Canine massage

Dog health: Psychological benefits of massage

For those of you who have enjoyed a relaxing aromatherapy massage, or endured an agonizing sports massage, you’ll be aware that massage helps us to recognise the difference between a tight, contracted muscle and a relaxed one. Massage helps us to increase our awareness that we may be tensing certain muscles unnecessarily.   In addition to this, there are a number of ways that we can psychologically benefit from massage.  And our dogs feel the same way. Canine massage is a fantastic treatment for our dogs’ bodies as well as their minds.

Helping to reduce stress and promote good sleep patterns

A sedate, rhythmic massage will relax the body. As a result, the overall relaxation that massage stimulates helps to reduce stress, tension, anxiety and their effects.

Mental stress, anxiety and tension can be a hinderance to a regular sleep pattern. Therefore, a regular massage which helps the body and mind to relax can be an effective trigger for promoting good sleep. The body requires an appropriate amount of sleep to help it heal and regenerate. This is important, because among other issues, a lack of sleep can affect judgement, concentration, coordination and reaction times, and can be attributed to reduced immunity.

Massage creates a general feeding of well-being

Massage creates a general feeling of well-being. This is linked with the physical release of endorphins via the nervous system, therefore promoting a ‘natural high’ and easing pain.  As a result, it allows the mind to ‘switch off’ and unwind, and helps to reduce the mental stress associated with being in pain.

Canine massage and the importance of touch

A psychological side benefit is that massage fulfils the body’s need to touch.  A simple hug from a friend can help to lift our spirits and this emotional well-being and the feeling of being nurtured is improved through regular massage.

The importance of touch is not only reserved for humans and canine massage therapy supports this. Fogle (1992, p. 27) states that “touch remains forever the most potent reward a dog can receive, more important even than food….Stroking a mature dog that knows you can reduce his heart rate, lower his blood pressure and drop his skin temperature”. Horowitz (2010, p.293) also suggests that “for most dogs, the right touch by a human is a calming, bonding experience”.


  1. Fogle, B., 1992. The Dog’s Mind. London: Pelham Books.
  2. Health Reviser, 2010. The Physical and Mental Benefits of Massage. Available at:
  3. Hingle, L., 2011. Physiological Benefits of Massage. Available at:
  4. Horowitz, A., 2010. Inside of a Dog. London: Simon & Schuster.
  5. McGill, S., 2008/9. The Effects of Massage, SR134, Sports Massage, St Mary’s University College, unpublished.
  6. Natural Therapy Pages, 2013. How Your Body Benefits From Massage. Available at:
  7. Robertson, J., 2010. The Complete Dog Massage Manual. Dorset: Veloce Publishing Ltd.
  8. Tree, G., 2011-2012. Benefits of Massage. Available at:

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