How to Massage a Dog's Neck

Medium
10 - 15 Minutes
1 Day

Introduction

Sam is an older Golden Retriever who seems to have a stiff, sore neck. His owner has noticed that instead of turning his head to look at things, he is turning his entire body to orient himself, avoiding movement of his neck. After ruling out any serious injury with a veterinarian, Sam’s owner decides to try massage to relieve some of her dog’s discomfort. After all, if it works for her, she figures it will help Sam! 

A dog can strain or injure their neck a variety of ways. Day to day strain holding the head up or a sudden movement can lead to fatigue and strain in your dog's neck muscles. Injury can also result from a fall or from constant pulling on a collar. Dogs that are tied up often unwittingly run to the end of their restraint. and are then jerked back by the neck, causing injury. If a serious neck injury is suspected, you should seek veterinary advice. Once a severe injury is ruled out, or if regular wear and tear is the culprit, your dog can benefit from a massage to relax strained or spasming neck muscles, and increase circulation to the area.

Dog's Perspective

Although most dogs like to be massaged, if your dog's neck is causing him discomfort he may not appreciate you pressing and pulling sore tissue on his neck. You will need to be gentle, and introduce massage techniques slowly. Incorporate lots of petting and maybe some treats! Hold your dog’s head by cupping his muzzle and stretching the neck out by wrapping your arm under his head to holding him securely while working on his neck.

Caution & Considerations

  • If your dog shows signs of having an injury in the neck, get veterinary advice as neck injuries can be serious.
  • Avoid the very front of the neck, where the windpipe and esophagus are located. Do not apply pressure on these sensitive structures.
  • Remove your dog's collar if possible before massaging neck, or if you require the collar to control your dog, loosen it so you can work under the collar.
  • Do not lift a large dog onto an elevated surface without assistance, or if you cannot safely control the lift. Work on the floor instead.
  • Do not force massage or apply pressure where your dog tries to avoid it. Let your dog guide you as to how much pressure is comfortable.

Conclusion

Dogs’ get neck strain and injury just like we do. An active dog can injure themselves playing, working, or running. Dogs may get sore muscles as they age or dogs can injure their necks from collars. A dog that constantly pulls on his collar while on walks or while tied is especially subject to a neck injury. If you suspect a neck injury, seek veterinary advice to rule out serious conditions before treating with massage at home. Once cleared for massage, hold your dog securely and start palpating your dog's neck to find strained and sore muscles and tissues. You can press, pull, and release, or use the increase pressure technique to help tissues relax and provide more blood flow to the area. Be careful working around the neck so that you do not cause injury to delicate structures like the windpipe or vertebra on the neck.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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