“How will I know massage is working for my dog?”
When you get a massage, do you feel relaxed? Do you notice some pain is gone and that you can move your neck or shoulder much easier? Animals are very similar to humans. When muscles are worked on, blood/lymphatic circulation is improved, which brings many benefits such as improved metabolism, a better range in motion, pain relief, relaxation, etc. Experienced dog owners and trainers often notice that dogs’ mobility improves after a massage. Although dogs can’t tell you, you can look for signs like: panting or being thirsty after a session (improved metabolism – similar to an exercise), or laying down looking tired (relaxed).
“Can you massage a sick dog in pain?”
We can determine it case by case. Areas of heat and/or swelling should never be massaged. However, a collateral action can be taken to reduce swelling and relieve any associated pain which we call “de-swelling”. Please also note:
- Massage cannot be given to a dog when there is evidence of a fever
- Massage cannot be given in nearly all forms of skin disease, except in the thickened condition of the skin left behind by chronic eczema
- Massage cannot be given in cases of apoplexy (a rupture of occlusion of a blood vessel in the brain) or tumors
“I’m not sure if my dog can stay still for the entire massage session.”
Normally, if your dog is naturally hyper by breed or very young, we recommend having him/her exercised prior to an appointment. Also, if your dog is having a massage for the first time, it is likely for him/her to be a bit skeptical, but it is very common and understandable. There is no need for him/her to stay still the entire time. Massage can be administered even in a stand-up position. Ideally, he/she will figure out eventually that massage makes him/her feel good and learn to relax and lay down when ready, rather than being forced. Each session will be easier and more relaxed as the dog gets accustomed to the touches and strokes.
“Can you just massage the area that my dog is having a trouble? He doesn’t need a full body massage.”
A session needs to be full body because massage can be most effective when ‘body balance’ can be restored. It may seem on the surface that the right hind leg is the only problem, however, his left hind leg and fore legs along with the surrounding areas are over-worked in order to compensate the right hind leg. Additionally, please note that massage is effective as a preventative and maintenance therapy as well as relieving the symptoms. Please don’t wait until there is a visual sign of something is wrong. Animals don’t talk. Rather, they tend to hide their pain instinctively. That is why it is important to provide regularly scheduled massages. It often leads to an early discovery of any diseases.
“Can you massage a pregnant dog?”
Definitely yes! Just as a pregnant woman can benefit from a massage, dogs can as well. However, a veterinary consultation is required for aromatherapy as some essential oils have hormonal activity.
“How often does my dog need a massage?”
Just like when humans get a massage, the dog’s muscles are softened and loosened, and the ranges of motions are restored/improved after a massage. However, the condition will not last for good just like for us. A study has shown that a massage session in a shorter interval is more effective than a longer interval regardless of the length of a session. Thus, a shorter session in every 1~3 weeks is more recommended than a longer session in every month or so. Regular maintenance is the key in massage and other alternative modalities. It may take longer to see a result, but it is a safe and drug-free option.
“What is Canine Massage Like in Action?”
Here is a session with Lily and I.