Humans aren't alone in indulging in luxurious massage. Massage therapy relieves stress and promotes better health. Dogs benefit from massage therapy, as well as from acupressure, a healing technique based in Chinese medicine that has been used for more than 3,000 years.
Canine Massage Therapy Basics
Canine massage is recognized as helping a dog's overall wellness by improving flexibility and range of motion in your dog's joints. It promotes pain reduction, decreased soreness and stiffness, anxiety reduction and cardiovascular health. On top of these, canine massage is an excellent way to bond with your dog. Currently, you do not have to be licensed to administer canine massage. Training classes teach techniques you can use at home to help your dog with muscle tension. During massage therapy, your hands stimulate the dog's muscles, skin and lymph system. Pressure is light. A simple technique is to start by using the fingertips and stroking from the nose to the base of the spine. Next, use your thumb and "walk" them down the spine with your thumbs placed on either side.
Conditions That Benefit From Massage Therapy
Some veterinary clinics offer massage therapy because it is recognized as beneficial to dogs for pain management. Musculoskeletal injuries in dogs can benefit from massage therapy, but a thorough exam must take place before implementing massage. Senior dogs are often candidates for massage therapy because of stiffness and aching in their joints and muscles. Dogs experiencing hip dysplasia and arthritis can reap the benefits of massage. Proper technique is crucial, and it varies from one condition to another. Senior and arthritic dogs may experience more pain if massage is not performed in the correct way for their specific conditions.
Canine Acupressure Basics
Chinese medicine is based in the idea that substances in the body nourish it and move through it. Chi, or energy, and blood are two of these essential substances. Chinese medicine states that injuries to the joints and other parts of the body interrupt the vital flow of blood. Acupressure -- placing pressure on pressure points -- is believed to get blood flowing properly, promoting healing. Acupressure uses the hands and fingertips to place firm yet gentle pressure at certain trigger points in an effort to encourage the flow of blood to a certain area. Points are located throughout the body, and each point corresponds to a different ailment or problem. Placing pressure on the trigger point is believed to heal the corresponding area or ailment.
Dogs experiencing pain or recovering from injury can benefit from acupressure. Canine massage therapists and holistic veterinarians may implement acupressure as part of their treatment. Practitioners of canine acupressure believe the flow of blood to the injured area can heal muscles or ligaments, joints, scarring and some chronic conditions. Acupressure requires caution to avoid hurting dogs who have sensitive muscles or joints. It may not be suitable for all dogs, such as senior dogs or toy breeds. Arthritic dogs may not benefit from acupressure. Consult your veterinarian before using acupressure on your dog.
Pamela Miller has been writing for health, beauty and animal health/welfare publications for seven years. Miller holds a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Communication from MTSU.