Canine Massage Therapy – Whole Dog Journal

As a newly board-certified canine therapeutic massage practitioner, I wish to encourage everybody who is devoted to their canine to think about including skilled therapeutic massage to their canine’ healthcare plan. Who wants this? I’d counsel each canine. For some canine, it’s important; for the remaining, it is going to improve their lives, at a minimal. How so?

  •  Let’s begin with younger, wholesome canine like my Peter. Practicing therapeutic massage on him, beginning only a few months after my husband and I adopted him, clearly enhanced our bond. I began slowly and located that he loved each stroke and was glad to have me (and my classmates) contact him all over the place. Also, upkeep therapeutic massage can help in defending the our bodies of younger, athletic canine from damage and construct resiliency.
  • For newly adopted canine, significantly those that have had a tough begin in life, mild therapeutic massage will assist chill out your canine and will let you contact him when you could for different causes. Just begin gently and in areas the place the standard canine has fewer worries (e.g., shoulders, base of neck). This has helped me enormously with trimming Peter’s nails.
  •  Several of my fellow college students spent their internships in shelters. They reported in phrases and video how highly effective therapeutic massage is at serving to burdened canine grow to be extra relaxed and trusting of people.
  •  For senior canine, therapeutic massage will assist to establish areas of soreness and produce some aid. Massage additionally appears to assist older canine affected by cognitive dysfunction; perhaps it’s simply from having their circulation improved and their neural circuits stimulated by novel contact! 
  •  For canine who’ve had accidents, therapeutic massage – with the specific course and approval of their veterinarians – can assist cut back the formation of scar tissue, soften and lengthen tissue to help therapeutic, and improve flexibility. It also can assist loosen muscle mass that could be compensating, so extra damage doesn’t outcome. Massage can cut back tightness in areas the place canine have restrictions. Gentle, directed, agency bodywork can stimulate the discharge of endorphins, with a robust pain-relieving impact.
  •  Dogs with respiratory circumstances might profit from therapeutic massage by stress-free and strengthening the rib muscle mass that assist lung operate. 

Does this all sound acquainted? If you could have been handled with therapeutic massage, you might acknowledge many of those advantages.


While nearly anybody can be taught to make use of some fundamental therapeutic massage strokes to chill out their canine, a well-educated practitioner can use extra specialised therapeutic massage strategies to successfully tackle the actual points that have an effect on your canine. 

Massage is likely one of the modalities that’s usually thought-about as a “can’t hurt” apply, however it can be contraindicated. Dogs with sure cancers (e.g., mast cell most cancers and osteosarcoma) ought to not be massaged, and canine with spinal accidents require particular consideration. Dogs who’re sick with fever, suffered a current trauma, or “just aren’t right” ought to see a veterinarian earlier than therapeutic massage. 

Be conscious that there isn’t a consistency within the U.S. concerning the regulation of animal therapeutic massage. The web site of the International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork (IAAMB) lists the legal guidelines pertaining to animal therapeutic massage in every state:

If you might be in search of a potential therapeutic massage therapist on your canine, I like to recommend in search of credentialed professionals. I’m biased, as a result of I just lately was licensed by the National Board Certification of Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM), which requires a minimal of 50 hours learning anatomy and physiology, 50 hours of supervised hands-on work, and 100 hours of examine in different areas (together with enterprise ethics, animal conduct, and biosecurity). NBCAAM opinions the training and expertise of candidates to make sure adequacy after which administers a board examination. I consider this kind of rigorous credentialing course of is a should.

Some veterinary places of work and veterinary rehabilitation facilities make use of technicians who’re educated in therapeutic massage. Even so, I’d examine the practitioner’s credentials. Was their coaching program a minimum of 200 hours, and did it embrace anatomy and hands-on coaching? There are any variety of one-week and video instructional packages on the market, which aren’t sufficient (in my view) to qualify somebody to work on my canine! If you are feeling the identical, examine these credentials!

If you could have any uncertainty in regards to the practitioner’s {qualifications}, ask for references – and examine them! Also, in case your canine has a particular concern that must be addressed, ask the practitioner if she has had expertise addressing that concern.


Before the therapeutic massage practitioner ever touches your canine, she ought to have you ever full an consumption kind about your canine. It ought to have room to incorporate details about any bodily and behavioral points your canine has. The practitioner ought to then spend time reviewing this info with you. If there’s an lively sickness or bodily drawback, she ought to seek the advice of along with your veterinarian earlier than working in your canine. 

You ought to completely be permitted to be current when the practitioner works in your canine; in lots of instances, the practitioner will want this, as your canine could also be extra relaxed with you within the room. Massage might happen in your house or within the practitioner’s workplace, which must be clear and soothing. 

The practitioner might make use of a canine appeasing pheromone just like the Adaptil (DAP) plug-in; there could also be calming music corresponding to “Through a Dog’s Ear” taking part in, and there must be a freshly coated smooth cushion on your canine. I want to work on the ground as a result of I feel it’s safer and extra snug for many canine. But for small canine, some practitioners might go for a desk. Massage could make canine thirsty, so contemporary water must be out there. 

Some canine might get pleasure from chomping on a Kong or different chew whereas getting massaged, and the practitioner would possibly supply your canine an occasional deal with for staying calm and relaxed. If your canine tends to protect his chews or treats, let the practitioner know so she does not supply him one thing to chew. 

If your canine is shy or anxious with strangers, the primary session might imply simply getting used to the practitioner and restricted touching. It might take a number of periods till the canine is keen to put nonetheless and permit the complete extent of the work. 

The practitioner must be very aware of your canine’s physique language and by no means insist on engaged on an space that the canine has expressed is a no-go. Massage shouldn’t be compelled – canine must be allowed to stand up and transfer and are available again as their selection. Often, canine who are usually not snug with being touched in sure areas might, over time, permit therapeutic massage in these locations. 

The size of the session will rely to some extent in your canine’s response. If the canine is sort of accepting, this can permit the bodyworker to maneuver from the warming-up strokes (corresponding to effleurage and compression) to deeper strategies (corresponding to petrissage and direct strain), and to extra areas of the physique. 

The practitioner might use any of a wide range of strategies on your canine’s therapeutic massage. Swedish therapeutic massage is superb for warming up the canine’s tissue for deeper strokes and dealing with most minor muscle issues. Swedish strokes mix compression with gliding, lifting tissue, squeezing, or vibration, relying on the impact desired. 

Trigger-point remedy softens up “knots” within the muscle, usually utilizing direct strain. Myofascial launch makes use of mild strain to have an effect on change within the tissue that surrounds muscle. Passive range-of-motion workout routines might be very efficient to reinforce joint flexibility and vary. 

Some practitioners increase therapeutic massage with different modalities, corresponding to Tui Na (Chinese therapeutic massage), kinesiology taping, and acupressure. 

Toward the top of the session, the practitioner can also make use of some passage range-of-motion workout routines. The practitioner will assist a joint on either side and transfer the limb via its snug vary of movement and inside its correct airplane, with out forcing. In addition, the practitioner might present you methods to encourage your canine to stretch utilizing treats. These might embrace neck stretches the place the canine follows the deal with backward and forward, towards both shoulder, or encouraging a bow. 

At the top of the session, the practitioner ought to give you her findings, together with mentioning any drawback areas, growths, or lumps that must be talked about to your canine’s veterinarian. She can also make solutions about future periods.

I really like massaging my canine in addition to different individuals’s canine. I stroll away from each session feeling positively uplifted and extra linked to my canine pals. The glad feedback I obtain from the canine house owners are icing on the cake. 

Massage has the ability to rework your canine’s life and even your individual. I like to recommend that you just be taught extra about therapeutic massage and its advantages and think about a session on your canine. 


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