We help HEALTHY SENIOR DOGS stay active, without pain, so that they can have more days with their owners to do the things they love!

Canine Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is a hands-on technique that works on the soft tissues (muscles, fascia, tendons) of your dogs body. Massage therapy has an effect on the muscular, nervous and circulatory systems. Massage therapy can help a dog relax during a treatment session, allowing for other techniques to be used (such as manual therapy and laser).

Massage therapy helps to improve circulation by stimulating blood flow. It can also help by relaxing and soothing sore muscles. After and injury, it can help by driving circulation to the muscles to stimulate healing while separating the muscle fibers so that they can work optimally.

Dog having a massage
Dog getting Massage

Conditions that Dog Massage Therapy can Help

Canine massage therapy can help all sorts of conditions. Many joint conditions, such as osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia, lead to overuse of certain muscle causing pain and stiffness. Massage therapy can help loosen and relax these tight muscles to relieve pain and promote better use of muscles.

Many younger dogs will experience muscle strains as a result of being very active and often hard on their bodies. Massage therapy can also be very beneficial in helping to relieve pain and restore function in these cases. Examples of commonly strained muscles in dogs are iliopsoas, quads, triceps and latissimus dorsi.

Massage therapy is also very beneficial after surgery. It can help to reduce swelling by moving fluid out of the area as well as relax painful areas.

Do all dogs like massage therapy?

No. Every dog is different and some may not be comfortable to lie still for a massage therapy treatment. At Pawsitively Fit, we are trained in canine body language and will watch our canine clients for signs of anxiety or unease.

Sometimes, with repeat appointments, certain dogs start to feel more comfortable with their therapist and will relax and allow more hands-on treatment. We never force or hold a dog down. It is important for a therapy session to be a relaxed one for a dog whether they are receiving massage or any other treatment.

When Shouldn’t a Dog Have a Massage

There are always times when things shouldn’t be done, and massage therapy is no different! Here are some instances in which a dog shouldn’t receive a massage or areas that should be avoided:

  • a dog that doesn’t want to be massaged and is trying to get away from it
  • severe, acute pain
  • over the site of a recent injection (e.g. vaccine or medication)
  • directly over a tumor
  • over a blood clot or area of poor circulation
  • over an area where a dog has poor or no sensation
Mia after surgery

Part of a Complete Rehabilitation Plan

Maggie doing a push-up to work her front leg strength

At Pawsitively Fit, we use massage therapy as part of an overall treatment plan. Once your dog has been assessed, and their specific needs are determined, the canine rehab therapist will determine if massage therapy would be appropriate. We find that massage therapy is best used along side other treatments such as education, specific exercises and laser therapy.

For example, if your dog had tightness and pain through their quadriceps muscle (i.e. the muscle in the front of their thigh), the likely weren’t using that leg very well, causing the muscle to weaken. Specific exercises can help to re-strengthen the muscle and also stretch the muscle so that reinjury is less likely to occur. Often in this type of example, other compensatory issues will be found in the back as the dog could have been moving with a curved spine to take load of a sore leg. Other manual therapies would be beneficial in this case.

How Often Should my Dog Receive Massage Therapy

Once again, this depends on the specific needs of your dog and also how your dog responds to a treatment. If massage therapy was used successfully, with good results, then it is more likely massage therapy will be used again. The frequency of treatment will be discussed with you by your therapist.

Teaching the Owner to do Massage at Home

At Pawsitively Fit, we like to empower owners as much as possible to care for their dogs like we would between appointments. Part of this approach is teaching owners basic massage techniques that they can use on their dog to help their dog feel better.

How is Massage Different than Myofascial Release

Myofascial release is quite different than massage. Massage is directed at soft tissues like muscles, ligaments and tendons. It can be painful if working deep into muscle tissues. Myofascial release, however, works on the fascia. Fascia is the connective tissue of the body. It is three dimensional and is present throughout the entire body. The fascia covers all muscles, blood vessels and organs. It even covers the brain!

Fascia is injured either when the stress placed on it are higher than it can withstand or it is overused. Doesn’t this sound like a muscle strain – the dog kept going until the were injured or they did a movement that was more than their body could handle. When the fascia is injured it becomes tight and restricted, preventing proper flexibility and movement of muscles, tendons and ligaments, often leading to pain.

Myofascial release is often much gentler than massage and can allow many dogs to relax that wouldn’t have for massage. Often times, myofascial release can be a more effective and accepted technique for our canine clients.

Here’s a little more information on myofascial release from an old blog post.

Dog receiving myofascial release
Dog receiving myofascial relase

Contact us

Do you think your dog would benefit from massage therapy as part of a complete canine rehab program? Fill out this short form by clicking the button below and we will get in touch with you to discuss your dog’s specific needs.

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