What is massage?
The technical definition can be put in these terms:
“The manipulation of soft tissues of the body. It brings about positive changes in muscles, tendons (which attach muscle to bone) and ligaments (which attach bone to bone).”
That’s the technical, science based definition. Now as a practitioner in dog massage, I’d prefer to put it this way:
“Massage is intentional touch, not just heavy petting!”
It’s Not Just Heavy Petting!
No seriously, let me elucidate: Massage is “intentional touch, given with an attitude of respect and love.”
Veterinarians work with the motto “Do no harm.”
My own motto is “Helping pets feel good! While doing the least possible harm.”
To me, that means getting back to the basics of touch. It means using the ancient healing properties that are found in nature.
I believe massage can be therapeutic on a cellular level AND on an energetic level. Intentional touch unblocks systems which allows an animal to heal him or herself.
One of the first questions I get asked is “Why do dog massage?”
Six Reasons To Massage Your Dog:
- For relaxation
- To manage pain
- To accelerate the healing process after an injury or surgery
- To increase range of motion in the joints as well muscle tone
- To ease the effects of aging
- To reduce emotional problems due to trauma, anxiety, fear
4 Benefits of Dog Massage
Massage offers many different kinds of benefits.
1. Physical Benefits:
Massage increases the flow of five different systems in mammals:
- Blood (circulatory system, bringing oxygen to the area)
- Lymphatic (cleansing system, so toxins can be expelled through lymph glands)
- Cerebral spinal fluid (moves up and down spine and bathes skull, vertebrae, sacrum)
- Synovial Fluid – bathes the joints to increase range of motion.
- Chi – according to Traditional Chinese Medicine this is the life force that flows through meridians in the body. If something is blocked, it leads to imbalance and potentially illness.
2. Emotional Benefits:
Your dog learns to feel safe. He or she feels understood, valued and accepted. Touch works on a whole other level of bonding.
3. Communication Benefits:
When you’re massaging your dog, a silent communication happens, soul to soul if you’ll let it. Because of this, massage can actually help in training. It aids enormously with your interactions in terms that your dog can understand.
4. Bonding Benefits:
Dog massage gives your dog your love! It increases the bond you already have with your dog.
Those regular dog massage sessions are also a great way to do a weekly wellness check to assess any changes in your dog’s health.
Is there a new lump or bump? Is there a sore that won’t heal? Does your dog flinch when you touch a particular spot?
By detecting problems earlier, you can alert your veterinarian and thus nip a more serious problem in the bud.
You’re giving your dog a gift of something that they cannot do for themselves, like treat their paws, or rub their neck.
They can’t tell you “it itches here, it hurts here.” But through dog massage, you can learn to read signals and notice changes with an educated eye.
Watch and listen and feel.
Part 2 of this article (CLICK HERE) will teach you some simple massage moves you can use on your dog.