Dogs get sore muscles just like we do. A massage can ease soreness by relaxing muscles and increasing blood flow to tired tissues or injured ligaments and tendons. But there are other reasons a massage can be beneficial for your canine friend. Massages reduce stress and anxiety and build a social bond between you and your pup. Massages can promote healing by increasing blood supply, which improves oxygenation to tissues, provides nutrients to that area of the body and carries away toxins. Massages also improve body functions like the movement of lymphatic fluids, stimulation of organs such as those used in digestion or to process waste and remove toxins, and improves respiration by encouraging deep breathing. There is some evidence that massaging your dog can even improve his immune system. Regular full body massage promotes overall well being, makes your dog feel good, and provides stimulation and energy. An added benefit is that a full body massage gives you a chance to look your dog over and reveal whether he is experiencing pain or issues in his body. A regular massage will get you familiar with how your dog's muscles, joints and deeper tissues work and feel, so you will recognize when something is wrong and be able to make adjustments or get medical advice sooner.
Most people like getting a massage, but will your dog? Yes, if done correctly. Most dogs will not appreciate a deep massage, like humans might enjoy, so don't be too aggressive or apply excessive pressure to deeper tissues. Use gentle motions to relax and stimulate blood flow. Pay attention to your dog, and take your cues from him, if he is uncooperative being touched somewhere, or in a certain way, you may need to adjust your technique. Not all dogs are the same, what one dog enjoys, another may not. Read your dog and let him guide you when giving him a full body massage.
The benefits of massage to your dog are many. Massage relaxes sore muscles, decreases pain, improves joint movement, decreases blood pressure, improves breathing, organ function, immune system functioning and it is a great way to spend relaxing time with your dog, building trust. Use gentle strokes, circular motions, kneading, or pressure and release, to massage your dog all over his body. Work from front to back, staring at neck or chest, working down his body and over his legs, and don't forget belly and tail. Listen to your dog so you know what feels comfortable for him. Do not force your dog to let you massage him anywhere or anyhow, look to him for feedback on what feels good and is benefiting him. Your dog will be relaxed and cooperative next time you go to handle him if he is comfortable with full body massages and you have gained his trust.