Bones & Joints

Doggie Massage Basics


One of the fastest growing fields in dog healthcare is animal massage. The controlled, soothing touch not only help give dogs comfort but can also help in alleviating problems by managing pain, strengthening the immune system, firming up the muscles, joints, and tendons, releasing cortisone which relieves swelling and inflammation, as well as producing endorphins. Aside from that, doggie massage also helps in increasing overall circulation, improving digestion, and even in removing toxins in a pet’s body. Best of all, you get a few precious moments of bonding time with your furbaby!

Dog Massage: Before You Begin

Since dogs have different needs and biological makeup than people do, it is crucial for you to be knowledgeable and well-trained in canine anatomy and physiology before beginning to work on a dog that’s been stressed or injured. Without sufficient knowledge and experience, it’s possible to make problems worse or cause further injury. If your dog is injured, consult a veterinarian or dog massage therapist before beginning a massage routine.

· Talk to your dog’s veterinarian before starting a massage program.

· Call a professional dog masseuse if working with a delicate pooch or one with restricted mobility because of injury, joint problem, or surgery.

· Don’t massage Fido if he has a fever, is in shock, or has a serious illness or injury which hasn’t yet been diagnosed.

· Don’t massage an area with a lump, infected or open wound, or some sort of skin infection.

· Always check with a vet before massaging a dog which has cancer.

· If Fido is in good health, choose a word or phrase to let your pooch know that it’s time for a rubdown. Your dog has to learn this so he’ll recognize the routine and settle down gladly for the session.

· Wait until after your pooch’s potty break, and at least about 15 minutes after his mealtime to begin a massage.

· Look for a quiet spot, and try playing some gentle, soothing music.

· Sit in a comfy position or stand at a hip-high table so you can breathe steadily and deeply.

· Pet your dog gently, speak to him softly, and then start the massage routine.

You’re now ready to begin! Up next, step-by-step instruction for massaging your dog:

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  1. StephanieRMontgomery

    Aug 22, 2017 at 7:27 am

    This post contains huge valuable information on our pets. This article can help by preventing risk. Truly it’s a nice job. Thank you for sharing with us. I massage my boy every night when we get in bed. I massage him until he starts snoring! He usually sleeps until I wake him up!
    This will certainly help all pet owners…

  2. Leslie

    May 12, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    So many people don’t realise that massage is an effective technique for lots of ailments that is pretty easy to learn and apply yourself without having to go to a special center or vet’s office. Obviously it would be beneficial for the owner and the dog to get some orientation and guidance first from someone who knows what they’re doing.. but then after really all you need is you, your dog, and practice! This article from Ortcanis mentions how massage can help to treat tired or damaged muscles in dogs with hip dysplasia.. I’ve only been doing it for a couple of weeks now on my dog so it’s probably too early to decide whether or not the effects it’s having are truly noticeable.. but based on my dog’s reaction I’m going to keep trying!:

  3. Linda

    May 7, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    Several years ago, we rescued a 4 year old Sheltie who had never been socialized. She was afraid of everything and everyone. She would regularly try to hide behind a piece of furniture or a potted plant. We put a leash on her while she was in the house and made sure she was at least in the same room as the rest of the family. Gradually, I started using the Tellington Touch method of massage on her as I lay beside her on the floor while she lay on a couch cushion. I would stroke and massage her and speak quietly to her. Sometimes we fell asleep with each other. Before long, she became my little shadow, and eventually learned to enjoy being around people and to become a joyful Sheltie the way God intended.

  4. Marian

    May 16, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    My 4 year old Chihuahua comes to me for his massages. I have trouble walking so it’s hard for me to take him on walks. So, he just looooooves his massages, especially around his neck. He will fall asleep in my lap usually. He’s so cute.

  5. Dr Les Ellam

    May 16, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    I’m also a qualified dog masseur and muscle therapist and spend a lot of summer going two shows and events trying to get the idea of dog massage into the local consciousness. It has to be the best job I have ever done in my life. Helping a dog who comes in stiff legged, sad and with their tail down but who leaves an hour later with their spring back, tail wagging and having smothered me in dog kisses is an absolute joy. We work with the owners so they learn what we are doing and hopefully take some ideas back as homework. Glad to see this article helping to spread the word.

  6. Tan

    May 16, 2014 at 9:45 am

    My 6 year old lab Raven is startingvto struggle with long walks being that he is a service dog and trained to help me in many ways his walks can be very long. He was having cod liver oil however recent reseaech has shown fish oil and cod liver oil are in fact very bad for dogs as they prevent the absorbtion of vit. E. So i have started giving him a gentle lavender oil massage at bed after a long day… he loves it and rolls to present his sore side when i pick up the bottle. The lavender helps him to settle to sleep (and me) and is fiving a lovelt shine to his slightly greying black fur. My little one dusty puppy looks at me all jealous at this now and so I rub any excess lavender into her afterwards. If i dont do his rub down at bed time after a long walk he is very stiff the next day. I just firmly stroke over his hip and leg as i would if i was just stroking him.

  7. Dorie

    Mar 11, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    I’m not a masseuse but that’s what I’ve been doing all along! Guess it just comes natural to me, I rub her the way I would want and where I know it would feel good. I must be doing alright cause she loves it!

  8. Dale Kwong

    Mar 11, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    I live on the 5th floor of a condo. On our last trip up of the day, I use it as an opportunity to connect with my pup through massage. It calms him down before bedtime and allows me to see if he has injured anything during the day. I only get through Step 1 of what’s listed in the article, but it’s still a good chance to give him the once over and get him accustomed to touch.

  9. sarah

    Mar 11, 2014 at 9:31 am

    My Old bassett loves a massage before getting up of a morning. .especially on his back legs. ..he melts into bed like a mushy marshmallow

  10. Bonnie

    Mar 11, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Love the info on massaging technique.i use some already for my Schnauzer.even though she is healthy.

  11. Jenifer Funk

    Jan 22, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    I teach canine massage to dog owners and people who want to be Certified Canine Massage Therapists. This is a great introductory routine for people to connect with their pets. I do treat canine massage the same way I do human massage therapy because it is much the same with indications, contraindications, and techniques so generally stay away from terms like “rubdown” but I thoroughly enjoyed your article. 😀 Cheers, Jenifer Funk, BME, LMT, NMT, CCMT, NCTMB,

    • Natasha

      May 16, 2014 at 11:33 am

      How I wish you were based in Johannesburg, South Africa! I would love to do your canine massage course!

  12. Sandra

    Jan 20, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    I massage my boy every night when we get in bed. I massage him until he starts snoring! He usually sleeps until I wake him up!

  13. Denise

    Jan 20, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    I have a chocolate lab with alzheimers and I have found some melatonin and doggie massage helps relief some of the symptoms of anxiety and “sundowners” evenings…I say massage and she lies down on her side now. Great Article!

  14. Rob

    Oct 15, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Still nothing beats a good belly scratch or rub.

  15. sandy sheldon

    Feb 5, 2013 at 11:58 am

    I used to massage my friends’ pitbull outside on the concrete patio, warm from the sun. That big boy would relax and just melt on the warm surface. Looked like a french puddle. (ouch!)

    • Vicki

      Mar 11, 2014 at 10:05 am

      hee hee berry punny

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