I LOVE massages!!! I could spend a day at the spa treating myself to lots and lots of pampering. The various aromas of lavender, ylan-ylang, and tea-tree oil tingling the senses. A good welcoming rub to relax those stressed back muscles. And finally, hot pleasant steam of the sauna bath. If I could, I would take a massage daily.
Scientifically speaking- stimulation of immunologic system is one of the many advantages of massage, for this reason it is applied as a complementary therapy – in many medical conditions that imply a depressed immunology. Massages fasten the process of cellular oxygenation and help to prompt recovery from injuries. Even toxins from the body are eliminated as the blood circulation improves. Certain massage techniques contribute to fat melting and amelioration of cellulite and skin appearance. Additionally, mental benefits can be obtained too. Massages induce a state of mental relaxation and reduce stress. It also helps to liberate endorphins (happy hormones. The connection between physical and mental benefits is so tight that one leads to the other, bearing in mind the human being as a whole where mind and body are inter-connected. In some cases, massage therapy has been useful to improve psychological conditions as anxiety and depression with good results.
Well, the advantages of massages are pretty clear in humans. However, recent studies have proved that massages can be beneficial even on animals. Massages can help your pet to cope with many ailments, physical and mental with simple 10 minutes of daily massage. Massaging on your pet has confirmed major advantages. They are-
– Calming the dog: Young dogs are generally very excited. Jumping about, clawing/ teeth on the furniture, curiosity for everything around is normal. At this point we usually tend to tie them up so as to calm them. But dogs hate being tied up. With so much energy to expend, it is difficult for them to sit still. Tying up a dog with lots of energy may lead to mental stress; at times they may physically injure themselves trying to get off the leash. Massage works best in this situation.
– Improves Health: As does massage to our body, so it does to theirs. Older dogs suffering of arthritis, or weak bones should be given a good 5-10 min massage daily. Gentle rubbing on the painful parts will surely help to relax those muscles, and alleviate stress and pain. My dog suffers from arthritis. He has it in his hind legs. And the paws hurt a lot. After his daily walk, I massage his paws- each bone, hind legs, his tail and also the lower back. I can see instant change in his behavior. From extremely stressed and painful body, he is ready to play ball.
– Improves functioning of the body: Just as massages help to circulate blood and oxygen in the body of humans, so it does in dogs. Excretion of toxins from the body also improves.
– Bonding: Lastly, massage can help to create a better bond between the owner and the dog. The quality of time spend together in a relaxed atmosphere is certainly a thumbs-up for a stronger, trusting, loyal bond.
If you want to try massage on your dog at home, it is first necessary to understand the anatomy of the dog. You don’t want to apply pressure at areas that are delicate. Get yourself a chart of doggy anatomy. Once you know the placement of parts, you are ready get it going. One way to massage a dog, which I personally follow is as-
Have your dog lie on a soft, firm surface such as a rug or his favorite spot. Make sure that the area is neither too cool nor too hot. Start with several soft, slow circulating strokes from head to tail. As your dog begins to relax, scratch gently behind the ears, moving to the cheeks, under the chin, over the nose, between the eyes and over the head. Rub each ear several times between your thumb and forefinger, working from base to tip.
Using the tips of your fingers move slowly over the neck, shoulders, and chest in small, circular patterns, gently pinching folds of any loose skin in these areas. Please ensure that if you have long nails, they don’t dig into your pet. Lightly squeeze down the length of each foreleg and on each side of the leg and softly rub opposite directions several times. If your dog is comfortable with having his feet handled, use your thumb and forefinger and give each paw a couple of soft squeezes. Pass your finger gently between his/her “fingers”. Repeat this action till your dog relaxes.
Further, using your thumb and index finger on each side of the spine and ‘walking’ them toward the base of the tail. If you have a fat cuddly Labrador as I do, just using finger tips may not be enough pressure. Making a fist and using your knuckles can help. Move down the rear legs in the same way as on the front legs. If at any point, your dog resists, respect his wish and move to the last area or technique he enjoyed. Finish up with several soft, slow strokes from head to tail.
Look out for any burrs, ticks, or skin abnormalities. However, remember that the purpose of this tete-a-tete is to relax your dog. Make a note of anything you find is abnormal and keep it for later. Avoid massaging on wounds, lumps, rashes or any sore spots.
My dog likes certain smells, like lavender and lily. I always make sure to buy fresh fragrant lily flowers on the days of massage. This will add that extra touch to massage. Even low lights, if your pet likes it, will help him to relax faster and give you the pleasure of giving a massage. Many massage oils as tea-tree oil, lavender, eucalyptus, and rosemary are available for cats and dogs. Use them too. However, ensure that these oils are specifically made for animals and not humans.
Remember, deep massage should be done only by a trained and certified practitioner so it’s very important to always keep your home massage light and gentle. When you finish, your dog will most likely be snoozing peacefully and you may be surprised to find your own tensions melted away as well.
The above method of massage can also be tried on pet cats. Ensure that the cat is not in a playful mood or hungry before the massage, for all you will get is a frustrated cat and annoyed you.