When was the last time you got a massage? Whether it was done by a professional in a spa, or it was just a shoulder rub from your partner after a long day, you know that massages have some serious healing benefits. They’re relaxing and therapeutic for your mind, body, and soul. But when was the last time your dog got a massage? You want the best for your fur baby, and as it turns out, she benefits from massages just as much as you do. A dog massage looks a little different than a human one, of course — and not just because massage oils don’t rub into fur very well. Keep reading to learn about the pros of dog massage, and how to do it for Fluffy so you can give her the perfect spaw day.
The Benefits of Dog Massage
The reason you enjoy massages is probably the same reason your dog will, too: They make you feel good. Pet site Top Dog Health lists some of the specific benefits of giving your dog a massage below.
Gently rubbing your dog’s muscles and joints releases tension, stiffness, and soreness, which can happen after a lot of exercise. Massage also stimulates endorphin release in your dog’s brain. Endorphins, which are associated with the brain’s reward center, naturally quell pain.
The pressure created by massaging techniques helps blood, and another important fluid, lymph, move throughout your dog’s body. Good circulation is important for health — it keeps your dogs’ coat and skin healthy, and it helps them keep dangerous conditions like edema and hypertension at bay.
Massages help humans’ bodies and minds relax — the same can be said for dogs. Your dog likely finds comfort in your presence and cuddles already. Massages give your dog an opportunity to connect with you, and the gentle motions help them feel relaxed and reassured.
How To Massage Your Dog
With all the work dogs do in keeping us happy all the time, they deserve some time to relax. Yes, you probably already pamper them (because they deserve it!), but there’s nothing like going the extra mile to give your dog the day they deserve. Below, pet health site ZamiPet shares a step-by-step guide to giving the best dog massage Fido’s ever had.
Before You Start
Make sure your dog is already relaxed and calm. An excited dog will not want to lay down for a massage, and the whole idea is to make her feel good. She may be more receptive after a walk, since her muscles are warmed up. Avoid putting her on a raised table if she’s likely to jump off and hurt herself. (Keep in mind that these are just general tips — if your dog has certain health conditions that prohibit massage, or exhibits pain or anxiety at any point during the massage, stop immediately. And always consult your veterinarian before pursuing any kind of treatment plan for your dog.)
8 Steps to Canine Bliss
- Step 1: Relaxation. Gently pet your dog’s back on either side of their spine, using flat hands, for 10-15 seconds. Go from their neck to the base of their tail, repeating for 2-3 minutes.
- Step 2: Head. Gently slide your flat hand and fingers from her nose, to between her eyes, to the top of her head in the direction of her fur for one minute.
- Step 3: Neck. On the back of your dog’s neck, at the base of her skull, make light, clockwise circles with your fingers for 1-2 minutes.
- Step 4: Shoulders. Have your dog lay down on her side (and have her remain in this position for the rest of the massage). Use slow, circular motions to massage her shoulder blade for one minute. Repeat on the other side.
- Step 5: Paws. Hold a front paw in one hand. Use your thumb and forefinger to gently rub along the bones in her paw and each “finger” for one minute. Repeat on the other front paw.
- Step 6: Ribs. Find the gaps in her ribs with your fingers and gently rub the muscles up and down for one minute. Repeat on the other side.
- Step 7: Hips and Hind Legs. Gently and slowly straighten and bend her back leg to find her hip joint. Once you’ve identified it, gently rub the area in a circular motion for one minute. Repeat on the other side.
- Step 8: Final Relaxation. Speak calmly and reassuringly to your dog as you gently stroke down her back, to her hip and back foot, then up to their shoulder and front paw.
Hopefully, Fido feels chilled out and calm. While you’re thinking about it, go ahead and schedule a massage for yourself, too — you deserve it.