Why Massage?

Dogs, whether they are athletes or couch potatoes, have stresses in their lives.  Some of these come from activity (such as playing Frisbee, running an agility course, or simply playing with other dogs); some from inactivity (such as old age, or recovering from an injury or illness); some are due to outside “environmental” stresses, while others can be due to genetic factors, such as temperament or hip dysplasia.  At its most basic, massage is intended to help assuage muscle strains and imbalances that can adversely affect an individual’s quality of life.

Why Dog Massage?

A dog’s anatomy is similar to a human’s, and can suffer the same kind of imbalances as people.  Dogs however, are not generally as open as humans are about displaying physical discomfort or pain unless 1) the onset is sudden or 2) until the pain becomes extreme.   Canines are pack animals, and in the wild, the survival of the entire pack depends on each of the members performing their tasks appropriately.  Signs of weakness and/or illness cannot be tolerated, so individual animals will attempt to disguise such signs to try to insure personal survival. In addition, domestic dogs are generally quite eager to please their human companions, and will continue to do the activity that keeps us involved with them, no matter how much it hurts.  The agility dog will continue to jump, the herding dog will continue to herd, and it is up to their human companions to recognize the more subtle signs that show our canine friends need intervention.

What are the Benefits of Massage?

Massage is not just a luxury to make one relax and feel good, it has numerous, recuperative benefits for a large number of physical dysfunctions.  Here are just a few of the advantages:
  • Increase effective circulation, which in turn improves oxygenation, increasing nutrition to tissues without the lactic acid produced during voluntary muscle contraction

  • Helps remove metabolic waste

  • Stimulates and accelerates the lymphatic (immune) system

  • Improves pliability of connective tissues and helps against adhesions

  • Improves muscle tone

  • Interrupts holding patterns which may alleviate chronic conditions

  • Relaxes muscle spasms and helps relieve tension

  • Helps maintain flexibility and enhance range of motion

  • Can decrease pain by interrupting the pain-spasm-pain cycle

  • Can help compensate for lack of movement by easing the strain of inactivity on the heart and delaying muscle atrophy

  • Stimulates skin and coat

   Is Massage Ever Inappropriate?

Absolutely.  That is why a good massage provider will not only view your dog for signs of illnesses or conditions where massage is contraindicated, but will also ask about the dog’s medical history to help make the proper determination.  In some cases, the massage provider may ask to speak with your veterinarian in order to tailor a series of massage sessions to the specific needs of your canine companion.