Pawsitive Touch

by Vanessa Davis // April - May - June 2024 CIRCA Magazine

Massage – an indulgence that can relieve tension, reduce pain, and promote relaxation. It’s a pampering experience that promotes overall well-being, leaving you refreshed, invigorated, and ready to face the world anew. But this therapeutic practice that rejuvenates both the body and the mind isn’t just for humans. Just like us, dogs can benefit from the soothing touch of massage therapy.

When you massage your pup, you’re engaging in the gentle rubbing and kneading of their muscles and soft tissues. There are two primary techniques for canine massage. The first is known as effleurage, which involves a long, gliding stroke along the length of the muscle. This gentle gliding motion encourages blood flow in the area and helps your dog to relax. This technique also provides the opportunity for you to feel for any areas of muscle tightness that may need extra attention.

The second massage method is called petrissage, a firm kneading and rolling motion that mimics a typical relaxing massage. This technique has the same effect on your dog’s muscles as it does on yours – improved blood flow and reduced muscle tension.

Less commonly used in dogs is tapotement, also known as percussion, when you rhythmically, lightly tap on your pup’s body using the sides of your hands or with cupped hands, stimulating circulation and invigorating your furry friend.


Research has shown that dogs, like humans, respond positively to touch. Stroking and massaging your dog can reduce his stress levels, decrease his pain, and increase his flexibility. It triggers the release of dopamine and serotonin levels in his brain, making him feel relaxed and helping him sleep. Massage benefits all dogs, but is particularly good for elderly animals with arthritis.


There are certain circumstances when you should avoid massaging your dog. If there is an area of active inflammation or a bone fracture, massage will be painful and make her condition worse. Dogs with bleeding problems should also not be massaged because the firm pressure on their muscles can cause further hemorrhaging.


For senior dogs, massage will make them physically more comfortable and mentally more relaxed. However, it’s not the only thing you can do to care for them. Other ways in which you can improve your senior dog’s quality of life are:

– Provide a soft, warm bed that keeps him off the hard floor. Make sure it is low enough for him to easily get in and out.

– Keep her weight in check. Her joints are more likely to be sore if she has to carry around a few extra pounds.

– Give him a product called “Joint Resolution” regularly. This product contains collagen, hyaluronic acid, and chondroitin to improve joint health and mobility.

Canine massage offers numerous benefits, promoting relaxation, reducing pain, and improving overall well-being. By practicing proper techniques, you can provide your furry family member with a soothing and therapeutic experience that enhances his quality of life. Just remember to be mindful of any existing health conditions and consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Vanessa Davis

Founder and CEO of Dirty Dogs Spa, with locations in Wake Forest (929 Heritage Lake Road, Suite 500) and Raleigh (Stonehenge Market, 7490 Creedmoor Road).