Dog Massage: Benefits and Techniques From the Experts

Dog Massage: Benefits and Techniques From the Experts

Discover the many benefits of dog massage and learn some simple techniques to try at home from the professionals.

If you’ve ever had a massage, you know how great it can be. It promotes relaxation, muscle flexibility, and comfort, and has myriad other benefits to human health. And some of those same benefits can also be experienced by our pets with dog massage!

While it might seem strange at first to think about, massage for dogs can be a very useful wellness tool for your canine. We chatted with two nationally board certified canine massage therapists, Melissa Lage and Jesse Naul, to get the down-low on massage for dogs. They helped us – and now you! – understand the benefits of giving a massage to your canine companion, how to massage your dog at home, and when and how to hire a professional masseuse for your pet. We also include some information about how CBD can improve your pet’s massage experience.

The Benefits of Dog Massage

The benefits of this practice are numerous, and your pet will likely demonstrate a variety of positive reactions to massage. Naul and Lage mention that balance, improved circulation, comfort, and happiness are just a few of the major results they’ve seen in their clients.

Massage Can Help With Pet Balance

“Canine massage is so important for allowing better balance in our pet companions,” says Lage.

Naul, who owns the company Calming Pause, agrees that massage can promote your pet’s stability. “Working in conjunction with your veterinarian, canine massage can be a powerful tool that provides relief, stability, and comfort to your canine companion,” he says. He adds that massage can “restore balance after activity” and also “aids in improving range of motion.”

Rubbing Can Improve Your Dog’s Blood Circulation

In the same way human massage can improve our circulation, this benefit has also been seen in canines.

Naul says one of the notable benefits of dog massage is that it “increases circulation throughout the body.” Better circulation has a number of benefits, including keeping your dog limber and mobile and supporting heart health.

A black and white australian shepard lays on his side receiving a dog massage

Massage Makes Your Pet More Comfortable

Lage mentioned that the benefits of massage for dogs include supporting mobility and promoting calm. These effects can make your dog so much more comfortable and happy.

Lage has seen a lot of other comfort-related results in her furry clients. “I have seen dogs who were incredibly uncomfortable with any touch become very open to touch and to seek that connection with their families outside of our sessions,” she says. “I have seen a decrease in swelling post-surgery and recovery times that have been improved. I have seen massage, when combined with other modalities, profoundly change the lives of dogs with regards to movement in general and overall zest for life. The benefits are so broad reaching, I feel like I could tell stories forever.”

The Emotional Benefit of Touch

Both Naul and Lage also mention that a pet’s mental state benefits from focused, intentional touch from their owners and other humans. Dogs are social creatures who need love and affection, so one of the major benefits of canine massage is emotional: joy and pleasure. It makes them happy!

How to Massage Your Dog at Home

There are three easy steps to giving your dog an at-home massage. Start with a simple touch to see how your pet reacts, then try some long, gliding strokes with light pressure, and don’t forget to give some rubbing attention to your dog’s paws! If your pet has significant needs, consider hiring a professional dog massage therapist.

Start with Touch

It might seem like an assumption that our dogs love to be petted and touched, but that’s not always the case. Lage recommends starting your dog massage by “laying gentle hands on your dog,” and noticing their reaction. Are they warm or cold? Do they relax and roll over when you touch them, or stiffen and freeze? “This is an excellent time to work on slowing your breath and just being present,” says Lage. “I think this is the best way to begin any massage session as it really sets it apart from just a pet cuddle session.”

Of course, if your pet doesn’t respond well to your initial touch, don’t continue with the massage.

A brown boxer reaches out his leg to get massaged by a professional

Use Long, Gliding Touches: Effleurage

One simple dog massage technique is called effleurage. “This is using long, gliding strokes that are applied with light pressure using both hands on the entire body of the dog,” Lage says. “We generally use this gentle stroke to warm up the soft tissues before any more manipulative or deeper massage techniques and it is comforting for most dogs.”

Don’t Forget the Feet and Toes!

Lage recommends that all pet parents work on the feet and toes of their dog when they have an opportunity. “Pay attention to paws and gently wiggle a toe up and down,” she says. “This helps acclimate dogs to having their paws handled and it is also a way to inspect nail and pad condition.”

Consider a Professional

Depending on your pupper’s condition and needs, hiring a professional is sometimes not only convenient, but also necessary.

“I strongly recommend you research to find a local certified massage therapist to work with you and your dog,” says Naul. “Therapeutic massage is best performed by a highly trained and skilled professional.” A massage professional has spent many hours studying anatomy, physiology, and hands-on techniques.

“A professional therapist will also know of potential contraindications (when massage is not advised) to ensure the best quality of care is being provided for your dog’s current condition,” says Naul.

The National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM) has a list of member practitioners that may be helpful in finding a dog masseuse in your region.

A hand holds out cbd balm for dogs and a dog's paw reaches up for it

The Benefits of Using CBD in Your Dog’s Massage

“I have many clients that utilize CBD in various forms,” says Lage. “I could see it being beneficial as part of a home massage, particularly with the massage of toes and paws mentioned above.” CBD is easy to incorporate into a massage because there are multiple modes of application, and it might even make the massage more pleasant for your pet.

CBD Is Easy to Use

You don’t need to be a professional to use CBD in your pet massage. Our CBD Balmis so easy to use on your dog – there’s nothing to it!

Simply scoop out some of the balm before you start the massage. Made with coconut oil, the balm is especially soothing on paws and elbows.

Multiple Options for Application

CBD comes in a number of different products – the balm is just one way to incorporate CBD into your massage routine. You can also choose to let your dog ingest CBD as a special treat before the massage. Or let them enjoy some CBD peanut butter after their massage for the ultimate reward!

CBD May Make Your Dog More Comfortable with Massage

Adding CBD to your dog’s overall wellness routine might make it a little easier for them to relax every day, and can help them enjoy the benefits of being massaged. There are also CBD treats that contain ingredients to support your dog’s mobility, such as our CBD Hip+Joint Chews for Dogs with glucosamine HCL.

Try Something New with Dog Massage

Dog massage, especially when complemented with CBD, can be an excellent way to bond with your dog and make them comfortable and relaxed. “Canine needs really aren’t that different from us, with therapeutic touch playing a role,” says Naul. “As our companions age in life, caring for their overall well-being is not only a duty but an honor to explore as many positive avenues as possible.”

Consider trying a massage for dogs at home or hiring a professional!