Massage is not a luxury item for dogs but an important technique for improving your dog's well-being. Dogs have muscles too! Just like humans, dogs can get strained and sore muscles from several factors including:
- Athletic injuries (such as the 'weekend athlete' who overdoes it)
- Arthritis or stiffness
- Inactivity due to injury, surgery, illness, age or obesity
- Hidden structural imbalances
Most dogs are born with structural imbalances, both purebred and mixed breed dogs. Structural imbalances can hinder a dog’s natural movement, causing muscle strain and discomfort from normal activities such as walking and running. These problems will compound over the years and result in middle-aged to older dogs who have trouble performing normal fun activities, like running around the park or even just walking and resting.
Professional canine massage can improve the function of the dog’s muscles, and soft tissue, thus minimizing the negative impact of structural imbalances over time and reducing vet bills later in life.
Athletic dogs can also strain their muscles, just like people. This includes the "professional" canine athlete performing in obedience, flyball, herding or agility as well as the "weekend" doggie athlete who goes for a long hike or park play session. Dogs often strain muscles but unlike people, may hide their symptoms until they become extreme. Their survival instincts tell them to “hide their pain” in order not to appear weak to the rest of the “pack”. Also, dogs can become so enthusiastic about what they are doing or so anxious to please their owners that they keep performing even though injured. For example, a herding dog may keep working on herding sheep until its paws are bloody.
Massage is also thought to benefit elderly dogs, inactive dogs and dogs recovering from injuries by improving circulation in the muscles and lymphatic system. Elderly dogs suffering from stiffness and arthritis often feel better, move easier and experience less pain after a massage session.
Massage might also have behavioural benefits, such as helping to relax aggressive or hyperactive dogs or building confidence in shy, fearful dogs.
Dog show exhibitors know the benefits of massage in helping their dog feel, look and move better. Owners competing in conformation showing often get regular massage for their dogs enabling them to perform better in the ring, thus winning more shows.
Even if your dog is not a champion show dog, canine athlete or working dog, don't they deserve to feel good from regular massage sessions?
Many owners and veterinarians report enhanced well-being in dogs receiving one off treatments or regular massage. Canine massage, like good nutrition and exercise, is an important component of preventive health care for your dog.
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