regulated by the state, there is no state licensing board for it. This means that pretty much anyone can teach animal massage. To ensure that you are taking a quality course and receiving a valid certification, make sure that the program you choose is affiliated with other bodywork organizations.

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) is a massage organization for licensed human massage therapists. They will approve some animal massage courses as continuing education for their members. If a course has the NCBTMB seal of approval, then you know it has been reviewed and approved by this strict organization.

The International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork (IAAMB) is another great organization that offers membership to those who have received a certification from an approved school - schools must apply and meet their requirements to become approved. If the program you choose is approved by IAAMB, then you will be able to become a member of their organization which will provide you with support as you are practicing animal massage and options for malpractice insurance in the US and Canada.

4 - Enroll, complete and start practicing!
Enroll in the course that meets all your requirements. Complete the course material and receive your certification and start practicing! Note that is definitely helps if the program you choose also has a business aspect to it. You could be the best canine massage therapist in the world, but if you do not know how to run your own business, you will not be successful.​

What dogs will be your clients?
Ways to find clients include networking with veterinarians, animal physical therapists, groomers and dog walkers. Although every dog needs massage, not every dog should be your client. Just as you may not enjoy everyone's company, you will notice that there are sizes and breeds that you may find yourself attracted to or avoiding.

Working Dogs
Canines that work for police, search & rescue or military organizations are one type of dog that can benefit from massage therapy.

Sport Dogs
Sport dogs are athletes and their owners and handlers understand how massage enhances training, addresses sports injuries; and maintains health in the face of long-term arthritis, tissue and bone weakness, strain, fatigue and hyperactivity.

They embrace trigger-point neuromuscular releases. They take care of their elderly, retired athletes. You would connect with these dogs at agility events, sport dog clubs and local dog events. Contact the event coordinator and request to have a booth where you can demonstrate and offer canine massage. There will be a fee. You may not earn enough to cover the fee and your expenses at the first few events, but as your reputation grows, so will your following and so will your income.

Geriatric Dogs
Another group of canine clients that are ready for massage are geriatric pet dogs. These dogs' owners are looking for anything that will add a few quality years to their dogs' lives. The dogs are so appreciative and communicative about the way they feel when massaged that their owners are eager to return for more sessions. Many of these dogs' owners prefer to have their dogs massaged at home, so be ready to schlep your table on house calls. I have a physical clinic and encourage clients to come to me. That way, they do not have to pay a travel fee, which they appreciate.

7 Keys to Marketing Canine Massage

1. Give yourself time to create a great website and Facebook page, business cards and brochures. Post short videos on Facebook and Twitter to let the world know your style of canine massage exists, what it looks like, and that it is available.

2. Be patient. Give yourself time to learn and make mistakes. Give yourself time to enjoy the journey.

3. Practice massage on many dogs. It is always nice to get paid; and it is even better to develop your craft. Do not be stymied if your first clients are the dogs of friends or people who cannot pay. They are part of your education and their word of mouth appreciation will be a big part of your marketing campaign.

4. Surround yourself with supportive, loving friends and family.

5. Continue to affirm your power and commitment to become a canine massage practitioner. You may be tested by others.

6. Develop a network of professionals to help you. Running a business takes many hats, and you have only one head.

7. Returning clients come back because they trust and like you and will continue as long as you are passionate about what you do.






This article is proudly presented by
Jonathan Rudinger
Dr. Sarah Kalivoda

After a long day at work, most people appreciate a good massage. That deep, steady pressure on our tired and aching muscles has many wonderful properties, from deep relaxation to the release of "unknotting" through to recovery from injury. But more than that, a great massage leaves you feeling on top of the world, in a relaxed and carefree way.

So what about dogs? Do they feel the same relaxing effects of massage and, indeed, can they reap the same benefit to their general well-being as people? The answer is "Yes" since massage is a great way of connecting with your dog and can alleviate a number of problems including anxiety and arthritis.

If you have had the pleasure of a therapeutic massage administered by a professional, you know that it can be a life changing experience. Pain can vanish, the body seems realigned and your mood is definitely relaxed. So the question is, what are some of the differences between the human and the canine massage?

Differences between Human and Canine Massage
With a canine, the professional massage practitioner must stay absolutely present, or else the dog will get up and walk away. A dog will not tolerate deep pressure that induces "exquisite pain," as we term it in the human world.

Dogs live in the moment and do not have the capacity to project into the future that relief may come after enduring discomfort. If it hurts now, it may hurt forever unless the dog does something to make it stop. So, moving away, yipping, snapping and biting are natural responses. Many of these responses are mitigated because the dog owner is present throughout the massage session.

Dogs use a wider, and different, range of senses than the five that we do. They are hardwired to notice sounds, movement and subtle nuances of smells. They are keenly aware of everything that is going on in the room and on the other side of the walls in the next room.

Massage increases and balances the circulation of all the fluids in the body. This includes blood, lymph, cerebral spinal fluid, interstitial fluids, cellular fluid, saliva, urine, synovial fluid, the fluid in the eyeballs and even the oily wetness on your dog's nose - that is a lot of fluids.

Why? Dogs do not perspire through their skin - largest organ of the body. They have a different system of temperature control than we humans. The closest they come to perspiration is absorbing off heat through the evaporation of their saliva and release of moisture from between the pads of their paws. Massage may be an essential part of your dog's health regimen.

As with humans, there are some cautions and contraindications to keep in mind with animal massage. If an animal is in shock, they may experience low blood pressure, and massage might lower it further thus putting the animal at further risk. Also, fever may be a sign of infection and should be addressed by a vet before massage is administered.

If an animal has cancer, a vet should clear them for massage. Open wounds, ringworm and other skin conditions are also contraindicated for massage therapy. Torn muscles, tendons and ligaments or acute diseases such as influenza or coughs also contraindicate massage.


Utilizing Self-Awarenes
So, an essential part of the role of a pet massage practitioner is self-awareness of body mechanics and body language. Any inadvertent movement, such as holding one's breath or squaring one's shoulders, to the dog can quickly shift the dynamics of a session.

The addition of aromas, or rather the lack of the introduction of aromas, is a big component of a session. Dogs monitor the practitioner's mood, thoughts, presence and level of support by tracking minute fragrance shifts in practitioner perspiration. We do not encourage the use of fragrant oils. Anything that masks this information complicates and diminishes, rather than enhances, a dog's pet massage experience. Pet massage accesses and supports the fluid energy within the tissues. In the process, it initiates subtle changes to the body.

It supports the animals' intuitive self-healing abilities. Pet massage combines the use of knowledgeable, compassionate touch, fascia releases, presence and understanding to effect inner body-language communication and resolution.

Humans experience the benefits of massage from registered massage therapists for soft tissue strains, anxiety, digestive disorders, myofascial pain and sports injuries, just to name a few, and now dogs can experience similar benefits from certified canine massage practitioners.

Whether you have a show dog, an elderly dog, an athlete or simply a beloved canine companion, massage can offer relief or relaxation for man's and woman's! best friend. And as more people understand the benefits that massage can provide for their dogs, the more dogs will experience longer, happier, healthier lives!

1000 CUTE PUPPIES! :o)

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