Does your fur baby love a good ear rub? Do they close their eyes when you scratch that special spot underneath their chin with your fingers?

Touch is so important – to animals and humans alike. Research has shown that physical contact is critical for both physical and mental health.

When it comes to your favorite pooch, a pat on the head or a caress down their back is one way of celebrating the love between you. It builds the trust your pup has for you as they age, and the good-feeling hormones that you each experience cement your unbreakable bond.

Why not take your special relationship up a notch by using therapeutic massage? This is becoming more popular for dogs.

You can certainly take your dog to an animal massage therapist. However, there are some relatively easy massage therapy techniques you can learn yourself to use on your canine companion.

First, let’s take a look at the benefits of dog massage and then we’ll explore different dog massage techniques.

The Benefits of Dog Massage

dog massage benefits

As we’ve begun to discuss, massage is invaluable as a bonding ritual to bring people and their dogs closer. Plus, when you know you’re doing something beneficial for your pup, you feel reassured that you’re being the best pet parent that you can.

Beyond nurturing the relationship between dogs and their owners, massages can also alleviate many health issues such as lowering blood pressure and more.

Here are 10 ways that a dog massage can be beneficial to your pup:

Reduces Anxiety

Some dogs are naturally more anxious and excitable than others. They’re the ones who may hide in the hall closet when there’s a thunderstorm or react nervously when they arrive at the vet clinic. Massage can really help calm dogs down when they’re feeling stressed and reassure them that there’s nothing to be worried about.  

Improves Circulation

A healthy circulatory system brings muscles the oxygen they need for optimal functioning. Dogs love to run and play, so give yours a massage before exercising to improve blood flow. This is also a way to reduce potential muscle cramps. You wouldn’t exercise yourself without warming up, right?  

Relieves Joint Pain

When your dog reaches a more mature age, they’re likely to have some joint pain and may develop arthritis. Add to that the fact that some breeds are prone to having joint issues such as hip dysplasia. A gentle rub down of their muscles will make all the difference in their joint pain and function. 

Assists Digestion

Let’s face it, all dogs have tummy troubles from time to time. Just 10 minutes of dog massage, however, can lead to better bowel movements.

Strengthens Immune System

Keeping your pet healthy and resistant to disease and infection is at the top of your list. Research has shown that massage is effective in strengthening the immune system. 

Promotes Deep Breathing

A soothing massage causes breathing to slow down and deepen. Not only does breathing deeply promote a feeling of relaxation, but it supports healthy lung function for your pup.

massage benefits for dogs

Helps Prevents Injury

Whether it’s before or after play time, a nice massage can help prevent muscle and joint injury. Using massages to get Fido’s limbs conditioned for a good run and rubbing down the sore spots afterwards is always a good idea.

Aids Kidneys and Liver

Kidney and liver problems in dogs are quite common. Massaging your pup with a gentle pressure aids kidney and liver function.

Moves Lymphatic Fluid

The lymphatic system has a critical role in draining fluids from tissues and filtering the blood. Massage therapy can keep lymphatic fluid moving and lymph nodes healthy.

Supports Well-Being

Finally, one of the benefits of animal massage is that it supports overall well-being. In other words, it has the effect of restoring balance and energy in the body. You’re apt to see your fur baby enjoying their day much more after a morning massage!

Dog Massage vs. CBD for Dogs

If you’re looking for a holistic option to help your dog with discomfort or stress, you may want to consider CBD.

CBD is more popular than ever in the holistic wellness space, and more and more pet parents are turning to CBD every day to help support their dog’s health and happiness.

CBD works by interacting with a dog’s internal endocannabinoid system, helping to support normal cardiovascular, immune, and neurological function. But CBD can also help with promoting relaxation in dogs, helping with occasional discomfort, and even supporting mobility–just take a look at all the success stories of pet parents who’ve used CBD for these reasons and more.

The best part is that CBD for dogs comes in all forms, like CBD oil, delicious bites and chews, and even CBD-infused peanut butter! This makes it incredibly easy to administer CBD to your pup–in fact, most dogs look forward to their daily dose of CBD thanks to the delicious flavors CBD comes in.

How to Massage Your Dog

dog massage techniques

Are you convinced that massage therapy is good for your doggo and are ready to try it out?

There’s no pressure to take your pup to an animal massage therapist or pass a course yourself. The good news is that there are some simple techniques you can practice at home to give your dog a massage.

Read on for the basics.

Set the Stage

Start by finding a comfortable place for your pup’s dog massage. Select a location where your canine friend can stretch out and relax and you are able to move around them. Pay attention to the temperature of the room, what your doggo is lying on, and whether there are any distractions nearby.

You’ll want to make them as comfortable as possible before you begin so they’re receptive to receiving their first at-home massage from you. This extends to choosing the best time of day. For example, is your dog naturally more relaxed after their afternoon walk or before bedtime?

Calm Yourself

Once your dog seems reasonably settled, take a few deep slow breaths before you begin. This should be a positive experience for both of you, so you need to reduce any stress you feel about doing your first canine massage.

Remember, you’re learning dog massage techniques and, as you try out different dog massages, you’re also finding out what your pet likes and doesn’t like. 

Start with a Cuddle

Take time to pet your dog’s body and give them a gentle hug. The act of slowly running your hands over their coat will reassure them and help them get ready for the massage. At the same time, use your softest pet parent voice to help them relax. 

Rub the Ears

Your pooch is probably used to ear rubs, so this is a good place to go next. Take each ear between your thumb and fingers. Your thumb should be at the base of the ear flap, just inside your doggo’s ear while your index finger is on the outside of the ear. Slowly stroke away from the ear base with a gentle pressure and repeat until you’ve covered the entire ear flap surface. 

Stroke the Head and Shoulders

Lay your hands flat against your dog’s head and slowly move them back in straight strokes down the shoulder area. Since your pet can’t reach this place themselves, your therapeutic touch will feel very satisfying.

dog massages

Knead the Neck

Using a circular motion with your open palms, apply gentle pressure to your dog’s neck. Work your way around the neck area several times, carefully kneading with the flat of your hand.

Caress the Back

Start with some slow careful caresses down your dog’s back. Then continue to massage their coat with circular motions, applying some light pressure. Take care to stay on either side of the spine and move your hands to the base of the tail.

Massage the Chest, Front and Back Legs, and Paws

Next, focus on your pooch’s chest using the same tender circular motion. Carry on massaging their legs and paws, making sure that you touch is gentle. Your dog may resist you rubbing their paws at first, so proceed gingerly.

Remember to focus on the muscles and avoid putting any pressure on the joints or bones. Finish by allowing your dog to stay lying down as long as they want.

If you’ve had a deep tissue massage yourself, you may recall the massage therapist encouraging you to take your time afterwards and get up slowly. It’s no different for your pup. After a massage, they may even be relaxed enough to enjoy a short nap.

Dog Massage: Final Thoughts

Giving your dog a massage is a great way to spend some quality time. You already enjoy nurturing them with long walks, offering them a healthy diet, and finding that perfect play time toy or tasty bone.

Incorporating a dog massage into your regular routine will round out your canine’s care and cement the loving bond the two of you share! 

how to give a dog a massage

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it good to massage your dog?

Yes, definitely! A regular massage has many physical and mental health benefits for your dog. Furthermore, it’s a terrific bonding habit for you both.

How often do dogs need to be massaged?

How often you massage your dog is up to you and your pooch. If your dog really seems to enjoy it and you see some immediate health benefits, such as calming their anxiety, you might want to make it a daily exercise.

How do you give a dog a massage?

Massaging your dog includes some very simple steps. Begin with a comfortable environment with minimal distractions. Start by rubbing their ear flaps then move down their body with gentle stroking motions. Making small circles with your open hands works well too.

Where can I learn more about dog massage therapy?

You can read more about dog massage therapy by going to the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM) website

How can I tell if I’m massaging my dog correctly?

Notice how your dog reacts during a massage. You already know where they love you to pet or scratch them. Massaging these areas should feel soothing. Watch for any areas of their body that seem to be sensitive to touch – even if you’re being gentle, they may not like the sensation.