How to Massage a Dog

Get to know your dog's body structure through massage.
dog image by cathy stancil from

Massage can be a relaxing and bonding experience for you and your dog. In addition to the attention that your dog will enjoy, you will get to know your dog's body and be better able to detect discomfort or changes such as lumps and weight issues before they become extremely painful or harmful. Routine massage sessions for your dog can aid in muscle relaxation, boost immunity and help rid the body of waste and infection through the blood and lymph system, writes Nicole Wilde, a certified professional dog trainer, in the book "Energy Healing for Dogs." After just a few massage sessions, you may notice your dog's physical and mental balance is improved or restored.

General Health and Stress Relief

Step 1

Approach your dog when he is sitting or lying down comfortably. Place your palms on your dog and use long strokes from his head to his tail. Run your hands down each leg and back up.

Step 2

Check for any new lumps while you massage your dog.
Owner playing with puppy image by Elliot Westacott from

Feel your dog's body for any pockets of heat or discomfort. If your dog winces or moves away from your hands, he may be sore in that area. An area of heat or swelling can signify infection or injury. Contact your veterinarian if you notice any sudden changes in your dog's body.

Step 3

Move your hands in a large circular motion to relieve stress and muscle tension, beginning behind the ears and working toward the tail. Circular massage can release toxins and lactic acid from stiff or sore muscles. Always begin a massage session by working your hands on both sides of the dog's spine, then work down his sides.

Step 4

Apply light pressure with your thumb and fingers to massage delicate or smaller areas of your dog's body, such as the face, ears or paws. The delicate skin and tissue in those areas requires a lighter, more precise touch.

Targeting Ailments or Injuries

Step 1

Locate an area of pain or injury on your dog. Your dog may have a pre-existing condition such as arthritis or a new injury that requires time to heal. Always consult your veterinarian to make sure massage is useful for your dog's injury.

Step 2

Place your hands near the point of injury, but not directly on it. Rub in a circular sweeping motion with your hands, focusing on your dog's reaction. If he seems to relax and enjoy the massage, you may massage your dog once daily. If he seems uncomfortable or sore afterward, lessen the pressure from your hands and shorten the massage session.

Step 3

Massage acupressure points to achieve the best results related to an illness or injury. Rub the root of the tail to aid in back, spinal and leg soreness. Lightly massage the throat and back of the neck to relax and revitalize the muscles in the mouth, ears, shoulders and forelimbs. Massaging between the shoulder blades releases tension in the ribs and aids in respiratory health.


  • Massage does not replace routine veterinary care.


About the Author

Kimberly DeCosta is an accomplished equestrian and entrepreneur. She has written for numerous equestrian publications and authored marketing packages for large companies and sports teams.

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