Basics of Dog Massage

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 121,212
    Canine Massage Therapist Patty Bianca discusses the basic structure of all muscles, how canine massage addresses muscle tension, and how to use your hands in flushing out that muscle tension.

    Patty Bianca

    Patty is an equine sports massage therapist and canine massage therapist trained and certified by Equissage,the internationally renowned leader in equine sports massage. She has also attained the level of Reiki Master in the Usui Shiki Reiki Ryoho method of natural healing. After many years of perfecting her techniques on a volunteer basis, Patty opened Natural Relief for Horse & Hound, LLC, in late 2006, offering massage and energy work to animals throughout Central Maryland and Southern Pennsylvania. She is an active member of the International Association of Reiki Practitioners, the International Association of Animal Massage Therapists and the International Association of Animal Massage & Bodywork, and her practice is fully insured. Growing up in a household where rescued animals were constantly present, Patty learned early how to care for and communicate effectively with animals of all kinds. She has since been involved with many rescue and animal advocacy organizations, including the Chesapeake Bulldog Club of Greater Baltimore, Justice for Dogs, New Life Equine Rescue in New Windsor, Maryland, and Tranquility Farm Equestrian Education and Renewal Center in Thurmont, Maryland. She and her husband authored a booklet on dog ownership entitled “Mom! Dad! Can We Get a Dog?” which was featured on “Live with Don Scott and Marty Bass” on ABC Television, and Patty has published many articles in local periodicals on animals and animal care.

    Patty Bianca: Hi! I am Patty Bianca of Natural Relief for Horse & Hound, I am here with Whisky showing you how to massage your dog and in this segment were going to discuss the basic structure of all muscles how canine massage addresses muscle tension, and how to use your hands in flushing out that muscle tension.

    All muscles are formed of millions of tiny little fibers that work together to move our bones. The large part of the muscle is called the Belly, and it tapers off into the ends that attach to the bone. Now, these tapered ends that muscle spasms typically form because they bear the greatest stress. Muscle spasms are basically knots that form when we stress or overwork our muscles and they twist together or form a knot. They start off small but given time they kick off the cycle of pain in which the spasm grows and edema sets in. Edema is a substance that glues those muscle fibers together and toxins also begin to build up, it restricts blood flow and it also restricts movement. The hind strokes that youll be using to flush out the edema and address these spasms are compression. The first one is compression, this is used to warm up or open the muscle, its also used to relax or close the muscle after treatment. Its done simply by using the heel of your hand, placing it on the muscle to be treated and giving it a slight twist. You can also use the back of your fingers or the tips of your fingers for smaller dogs.

    Precaution is also an opening and closing hand-stroke. With this, youre going to make a very loose partial fist, but youre not going to pound on your dog, youre simply going to loosely tap, a rhythmic tapping motion, you can also for smaller dogs use the tips of your fingers or even the side of your hand in some areas. Again, keeping that hand nice and loose and bouncy.

    The next opening, closing and locating stroke, this is going to be used also to locate those muscle spasms, its called the Cat Paw, and its called that because youre going to take your hand and just slightly need the tissue, like so.

    The next stroke is going to be Jostling and this is used in the neck area just to warm up these tissues, youre just going to cup your hand over and just slightly pull the tissue towards you letting go very gently. Jostling is used to warm up the tissue.

    The next hand-stroke is called Palpation. Palpation is going to locate those spasms and you simply use your thumb or the tips of your fingers in the designated areas and drag it across the area, like so, feeling for any knots or lumps or looking for a reactive area in which your dog might jump or give you, hey, look! to tell you that you found a spot that hurts.

    The next hand-stroke is very similar to palpation and used in the same way, but its called the Zigzag and its called that because youre going to use the tips of your fingers in a zigzagging motion, like so.

    Now, we want to direct pressure, direct pressure is what we use to actually treat those little spasms that we find, and how that works if you just simply take your thumb or the tips of your fingers, you apply it over the area of the muscle spasm, you go in at a very light pressure for ten seconds, back out to zero, go in at a heavier or moderate pressure for 15 seconds backing out to zero, and then, going in for a heavy pressure for 20 seconds, and thats direct pressure, thats enough to release those fibers and let that edema push out and let the good blood flow in.

    In the neck and top of the shoulder area after direct pressure well use a move called cross-fiber friction, thats simply using the tips of your fingers and dragging it across those dense muscle fibers to further release that spasm, just for about ten seconds.

    The final hand-stroke youll learn is a very simple one, its called Sweating. This hand-stroke is used over the kidney areas and the bony point of hip. You simply lay your hand over that area and leave it there for 20 seconds.

    In very sensitive dogs you can use a sweating technique all over, its appropriate for use anywhere.

    This was the fundamentals of how to massage your dog and in the next segment well get started by working on the head and the neck area.

    Whisky looks eager for her massage, so lets get started.