The Top 3 Benefits of Dog Massage

| Nell Ostermeier DVM, CVA, FAAVA

Did you know that massage has health benefits for dogs? It can prevent muscle tension & soreness, as well as stop those conditions from escalating to arthritis.


Is doggy massage really “a thing?" You bet. And, while it is a fun and enjoyable experience for our furry friends, massage can also have serious health benefits when incorporated into your dog’s wellness plan. Massage is especially helpful for working dogs, dog athletes, and senior dogs because it helps to prevent muscle tension and soreness from escalating to pain and arthritis. However, dogs only benefit if they are receptive to being massaged.

Here are 3 of the benefits of massage for receptive pups:

1. Relaxation

One of the most well-known and pleasant benefits of massage is relaxation, both physical and mental. Tight or constricted muscles are not able to move as freely and cannot receive neurologic signals and blood circulation as readily. Massage can release the tension that builds up in your dog’s muscles and connective tissues, allowing them to relax and function more effectively.

In addition to the physical relaxation, your dog will likely experience a higher level of mental relaxation and a general feeling of improved well-being. Massage can trigger the release of the body’s own “feel good” chemicals, such as serotonin, and reduce circulating blood cortisol that increases with stress and anxiety.

2. Pain Relief

The ability to relieve pain and soreness is a top benefit of massage and the main reason most people seek massage as part of their dog’s healthcare plan. Massage not only relieves muscle and connective tissue tension, it also incites the release of endorphins (the body’s natural pain killers) with the result of generalized pain relief for your furry friend.

If your dog is a working dog or athlete, they will build up tension and soreness just like their human counterparts. While being sore is part of being highly active, massage helps to prevent that soreness from escalating into pain or becoming a chronic condition. If a dog develops a chronic area of pain or soreness, it causes them to shift weight in order to compensate. Now, the dog has another area of muscle tension, and the cycle continues.

Massage is also especially helpful in reducing the soreness that accompanies arthritis in our senior pets, allowing for improved comfort, mobility, and circulation.

3. Improved Circulation

Massage facilitates blood flow and relieves the constriction of muscles and connective tissues that can impede blood circulation. To function and feel their best, our dogs need to have good circulation through the musculoskeletal system.

Blood brings nutrients to our dogs’ muscles and takes away toxins that build up from everyday activity. This helps to keep the muscles strong, the joints healthy, and the body comfortable. All of these qualities help to prevent exercise induced soreness and age-related osteoarthritis, resulting in a healthier, happier life for our canine friends.

Massage is a “feel good” way to contribute to your dog’s mental and physical well-being. If you’d like to incorporate massage into your dog’s overall healthcare plan, you can learn how to do it yourself or reach out to a local certified canine massage therapist. If you have questions about where to find one, which type of massage is best for your dog, or whether massage is right for your furry friend, you should speak with your primary care veterinarian, and they can point you in the right direction.

Did you know that AKC Pet Insurance (underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company) offers policies that can cover dog massage if it is prescribed by a veterinarian to treat a specific eligible condition? Click here to create a custom policy and get a quote today.

Nell Ostermeier DVM, CVA, FAAVA

Nell Ostermeier is an Integrative Veterinarian, Motivator, Lecturer, and Consultant.


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