Dog Massage: Trend or Treatment

Ah yes, that’s the spot, a little lower. If dogs could talk, no doubt they’d be interested in a dog massage. What some may guffaw at is actually a very real, doable, and human-animal enhancing experience to bond with your dog and spot potential health problems.

“Will you be using the in-room masseuse during your stay, Mrs. Bryant?”

The concierge asks that of my dog when we visit pet-friendly Inn by the Sea in Maine. Indeed, if Fido needs a little rub down after a day at the beach, a pet masseuse is more than happy to service that need on premises.

Dogs make our lives better: They are ready at a moment’s notice to be mood enhancers, help people recover better after a heart attack, and just sitting and petting a dog can make both parties involved feel better. Touching a dog, in fact, can save a life.

Dog Massage: Trend or Treatment

When a tiny raised lump appeared on my first Cocker Spaniel’s shoulder blade about two weeks after getting her then yearly vaccinations, I felt a twinge of “something isn’t right” course through my veins. My gut instinct was right: Getting it checked right away most likely saved her life: It was cancer.

The next time you sit down to pet your dog, consider these 10 touches that just might save your dog’s life (note: If your dog is not accustomed to touching, now’s a good time to start: From veterinarians to groomers, getting a bath to getting his nails clipped, touch should be an acceptable, positive behavior throughout a dog’s life).

Remember the 10 for 10 rule: 10 minutes, 10 touches. We do this at least weekly.

CLICK THIS: 10 Touches to Save a Dog’s Life

How to Properly Massage a Dog

Of course, if you are not a trained masseuse or masseur, there are some things you should avoid with your dog during a massage. This video from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) features Dr. Narda Robinson demonstrating some basic canine massage techniques.


Who Can Give a Dog a Massage?

Although in many states anyone can provide animal massage, including evaluation, treatment, instruction, and consultation, there are exceptions.

There are animal massage and therapy laws by state, which are listed on the International Association of Animal Massage & Bodywork / Association of Canine Water Therapy website.

Click This: State Laws for Dog Massage

Think about it: Would you want someone to give you a massage who was not in some way certified, knows how to lay their hands on you, and is skilled in proper technique and function so as not to cause harm? The same holds true for our canine companions.

Dexter undergoing laser therapy
Cold IV laser therapy, groovy baby

Physical Rehab and Ongoing

When our dog injured his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and then needed subsequent rehab, we opted for cold laser therapy and massage at a local veterinary hospital.

The Northeast Veterinary Referral Service says that modalities available for animal physical rehabilitation include: aquatic therapy (underwater treadmill, pool, or whirlpool), therapeutic LASER, acupuncture, electrical stimulation, therapeutic ultrasound, massage, joint mobilizations, hot and cold therapy, passive range of motion, stretch, and therapeutic exercises.

For dogs with arthritis, ligament issues, non-surgical candidates, and for general overall well-being, proper massage techniques can be invaluable in the overall care plan.

medicine versus mom

Medicine Vs. Mom

Our blogging buddy, Rachel Sheppard of My Kid Has Paws, is a former veterinary technician. From time to time, we co-author a blog post like this for the “Medicine Vs. Mom” series. Check out what Rachel has to say about dogs and massage therapy here.

Would you ever consider massaging your dog? Have you? Let us know your thoughts and feedback in the comments below. 

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  1. Hmm, honestly I am not sure if I would massage a dog or not!
    It would be neat to start when they are just a puppy to get them used to it.
    We used massage on my son when he was little and the health benefits were amazing.. I am sure this is just as true for pets too.

  2. I gently massage my dogs every now & then, they seem to love almost all touching from us, they’re quite touchy feely! The exception is Phoebe not loving her feet touched. I think she may have some arthritis there so I very, Very lightly rub the tops of her feet. Thanks for the Maine hotel reco, we plan to visit Maine next Summer.

  3. I can’t get past that first photo of the doggie on the massage table. Haha. That’s just so cute! I’m so glad that you were able to catch the lump in your doggie. I love petting my dog but I never thought about rubbing all over for lumps but I’ll definitely be more aware of that. Thanks for all of the tips.

  4. We believe massage is good for overall well being, but it is not a permanent fix for anything, just a short term feel good. It is perfect as part of a wellness program.

    1. Hi Emma, I completely agree with you. Massage done properly is perfect as part of a wellness program and can provide a multitude of health benefits and aid in prevention of a number of problems. However, it should never replace consistent veterinary care.

  5. That’s how I found a huge lump in my cat’s neck, which turned out to be a fast growing tumour that couldn’t have been there long. My dog Jack is the most hedonistic dog we’ve ever had. He’ll lie on your lap, on his back and let you give him a massage for an hour.

  6. I massage my dogs and my cats. They seem to love it. I also see it as a great way to keep myself familiar with their bodies so that I can notice any changes.

  7. It’s so interesting to see a blog post on canine massage from someone else! Thank you for spreading the word. Of course I am biased as a professional canine sports massage therapist, but I certainly feel training and certification should be required. I would never let someone manipulate my dog’s muscles without knowing what they are doing. If done correctly, there are so many desensitization and health benefits for animal’s of all ages.

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