How to Massage Your Dog

Photo 29259026 / Dog Massage ©️ Barna Tanko |

A dog massage might be just what your pet needs. Wait, what? You’re most likely thinking we’ve lost our minds: They are dogs, after all. Hear us out! A dog massage can address health issues like arthritis and injuries. Plus, it can bring many other physical and mental benefits to your pet and you. For the type of dog massage in this guide, you don’t need years of training; it’s free, takes only minutes, and you don’t have to leave your couch. It’s time to indulge your pet and learn how to massage a dog.

Dog Massage Benefits

Although a dog massage aims to relax your pet, massaging your canine companion can bring other benefits such as:

  • Relieves stress and anxiety
  • Reduces pain
  • Improves overall well-being
  • Strengthens attachments of muscles and ligaments
  • Provides the chance for detection of health issues
  • Improves bodily functions such as the lymphatic and cardiovascular circulation
  • Improve joint flexibility and muscle tone
  • Enhances the skin and coat by distributing the skin’s natural oils
  • Strengthens the bond between you and your dog

How to Massage a Dog

Remember, as much as dogs mirror us humans, they aren’t humans. The same massage techniques used in human massages may be too rough for our canine companions. With that said, here are the steps to a relaxing dog massage:

  • Start your massage by gently petting your dog.
  • Applying gentle pressure, slowly run your thumb from the bridge of your dog’s nose over the head. Go back and forth a few times.
  • Follow up with an ear rub. With your thumb on the inside of the ear, your index finger on the outside at the base, slowly stroke outward to the end of the ear. Repeat motions on the other ear.
  • Move on to the neck. Make circular motions around the sides of your dog’s neck. For small dogs, use small circular motions; for large dogs, wider circles.
  • Continue making circles toward your dog’s shoulders, chest and down the front legs (and paws if your dog permits).
  • Next, rub your dog’s back on each side of the spine using circular motions.
  • Finish your dog massage with the same circular pattern on the tail area, down the hind legs, and back paws if your dog allows.

Tips for Massaging a Dog

While a dog massage brings benefits to both pet and human, there are a few tips you should follow:

  • Select a quiet place for your dog massage to ensure your pet remains peaceful with little to no distraction.
  • Maintain a calm voice and relaxed demeanor while massaging your pet because dogs are intuitive and can feed off your mood, reflecting your behavior.
  • We don’t recommend massaging an anxious or fearful dog as they can react negatively, which could pose a danger to you and your pet. Instead, try to relax your pet by taking it for a long walk before you begin your dog’s massage.
  • Avoid areas your pet doesn’t like touched.
  • Stop massaging if your dog pulls away, cries out, growls, or bites at your hand.
  • If your pet suffers from arthritis, never massage directly over the affected area. Forcing a massage may cause more harm than good.
  • Avoid performing deep-tissue massage techniques that can injure your pet if done incorrectly. Instead, consult your vet, who is familiar with dog anatomy.
  • If your pet is relaxed and tranquil from the massage, trim your pet’s nails, and hair around the face, tail, or legs, or brush your dog’s coat.
  • How long a dog massage takes is subjective: A 20-minute massage can do wonders if your dog enjoys it. For those pets not sure about the spa treatment, starting at just a few minutes and working toward a more extended massage is better.

During your dog massage is an excellent time to look for bug bites, skin irritations, lumps, or any changes to your dog’s skin. Notify your veterinarian of any concerns.

For dogs that suffer from arthritis, other treatments beyond massage such as swimming, cold-laser therapy, and acupuncture or acupressure may prove helpful in addressing pain and soreness. Of course, these include getting ample exercise and maintaining a healthy weight.

A dog massage is a great way to improve your dog’s overall well-being, spot potential health problems, and strengthen your relationship with your pet. With a few minutes of your time and zero money out of your pocket, you can spoil your four-legged friend ⁠— because you know they deserve it.


Photo 29259026 / Dog Massage Barna Tanko |
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