Massage therapy has gone to the dogs

Posted on April 1, 2011

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This is Turbo. A 15 year old Labrador mix who resides in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Your friend’s calendar says “Rover’s massage, Wednesday @ 1:00”.

You might laugh and think it’s frivolous and for the ultra-pampered pets…. but it might surprise you to know that animal massage has quickly become an accepted form of physical therapy for animals.  Many people are interested to learn that massage has the same benefits for animals as it does for humans.  It makes sense when you consider that we are all made of the same materials – organs, bones, ligaments, muscles, skin, cells and emotions.  You may also be surprised to know that animals, like dogs, get muscle tension just like we do, and similarly, the neck and shoulders are the places where tension builds.  In fact, dogs naturally carry 60% of their body weight in the front part of their body – forelimbs, shoulder and neck area.  Subsequently, if your dog has lower back, hip or hind leg discomfort, chances are they are compensating for that pain and carrying even more weight up front, potentially causing more stress and strain that can lead to problems like arthritis.  Joint and muscle pain can also come from obesity and genetic conditions like hip dysplasia.

Athletic dogs who run or compete in agility competitions or other sports, are more prone to muscle tension and fatigue, but inactivity is another way for tension to happen as well.  Unfortunately, a lack of exercise creates stagnation in the body and can lead to a weakened immune system, and poor circulation and cardiovascular health.

Most everyone who has a dog enjoys gently rubbing their furry companions, but a certified animal massage therapist knows the structure of the animal’s muscles, how to feel for muscle tension and apply specific massage techniques in order to release it.

Massage affects the body in dynamic ways, and there are many reasons why you may choose massage therapy for your pet, and preventative care is a great reason.  Massage should never replace your pet’s veterinarian, but rather be a complementary part of their health care.  I think of massage as “wellness therapy” – helping the body to stay healthy and heal itself naturally through a relaxing and loving experience.

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Posted in: Canine Massage