Dog Massage

By Jill Firth PG Dip(AM) CertEd


Blood is a very important part of homeostasis, but unless we have a disease of the blood we never think about it.  We just take it for granted and have no idea of how much work it does for us.

Blood performs the following functions:

  1. Transports oxygen from the lungs to the cells and takes carbon dioxide out of the body
  2. Takes nutrients from the digestive system and delivers them to cells
  3. Removes waste from the cells and takes it to the kidneys, lungs and sweat glands
  4. Moves hormones from endocrine glands to cells and takes enzymes to various cells
  5. Regulates pH and protects against toxins and microbes with special combat cells

A basic understanding of blood functions is important in Massage.  Canine Massage therapy opens blood vessels and increases circulation, pushing out waste and toxins that can lead to illness.  It increases blood supply and increases the number of red blood cells therefore enhancing the delivery of oxygen to all the tissues of the body.  Massage also keeps venous blood moving, so waste products are recycled faster and do not build up in the tissues.


Muscles that are tight or in a contracted state put pressure on surrounding tissues.  This causes a decrease in blood circulation, restricted movement, nerve irritation and resultant pain.  If not relieved and loosened this tightness can cause more problems and will continue to worsen.

Massage therapy is one of the ways to free up tight muscle tissue and enhance blood circulation.  It also has many more benefits such as:

  1. Relaxes muscle spasm
  2. Improves muscle tone
  3. Reduces congestion within blood and lymph vessels
  4. Stimulates or relaxes the nervous system
  5. Increases excretion of fluids
  6. Increases the exchange of substances between cells
  7. Encourages tissue repair
  8. Stretches connective tissue
  9. Helps maintain flexibility
  10. Reduces inflammation of tissue in joints as well as enhances nutritional aspects
  11. Prevents the formation of adhesions and fibrous bands in muscles, tendons and ligaments
  12. Increases intestinal movement
  13. Stimulates glands
  14. Helps clean pores

When not to Massage your dog

Massage is not appropriate for a dog with:

  1. An elevated temperature
  2. Heatstroke
  3. A fresh injury
  4. Nausea
  5. Shock
  6. Rheumatiod arthritis
  7. Fractures

Consult the Vet with other conditions such as:

  1. Cancer
  2. Disc problems
  3. Impaired immune system

Does my Dog need a Massage?

If your dog is showing signs of strain after X-rays and tests show nothing, massage is a great help for locating and relieving soreness.  Dogs recovering from lameness and dogs with reduced performance may also benefit from massage as the muscles and joints are return to full flexibility.  Some other conditions, which may respond to massage, are:

  1. Movement
  2. Topline
  3. Lameness
  4. Stiffness
  5. Relaxation & sleeping
  6. Showing well
  7. More reach required
  8. Inflammation of soft tissues
  9. Keeping older dogs active
  10. Jumping
  11. Rehabilitation after injury

REMEMBER  – Always consult your vet if massaging your dog because of illness, post-operatively or lameness.

It is illegal to perform massage therapy on anyone else’s dog without a Veterinary referral.

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