Animal massage for companion pets is currently a growing field. We all know everyday touch can bring our dogs comfort, but massage does much more than this: It triggers a parasympathetic response of the dog’s nervous system, signaling the dog’s body to heal itself. Massage focuses on the soft tissue of the body, including the muscles. It plays an important role in post-surgery and post-injury rehabilitation, as well as with the treatment of more chronic conditions, such as arthritis. Dogs with hip dysplasia, hygroma, spine disorders, allergies, swollen joints and even dry, flaky skin can benefit from regular massage. Gingivitis (red inflamed gums) can also be treated with gentle, circular massage to the gums, which increases circulation.
Four-legged animals have different needs than humans do, so it is important that the trained canine massage therapist be well versed in the anatomy and physiology of dogs before working on areas that have been stressed or injured. Without this knowledge, it is possible to make problems worse or even cause new injuries. It is also important that the muscles be warmed up prior to the massage or soreness can occur.
The benefits of massage include:
– Managing pain
– Strengthening the immune system
– Releasing cortisone, which alleviates inflammation and swelling
– Strengthening muscles, tendons and joints
– Releasing endorphins
– Increasing overall circulation
– Removing toxins
– Improving digestion
– Soothing dogs by reducing mental and physical stress
Excerpt from the book Your Dog’s Golden Years
Jennifer Kachnic, CCMT, CRP