Did you know that when you pet and stroke your dog you are in fact potentially providing your pooch with significant therapeutic benefits? That’s right; when stroking your dog you are in effect performing the basic techniques of canine massage.

So, what exactly is canine massage and how does it help our four legged friends?

Canine massage employs many of the same techniques as those used in human massage, and provides many of the same benefits. Not only can canine massage be soothing and calming for your dog, but it also stimulates the dog’s natural healing ability, and this is why it is often employed in a remedial capacity for post operative and remedial conditions.

What is great about canine massage is that it is a non invasive treatment which can improve your dog’s mobility and gait, influence recovery from injury, enhance rehabilitation and soothe the pain associated with ageing.

Massage works on a cellular level, which means that massage increases cell activity which in turn promotes healing. Some massage techniques, when employed, assist in breaking up inflammatory products.

This is why canine massage therapy works well not only as a regular maintenance routine for your dog, but it can also be a fantastic natural therapy for the older dog because it helps to relieve conditions such as osteoarthritis.

Likewise massage is also used on working and sporting dogs, both pre and post event. Just as human massage and physiotherapy is beneficial for human athletes, dogs benefit in the same way. We would not exercise ourselves without an adequate warm up or warm down and the same principles apply for our canine companions. In fact, canine massage can enhance your dog’s sporting performance.

For less exuberant pets, canine massage provides an excellent opportunity to bond with your dog, and can also be a great way of locating any early warning signs, such as a change in the way your dog feels or smells which can be an early indicator of disease in your dog. Another benefit of handling your dog is that you will be able to detect any unwanted lumps or bumps at an early stage.

There is, of course, more to canine massage therapy than just stroking your pet, and a qualified professionally trained therapist will know what technique to apply and when. It is also important to note that there may be a reason why massage might not be suitable for your dog. This is known as a contraindication. A contraindication is a condition which makes a particular treatment inadvisable. For example, if your dog had an unhealed or open wound, massage would be inappropriate. A trained massage therapist will always ask pertinent questions about you dog’s history before they work on your dog.

However, there is no problem with providing basic massage therapy to your dog yourself and there are many books and online resources available to show you how.

Happy tummy rubs!

Note. You should always seek veterinary advice if you are concerned about your dog’s health.