Pet Massage Therapy: More than Just a Spa Day for your Dog

What are the benefits of Canine Massage?

The history of Massage Therapy dates back thousands of years to ancient cultures that understood and believed in its medical benefits for humans. It helps us cope with and alleviate the effects of stress and physical and emotional imbalances. Now, we are finally using massage to comfort and help our animals!

The benefits that dog’s get from massage are similar to the benefits that we get. Canine massage affects mood, chronic anxieties such as dog and food aggression and separation issues. It helps alleviate pain and increase mobility and range of motion. It helps competition dogs have better times and less injuries. I’ve seen young dogs that are exhibiting growing pains find relief, and older dogs who can barely move, get up and act like a puppy again.

They Heal Themselves

When bones are broken, they may require surgery or a cast to immobilize and prevent movement. Neither one of these methods heal the bones, it puts them in a position that allows the body to do what it does best, self-heal. Massage supports the balance of fluid and circulation within the fascia. When there is balance, healing can occur (homeostasis).

Here are just a few examples of how massage helps our pets

Your dog has surgery, but due to the trauma of the repair, significant swelling has occurred. Gentle, lymphatic massage helps to move the edema out of the area so that the body can resorb the fluid. Once the swelling is reduced, the dog is more comfortable, able to rest and allow the body to do the repair work necessary to heal.

Your dog suffers from Osteoarthritis but you’re concerned about the effects NSAID’s can have on the liver and kidneys. What now? You want your dog to have quality of life and not suffer from daily pain. Massage helps by increasing circulation, moving stagnant fluid out of the joints and surrounding areas, and increasing the range of motion.


If our animal’s are alive, they’ve got stress. Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to both good and bad experiences that can be beneficial to their health and safety. However, chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms and can affect the overall health and well-being of our animals. It can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Some of the factors that cause stress in our pet’s lives can include: physical illness (chronic or acute), injury, surgery, grief, separation anxiety, thunderstorm phobias, fear anxiety, and aggression.

The central nervous system (CNS) is in charge of the “fight or flight” response. Once the perceived fear is gone, the CNS should tell all systems to go back to normal. If the CNS fails to return to normal, or if the stressor doesn’t go away, it takes a toll on the body. Massage stimulates the nervous system to produce hormones that have tremendous benefit on the entire body while at the same time reduces unwanted or out of balance levels of chemicals that can have a detrimental effect. Massage increases the available levels of Dopamine (the happy hormone), Serotonin (the calming hormone), and Endorphins (the body’s pain reliever) while decreasing Cortisol (the fight or flight hormone). High levels of Cortisol have been linked to many stress-related symptoms and illnesses such as anxiety, inflammation, and aggression. You can easily see how a dog that constantly feels the need to “patrol and protect” their human’s property, thereby increasing their Cortisol levels, could suffer from a variety of stress-related symptoms.

Massage should be thought of as preventative medicine…

Think of changing the oil in your car or brushing your teeth, you’re making a small investment to prevent larger costs in the future. Massage is not a “cure-all” or a replacement for Veterinary care, but used in conjunction with regular exercise, good nutrition, and regular wellness checks, massage therapy can be a vital tool in increasing the quality of our pet’s lives.

Melanie Hampton

Serenity Pet Massage

Registered Veterinary Technician

Certified Canine and Equine Massage Therapist

Healing Touch for Animals-AP® and Reiki Practitioner

Certified Pet Tech® Instructor

Certified Pet Food Nutrition Specialist

Certified Raw Dog Food Specialist

Certified Canine Kinesiology Tape Practitioner

(919) 436-3306