Massage provides many benefits for dogs suffering from arthritis:
- Regular massage can help slow down the degeneration of joints.
- Reduces muscular tension, which helps relieve some of the aches and pains associated with arthritis.
- Stimulates circulation and helps drainage.
- Helps remove toxins.
- Provides some sweet quality time to bond with your best friend.
A few tips before you begin:
- To really make a difference, you need to massage your dog at least two to three times a week. Consistency is key!
- Session should last 10 to 15 minutes- longer if your dog is a large breed.
- Massage should be done in a peaceful, calm setting.
- Do not overwork any one body part, as this can lead to further inflammation.
- If your dog shows discomfort or cannot stay still, begin with shorter sessions and gradually increase duration over time.
- Early morning and evening are the most beneficial times to massage an arthritic dog (after an active day or in the morning when they are stiff or uncomfortable).
- Massage around (not directly on) the achy joint and on the surrounding muscle with long strokes or a gentle kneading motion .
- If your dog resists a particular spot on the body or certain massage techniques, move on to something that feels good.
- Deep tissue massage for injuries or pain relief should only be administered by a certified canine massage professional.
- If your dog’s joints appear inflamed after a massage, wrap a cold towel around the area to soothe any pain and decrease inflammation. If inflammation persists, consult your veterinarian.
Times when you do not want to massage your pet:
- After your pet has just eaten- wait at least two hours after eating.
- If your pet is sick they may not want to be touched- just be sure to listen to their signals- they will let you know!
- Avoid massaging the back and belly of a pregnant animal.
- Just after intense exercise. Wait until your dog has a chance to cool down and rest.
How to Massage Your Dog:
- Start by simply placing your hands on your dog for 30 seconds or so to establish a connection between you and your dog.
- Use long, light strokes along the length of your dog’s body (from head to tail) to warm the body.
- Massage with small circles with your thumbs on either side of the spine. You can also use your fingers to “walk” along the spine. This feels great and helps with overall circulation, lymphatic drainage and spinal health.
- Next, use a very light kneading motion over tight muscles (like kneading dough), to help loosen the muscle fibers and stimulate deeper circulation. Make sure to massage the neck and shoulders because your dog will most likely adore you for it!
- Intersperse with long, light strokes to help drainage.
- Massage the feet (if your dog can tolerate it-take care to avoid getting bitten by foot-sensitive animals) by gently squeezing and pull slowly down the toes. This physical therapy technique can improve the neurological connection from the brain to the feet, improving mobility.
- Massage the legs (front and back) with long strokes, starting from the feet and moving up the leg towards the hip and buttocks.
- Use the gentle kneading motion around the hips and buttocks. Remember, do not work directly over arthritic joints, work on the muscles around them.
- Do some easystretching exercises to help the joints and surrounding tissues with mobility and flexibility. Gently bend and flex arthritic joints to improve range of motion.
- Wind the session down by massaging the ears with slow, gentle rubbing of the inside and outside of each ear.
- End the massage by gently stroking your dog’s entire body for deep relaxation.
- Go out for an easy, short walk to help keep everything moving and circulating!
Have fun and enjoy this time with your dog. It will promote optimal health and well being for both of you!