Dog Massage Guide: The Ultimate Way to Help Fido Relax

Ah, it’s massage day. There is nothing quite so relaxing as a good massage after a hard workout or even a crazy week at the office. Massage has been used therapeutically for thousands of years. Research supports the many benefits of massage including, relief from low back pain, decreased anxiety, and stress relief. Not only that but a study published in Science Translational Medicine found that massage reduced inflammation and was helpful with post-exercise recovery. The International Journal of Preventative Medicine published a paper stating that massage therapy even improves cardiovascular health.

Benefits of Dog Massage


Help your dog relax with a massage therapy session

Did you know that massage is also beneficial for your canine companion? That’s right, while we humans gain greatly from massage so can your dog. Canine massage is an alternative therapy that can do wonders for your dog both physically and emotionally while helping you become the best of friends.

Here are just some of the benefits that your dog may experience:

    • Relaxation and reduced anxiety – Is your dog anxious or easily stressed out? Some dogs are just higher anxiety by nature. Many dogs become frightened by loud noises such as thunderstorms or fireworks.  No matter what makes your dog unsettled, a good massage can ease his tension and help him relax.
    • Improve bodily functions – Canine massage can strengthen the immune system, decrease blood pressure, help with digestion, enhance lymphatic fluid movement, stimulate healthy kidney and liver function and encourage healthy respiration.
    • Stimulates healing – Massage is a great way to stimulate healing after an injury including sprains and strains. If your dog is older and has issues with his joints, massage is a great way to reduce inflammation and pain while increasing flexibility.
    • Promote wellbeing – Just like how you feel better after you get a massage, so does your furry friend. Massage releases endorphins that can help your dog feel his best.
  • Strengthens the bond with your dog – One your dog is comfortable with your massage therapy sessions, you will be closer than ever. He will look forward to that special time spent with you and how it makes him feel. This can help remarkably with trust and training.

Could My Dog Benefit From a Regular Massage?

While all dogs can ultimately benefit from a massage, there are particular dogs that really benefit from a regular session.

  • Dogs that compete in agility competitions.
  • Show dogs.
  • Hunting dogs.
  • Dogs over 7 years old.
  • Dogs with arthritis.
  • Dogs recovering from a joint or muscle injury.
  • Naturally high-strung dogs.
  • Dogs that have been abused or rescued.
  • Dogs that run or jump a lot.
  • Dogs that are timid or shy.

How to Massage Your Dog


Take your dog for a long walk before massaging

The best news of all is that you can actually massage Fido yourself right in the comfort of your own home. Follow these simple steps to an amazing massage therapy session.

Keep in mind that although human massage and canine massage share many of the same benefits, the method is not quite the same. Human massage techniques are a little rough for dogs, you will need to tone things down quite a bit for Fido to benefit. Light stroking or circular motions work best.

  • Prepare Fido – Yes, one of the benefits of dog massage is to promote relaxation, however, you never want to start a canine massage therapy session with an anxious dog. Make sure that your dog is relaxed and ready for some quiet time. Some people find that taking their dog for a long walk before a massage helps.
  • Location – If your dog has a favorite big pillow or bed that he likes, lay this on the floor and sit beside it. Encourage Fido to come and lay next to you.
  • Clear distractions – Make sure that distractions are clear such as other dogs, cats, television or even humans that may interfere with the massage session.
  • Create calm – To enhance the relaxation mode, put on some soft instrumental music and turn the lights down.
  • Pet your dog all over – To begin the massage, stroke your dog all over. Talk in a quiet and relaxing voice, praising your dog.
  • Neck rub – Begin massages by rubbing in a light circular motion on your dogs’ neck area.
  • Shoulders – Dogs can’t reach this area so take some extra time here with gentle pressure making circular motions all around the shoulder area.
  • Chest and front of legs – Move to the chest area and front of legs. If your dog does not like his legs massaged, move on – if he does like it – see if he likes his paws massaged. Be careful with the pads as some dogs have a “kick” reflex when they are touched.
  • Keep moving – Keep massaging and moving around until you get to your dog’s back legs and tail area.
  • Finish with an overall pat – Finish your dog’s massage session with an overall loving pat/scratch and kind words.

Gage Gets a Massage

Gage is going to get a relaxing massage

In this video, Certified Trainer and Massage Specialist Melanie Phillips demonstrates massage on her dog Gauge.

Massage Courses

If you want to learn more about dog massage check with your local veterinarian for any courses being offered near you. There are more and more of these popping up due to an increased interest in massage. In addition, you could also consider an online course.  

Pet Massage Products

Although using your hands is just fine for giving a great dog massage, there are some neat tools available. Once your dog is comfortable with hand massaging, you can consider adding some tools to your routine.

Massage groomer – This tool allows you to groom your dog while massaging. This is great for dogs that have long hair or are heavy shedders. Most grooming massage tools fit well in your hand and provide gentle stimulation for your Fido.

Rollerballs – Rollerballs are a great tool to use to increase blood flow and reduce inflammation. Be cautious of pressing too firmly when you use.

Back and neck massager – This tool offers relief for dogs who have stiff necks and backs or are arthritic. Specifically designed for the neck and back area, this massage tool can also be used on shoulders, chest, and hips.

4 Node Massager – These massage tools have 4 nodes that mimic flexible fingers and can be used to rub smaller areas.


This sweetie just had her massage

A Final Note

Unless you are a professional, never massage a dog that you are unfamiliar with. Always check with a specialist if you are not sure about the best way to massage your dog. Never use human massage tools on your dog.

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