Your pet's skin can be healthier and more beautiful with a little stimulation or massage. Although more research is necessary to formally define the benefits of massage, some studies have shown that massage can increase the production of certain chemicals in the body, including endorphins and serotonin [source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine]. These chemicals can help put your pet in a better mood, reducing stress and creating pure bliss and relaxation from head to paws.
Pet skin massage also can relieve pain by improving circulation and removing muscle tension [sources: WebMD]. Stimulating the skin/fur helps promote healthy hair growth while causing an overall pleasurable sensation for your pet.
How Do I Massage My Dog?
Massaging your furry friend can be quite simple: Use a flat palm to slowly touch all the parts of your dog’s body. Really focus on what you are feeling, and pay attention to all the layers, from hair through skin, fat, muscle, and down to the bone.” While rubbing is great for the larger muscles, they recommend that for the legs you “wrap your fingers around each lower leg and squeeze gently.”You can then finish up any massage session with a gentle full-body petting.
Stress & anxiety
Always pay attention to your dog’s ears. The ears are the part of your dog most closely related to stress and anxiety levels. According to Life & Dog, “Massaging the ear and ear flaps will relax and invigorate her entire body.” Paying close attention to the ears can help combat their stress as well as overall fatigue
Stomach & Nervous System
Sometimes you have to go beyond simply scratching your dog on the head. Massaging their head can have some truly incredible benefits for their nervous system and their According to Iheartdogs.com, your dog’s “nervous system is directly correlated to the cranial [area].” If your dog is suffering from digestive issues, the belly is a great place to focus your massage. Working the belly with the palm of your hand will help your dog’s stomach muscles to relax.In the long run, this will help them to stay more regular and will cut down on gas and bloating.
Did you know massaging your dog’s back is good for combating restlessness or hyperactivity? Patting the back can calm down a hyper puppy or reactive adult dog.
Joints and Infections
Your dog's legs are absolutely crucial to their ability to run, play, and overall function. Massaging your dog’s front legs prior to any physical activity will be of great benefit. Warming up the muscles will not only help prevent injury, but it is good for your dog’s joint health.
Life & Dog goes so far as to say that “working in the crease behind your dog’s elbow will help him cope with infections and allergies.
Just as the chest is an important area when it comes to human health, the chest is also one of the most important areas that you can massage on your dog. The chest is directly connected to your pet’s circulatory system, so a gentle rub can be good for their overall heart health. This area can also be known to have a positive influence on their blood pressure.
The paws can be one of the most sensitive areas on your dog, because the paws are actually directly connected to many different parts of the body. Massaging your dog’s paws can be great for the health of several of their body’s systems. This area also is great for building trust between your dog and yourself.
Similar to the front legs, the hind legs are a great place to massage before any extreme physical activity. This spot can help increase your dog’s overall flexibility, and improve their range of motion.
According to Modern Dog magazine, paying attention to the pelvic area just above the hind legs can be great for “the rest and relaxation responses of the body (for example, sleep, digestion, and tissue repair).”
The Whole Body
And, as if the specifically focused massage benefits weren’t enough, there are a massive amount of overall massage benefits that might just encourage you to give your canine a full body work-over. Kneaded Pets writes, “Beyond the obvious benefits of relieving muscle tension, it can be a powerful tool for realigning the spine and body. Massage aids in the circulation of the body, which assists the joints and muscles [to] flush toxins from the tissues.” They also report that dog massage “increases energy, concentration, and alertness, heightens immune system function, promotes longevity, and slows degenerative processes.”
The benefits of massaging your furbaby are absolutely incredible. Not only will your dog appreciate the physical affection, but their bodies will be extremely thankful as well!