We all know how great a massage can be good for the mind, body and soul. But did you know, giving your pooch a dog massage, can provide them with the same goodness? Pair that with a belly rub and your dog will be in heaven. Not only that but giving a dog massage lowers blood pressure and reduces stress for both the giver and receiver!
Our Explorer Luke gives his Greyhound Lucy a dog massage regularly – so he’s sharing his top tips on how to give your pooch a top dog massage. For more of Luke and Lucy’s adventures, find them on Instagram: @lucyinvestigates.
Please note, we are not vets and this is not professional advice. Information is from personal research and experience. If your dog has any health concerns please consult your vet for advice.
My partner and I often massage our Greyhound Lucy. We usually use paw butter on her once a week and lotion to help soothe her skin as she’s prone to dandruff. She loves a belly rub too.
We wanted to share our top tips so you can start massaging your dog! Trust me, your dog will love it.
Why Massage Your Dog?
Did you know your dog has around 700 muscles that pull on the 320 bones to produce movement? It’s the tissue that is most likely to accrue injuries, stress and overcompensate for orthopaedic issues. Massage is the most effective therapy to rehabilitate and recondition your dog’s muscles for movement, mobility and longevity.
If that wasn’t enough reason to give it a go, here’s a couple more:
Stress and anxiety reduction
Dogs can easily get stressed or anxious. It could be a loud noise, a thunderstorm, or the glimpse of a cat. Regardless of the reason, a massage can ease your dog’s tension and relax him into comfort so he forgets about his worries.
If your dog has hurt herself, then a massage might be just what the vet ordered. Massaging can help to rehabilitate, reduce pain and swelling, heal strains and sprains faster, and keep scar tissue to a minimum. Of course, you should let your vet advise you on how to do this properly and safely first! Massage also aids in the circulation of the body, which assists the joints and muscles [to] flush toxins from the tissues.
Improves body functions
A massage can increase your dog’s circulation, decrease blood pressure, improve lymphatic fluid movement, strengthen his immune system, aid digestion, stimulate the kidneys and liver, and encourage deeper breathing.
Promotes overall well-being
When humans get a massage, they feel refreshed, balanced, and revitalized. Your dog will feel the same way after you give her a good rub down.
Strengthens your bond and relationship
A massage may be a new concept for your dog, but once he realizes how great it feels and that you’re the one making him feel great, your bond and relationship will be that much deeper.
How To Massage Your Dog
To massage your dog, use a flat palm, and lightly rub, focussing on all layers of the body including the hair, skin, fat, muscle and bone. The more you do this, the more you get to learn what your dog prefers. Like humans, some prefer a little more pressure while other’s prefer it to be soft and gentle.
So what parts of the body should you focus on?
Pay close attention to your dog’s ears by rubbing them slowly. The ears are most closely associated with stress and anxiety levels. By focussing on this area, you can help to combat this as well as overall fatigue.
Our dogs love being petted on the head, but you can go beyond a simple scratch by using the flat part of your palm. This can have incredible benefits for their nervous system as it’s directly correlated to the ear. It can also help their bladder, and gallbladder, so a good place to focus on if they have a dicky belly.
Massaging the back of your dog is great for combatting anxiety, restlessness reactivity or hyperactivity. As mentioned below, lightly pet with a flat palm from head to tail focussing on the spine.
Massaging the back can help with improved stomach health, increase skin elasticity, and comfort with the human touch.
Belly rubs are well known for being the dogs favourite area for a spot of fuss, so my massaging here you’re really upping the level. Working the belly with the palm of your hand will help your dog’s stomach muscles to relax.
Does your dog suffer from digestive issues? Massaging here will cut down on gas and bloating.
If there’s one part of the body your dog relies on the most, it’s their legs, to run, play, and function overall. Massage the front and hind legs to warm them up before any physical activity. In a similar way to the human warmup – a pre-exercise massage will help to prevent any injuries.
Pay attention to the pelvic area just above the hind legs to benefit “the rest and relaxation responses of the body (for example, sleep, digestion, and tissue repair).”
Don’t forget the crease behind your dog’s elbow. Massaging this spot will help them to cope with infections and allergies.
This important part of the body is directly connected to your dog’s circulatory system. Giving your pooch a gentle massage in this area can help their overall heart health and have a positive influence on blood pressure.
My Lucy loves having her paws massaged. It can be one of the most sensitive areas because they’re connected to so many different parts of the body so be gentle.
Massaging your dog’s paws has so many health benefits. This area is also is great for building trust between each other.
Massage to Soothe and Calm Them Down
Massage can help to relieve tensions when your dog is stressed with anxiety. This massage is used during dog yoga to help soothe your dog and can help if they are nervous, fearful or hyperactive. Again using a flat palm, rest your hand on top of your dog’s head or neck. Make long, sweeping passes along the spine and down the tail. Repeat this several times slowly.
Looking for some tips on helping your dog with mental health? Click here to visit our blog on mental health and dogs.
Give it a try!
Will you be giving these massage techniques a try? Let us know in the comments below or tag us and @dogfuriendly in your pampering pics!