In simple terms, massage is the rubbing and kneading of muscles and soft tissues to relieve tension and pain. It is a well known treatment for people and it’s no surprise to learn that your dog benefits from it too.
There are two main techniques you can use to massage your dog, both of which have French names.
- The first technique is known as effleurage. This is a long light gliding stroke along the length of a muscle. It encourages blood flow in the area, and helps your dog to relax. It also gives you the opportunity to feel for any areas of muscle tightness that will need more attention.
- The second technique is called petrissage. This is the firm kneading and rolling that is more typical of a relaxing massage. It has the same effect on your dog’s muscles as it does on yours – improved blood flow and reduced muscle stiffness.
- Another method of massage that is less commonly used in dogs is tapotement, where you use the sides of your hands or even your cupped hands to tap lightly on his body. This technique is also known as percussion.
What Does Massage Do?
Research has shown that like us, dogs respond to touch in a positive way. Stroking and massaging your own dog will reduce stress, decrease pain and increase flexibility. It increases dopamine and serotonin levels in his brain which makes him feel relaxed and help him sleep.
Massage benefits all dogs, but it is particularly good for elderly animals with arthritis.
When NOT to Massage
There are some circumstances in which you should definitely not massage your dog. If there is an area of active inflammation or even a fracture in a bone, massage will be painful and make his condition worse.
Dogs with bleeding problems should also not be massaged because the firm pressure on his muscles can cause further hemorrhage.
Caring for Elderly Dogs
Massage is a useful way of improving your canine senior citizen’s well being. It will make him physically more comfortable and mentally more relaxed. However it’s not the only thing you can do to care for him.
Other ways you can improve your dog’s quality of life are:
- Provide a soft warm bed that keeps him off the hard floor. Make sure it is low enough for him to easily get in and out.
- Keep his weight in check. His joints are more likely to be sore if they have to carry around a few extra pounds.
- Give him Joint Resolution on a regular basis. It contains collagen, hyaluronic acid and chondroitin to improve joint health and mobility. A carefully selected blend of herbs reduce pain and inflammation, so he’ll feel better very quickly.
Apart from the obvious physical and emotional benefits of massage, don’t discount the positive effects on your relationship. What dog wouldn’t love some quality time with his much loved owner, while he is stroked firmly and his tired body rejuvenated with a massage. That is the absolute best part about spending an hour or so giving your dog a loving massage.