Just when you think you’ve heard it all you find out about canine massage. If you already knew about canine massage you are officially on the cutting edge of everything dog. For those of us still getting used to day cares and walkers massage is moving out of the periphery and into the forefront of everything else we do for our dogs. Now, in addition to yoga and chiropractic care, we can allow our dogs to participate in the ancient healing of massage therapy.

Nitro before massage. Photo by Susan Strough

Nitro before massage. Photo by Susan Strough

When you consider massage for dogs it makes sense that dogs will benefit from massage in the same ways their owners do. Massage will help dogs recover more rapidly from injury or surgery. It will aid in the relief of joint soreness and pain while brining greater flexibility and mobility. In the case of wellness and prevention massage can prevent injury in young, active and sporting dogs. In addition to these physical applications there are behavioral applications as well. Massage can give aid to dogs suffering from anxiety or fear. It can also help condition a puppy to be calm and enjoy being touched. Our veterinarians and groomers would appreciate this aspect.

I was curious about how Nitro would receive a massage from a professional so I contacted Stacey Minshall, Certified Canine Massage Therapist of Peaceful Paws Pet Massage and made an appointment. Nitro is very protective of him and me and suffers from anxiety and fear. In addition to these behavioral challenges he has compromised hips and a dysplastic elbow. I believed him to be a perfect candidate for massage. The only challenge would be to make sure he didn’t make a meal out of his masseuse.

Nitro after massage

Nitro after massage

As a favor to his massage therapist I exercised him prior to his appointment to drain some energy. Under this circumstance I knew he would be more willing to relax.  Mrs. Minshall arrived promptly and  donned in scrubs as I was returning from my walk with Nitro. We went into my office where I introduced the two of them. She has a very calm and positive demeanor so it took no time at all for him to feel comfortable with her presence. With spa music in the background I presented Nitro with his bed which he was more than happy to occupy. Stacey took her place on the floor behind him and began her work. I was pleased to see that Nitro had no reaction to this novel experience. You could tell by his face and body language it took no time for him to begin to enjoy himself. Nitro walked away a couple of times as I would expect. He often changes position and places when he rests as most dogs do. It didn’t take much coaxing to bring him back to his bed each time. Stacey worked his entire body from his ears, to his toes, to the tip of his long tail. I believe I forgot to tell her about his dysplastic elbow but she was able to tell that the left side of his body was tighter than his right. This was an indicator of her experience. It makes sense that Nitro’s left side would be tighter as it compensates for the right dysplastic elbow. By the end of his 45 minute session Nitro was asleep.

If you have a dog suffering from pain or anxiety consider adding massage to your relief efforts. After this experience I believe Nitro will benefit from regular appointments. I only wish I had known about it sooner. The next time a new dog enters my life I will make massage part of its wellness program from the beginning.