Have you ever considered giving your canine a relaxing massage? Dog massage has a myriad of advantages: relieving strained muscles, soothing sore joints, fostering blood circulation and easing stress and anxiety… it benefits both the mental and physical health of your pup. Better yet, learning how to massage your dog will be a great bonding experience for you both. At the Creature Comforts CBD media event, we spent the whole day with Wendy Tan from HEAL learning how to give your dog the best doggy massage. We would love to share our learnings with you.
Our Canine Massage Therapist
Wendy Tan from HEAL --- an integrative care centre for domestic animals in Hong Kong, is a US-credentialed pet massage practitioner. As a canine physical therapist, Wendy knows that massage and acupressure are tools to help gain information about your pet’s wellbeing and support any chronic conditions.
“Massage is a good way for owners to get to know their dogs’ bodies, and collect information earlier to address issues that are going to happen. It can also help improve bonding as owners can really understand their dogs well.”
Apart from paying close attention to catering to the dogs’ needs, Wendy asks clients about their daily routines and habits, so that she can make suggestions on how the owner can apply pet wellness tips while giving out a dog massage.
Benefits of Dog Massage
- An Inspection of your Dog
Massaging is not diagnosing, but still, it gives us some signals and information to understand early conditions of potentially serious problems. As we have learned, if dogs are yawning and their eyes are half-closed, they are feeling relaxed and comfortable. But how do we know if they are feeling discomfort or painful? During the massage, if dogs keep licking their lips, it is an indication to show us that a chronic pain is ongoing. By screening your dog, you can check your pet’s paws for any abnormalities, e.g. a new lump emerging. If so, please reach out to your vet as soon as possible.
2. Stretching the skin and muscles
Very often, just like humans, dogs carry a lot of pressure on their shoulders, necks and lower backs, thus many of them have bad hips, unstable knees and tight shoulders. Unfortunately, dogs can’t tell us when they are suffering from pain or not. If your dog is having muscle tension, arthritis and joint problems, massage can also relieve fatigue and increase flexibility, by unlocking their contracted muscles and improving the blood circulation by applying back-and-forth rolling motions
3. Reducing your dog’s anxiety
If you think your dog might be anxious, there are recognisable symptoms e.g. panting, aggression and drooling, to name but a few. In fact, the area connecting the head and neck is where the parasympathetic nervous system is located, stimulating the system brings calming effects. Briskly rub their muscles to reduce his stress when he is hyperactive or when he begins to whimper and roll his eyes.
Can’t wait? Work your way up to a twenty minute massage.
Just like we set the stage for a spa day, for our pups we want to do something similar so they have a relaxing experience. Choose a quiet hour, when your kids are out for school or when you and your whole family is chilling in front of the TV, so that your dog can lay down and stay calm. Be mindful not to your dog after dinner time, or else they will be overstimulated.
- Warm-up the body with a few very long strokes along the length of the spine and down the tail. Repeat this.
- Start with the neck. Kindly use the flat surface of your fingers and the palm of your hand to circulate their soft tissues with fingertip pressure. Do not use sudden or direct force over a bone, as this may injure the dog.
- Gradually reach the shoulders by following the spine (but not on the spine), until your fingers feel the knots.
- Continue with the circulation, gently and lightly sweep the furs on its head, allow one hand to rest at the base of your pet’s head and the other hand to rest over the area of the pelvis to comfort its lower back. These two areas correspond to the part of the spinal cord that controls the rest and relaxation responses of the body.
- Do the above consecutively and then come back up from the spine.
- Finish the massage by petting, flushing and flicking over the entire body.
- Timing and strokes of the massage are not fixed. Respond and focus on your dog’s needs.