How to Give a Senior Dog a Massage?

The deterioration of joints is common in older dogs and extra care is needed to keep their lives pain-free. Massaging your senior dog is one of the most effective techniques to deal with the stress on his/her body. It will decrease discomfort by improving the blood flow and flexibility of your pooch. Keep reading to know about how you can give a senior dog a massage and why it’s beneficial.

Benefits of Massaging a Senior Dog


Canine massage is a useful therapy for several acute and chronic conditions that your old dog can develop. It has many advantages and the most important ones among them are as follows.

Reduces Pain and Discomfort

Massaging a dog reduces painful contractions and spasms in his/her muscles by releasing the stored stress. It will prevent local tenderness and allow your canine companion to move better. Massage is also quite effective against nerve compression. This is because the nerves around the muscles become comfortable once the muscles are relaxed.  

Improves Blood Circulation

A smooth flow of blood is necessary for keeping your dog healthy. A massage boosts the functioning of the circulatory system by broadening the blood vessels and soft tissues. Hence, blood and lymph can move smoothly around muscles. It will ensure the timely delivery of oxygen and nutrients to all the cells of the body.

Relaxes Your Dog

Relaxation is one of the immediate benefits of a canine massage. It happens because massage triggers the release of endorphins in the body. This will make your pooch calm and relaxed. Similarly, it reduces the levels of stress hormones to release the tension from your dog’s muscles.   

Increases Muscle Flexibility

Massaging can also make your senior dog more flexible because it increases the elasticity of the muscles. It also enhances the length of muscles by stretching them out. Therefore, senior dogs feel more comfortable and can perform their daily activities with ease.

Helps to Detect Medical Issues

Giving a senior dog a massage will also enable you to identify swelling, tender areas, and skin conditions. It can be a huge advantage for owners because they can find problematic areas quickly and avoid severe complications.

Useful for Injury Management

Whether your senior dog is recovering from an injury or you are looking for prevention, massage is a reliable tool against injuries. It reduces muscle soreness and makes them more comfortable and stronger. Targeted exercises can be particularly useful for those canines who are trying to recover or strengthen specific muscles.

Types of Massage for Senior Dogs

The following are some simple massage techniques of canine massage that you can use for your senior companion.

Effleurage – Long, continuous strokes across your dog’s body are used in this method to relax your pooch. These gliding motions are often used at the beginning and end of massage therapy.

Petrissage – This technique is quite similar to like kneading dough. You will twist the skin to remove adhesion and massage the soft tissues underneath the skin. It’s a great massage for increasing blood circulation.

Compression – This is an ideal massage for your canine friend if he/she suffers from muscle spasms. You can either use your fingers or entire palm to push down on the muscles of your dog. The application of pressure will improve the movement of fluids and increase muscle length. It should be repeated on several different parts of your pup’s body to provide complete relaxation.   

How to Massage a Senior Dog?

Massaging is a great way to improve your relationship with your canine friend. This therapy aims to help your dog relax and feel comfortable. Hence, you should start slow and make sure that your pooch is enjoying the process. The steps that you can use to give a senior dog a massage are discussed below.

Make Your Dog Comfortable

Choose a quiet spot in the house to make your dog feel calm and comfortable. It will allow your pup to settle down and he/she won’t be fearful during the massage. Then, use some gentle strokes to pet the head, back, and other parts of your dog’s body. You can also speak to them in a soft and relaxing tone to eliminate stress.

You can either tell the dog to sit down or lie down for the procedure. Some owners also prefer to massage their canine while he/she is standing. If you notice any signs of discomfort, stop the massage and examine the area of concern. If there’s nothing obvious, it’s highly recommended to visit your vet for a proper examination.

Massage the Head and Neck

Start massaging your dog’s head with long, sweeping motions. Keep moving towards the neck and shift to circular motions when you reach below the head. You should move your hands slowly across the dog’s body and press softly against the skin.

If your dog seems to be enjoying it, you can apply a little more pressure. However, never apply too much pressure in the beginning because it can be uncomfortable for your senior dog.

Shift to the Shoulders and Chest

Keep moving towards the shoulders of your pup while making circular motions with your fingers. Many dogs enjoy the feeling of being massaged in between their shoulders. Hence, it can be considered their favorite spot and you can spend some extra time there. Then, shift your focus towards the chest of your pooch and massage it gently.

Try to Massage the Legs

Next, you should try to rub down on the legs of your senior dog. It’s possible that your canine friend may not like this idea because it can be too sensitive. If that’s the case, skip this step.

Otherwise, you can keep massaging their legs and even go for a paw massage if your dog stays calm. Just make sure that you are not pressing down on bones or joints because it can be painful.

Massage the Back

Now, work your way towards the back of your dog and massage the muscles on both sides of the spine. You will keep using circular motions to relieve the stress. Don’t forget to massage the tip of the tail because it can be very relaxing for pups.

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