Useful Tips

All massage techniques for dogs: a practical guide


This article is co-written by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliot, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and the treatment of companion animals. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery. He has been working in the same animal clinic in his hometown for over 20 years.

The number of sources used in this article is 60. You will find a list of them at the bottom of the page.

Have you thought about pampering your dog even more? It is not necessary to take her to a dog salon (which can be very expensive), you can also give her a massage at home. As with humans, massage helps dogs relax, improves blood circulation and relieves muscle pain. If you massage your pet, you will tie it to you even more. Start slowly, be gentle, and your dog will surely enjoy the massage.

What is a therapeutic massage and how does it help

Massage improves blood circulation in the affected area, accelerates the healing process.

Therapeutic massage reduces pain in diseases such as arthritis, intervertebral hernia, leg injuries, etc. Indirect heart massage can save a pet’s life, and massage of the bladder will allow the diseased animal to empty.

REFERENCE! There are many different massage techniques, and each of them helps to achieve certain results (strengthening the ear cartilage, restoring the sensitivity of the limbs, relieving pain and tension, etc.).

Contraindications to massage

You can not do therapeutic massage for a dog if there is at least one contraindication:

  • high temperature (up to 41-42 degrees),
  • infections accompanied by the formation of pus,
  • violations of the skin (eczema, wounds, inflammation, etc.),
  • fungal diseases
  • the presence of malignant neoplasms,
  • bleeding,
  • Fresh bone fracture
  • shock state.

Veterinarians do not recommend massage to an animal suffering from epilepsy or other diseases associated with impaired functioning of the nervous system.

Ttach Massage

Massage TiTach or Ttach is a technique aimed at eliminating the fears and various phobias that an animal experiences (fear of loud noises, etc.). Most often, the ears of the pet are massaged in this way, since the largest number of acupuncture points are located on their surface.

During a TiTouch massage, movements are neat and circular, with a little pressure. First massage the center of the auricle for 5-10 seconds, and then begin to move your fingers clockwise or counterclockwise. In the end, you should stroke and massage the tip of the ear a little.

Hind and forefoot massage

Before the procedure, the pet is laid on a comfortable bed for him. The purpose of hind and forefoot massage is to relax the animal, improve blood flow and relieve muscle tone.

The dog’s front paw is taken in the hand and fingers are slightly clamped, in this state they are held for up to a minute. After that, each pillow is gently moved up and down. The procedure is repeated with each paw.

After the toes begin to massage the tendons of each leg. After this, rubbing the upper part of the limbs (thigh, shoulder) is carried out. This massage is completed by carefully bending each joint.

Massage for paralysis in a dog

Massage for paralysis in a dog is an essential part of rehabilitation therapy. Before the procedure, the pet is prepared. To do this, the animal is placed in a quiet place, you can turn on quiet music.

Do not use a pillow or a very soft blanket as a bed. The best litter option is a dense and resilient mattress. The dog is stroked on the back in the direction of hair growth, and then they begin to massage the entire body, starting from the shoulders and ending with the tail. In this case, do not touch the spine of the animal and protruding bones.

The next step is massaging all paralyzed limbs. First, the paw is simply stroked along the entire length, then all joints are gently bent. The massage is completed by rubbing large muscles of the limbs and stroking the fingers and pads.

Indirect cardiac massage

To perform an indirect heart massage, a small or medium sized pet is placed on one side so that the head is just below the entire body. The sternum is encircled from two sides: under the elbows and from the back.

IMPORTANT! A large animal is not laid on its side, but on its back. Hands are folded onto the chest in the region of the heart.

The chest is compressed with short and vigorous shocks. During massage it is necessary to observe the rhythm: for small pets - 120 beats / min, for medium - 100 beats / min, for large - 80 beats / min. Indirect cardiac massage must be accompanied by artificial respiration.

Bladder massage

Bladder massage is performed for dogs with paralysis of the back of the body. The purpose of the procedure is to divert urine by mechanical compression. The need for such a massage is determined only by a veterinarian after a complete examination of the pet.

The dog is laid or placed on its paws, if possible. With your free hand, slowly feel the groin area. A full bladder feels like an inflated moving ball. Squeeze it should be the entire surface of the palm, the movements should be smooth and accurate. Such a massage is carried out up to 4-5 times a day.

Ear massage

The main purpose of ear massage is to give the auricle the desired shape during the growth of the pet. There are two techniques for such a procedure. The first is aimed at setting the ears of the puppy. To do this, gently hold with two fingers along the auricle in the direction from the base to the tip.

IMPORTANT! This should be done very carefully, if there is a room, it is ironed an additional several times.

If the breed of the pet involves hanging ears, but they began to rise in the puppy, it is necessary to smooth the resulting room. The correct bend of the ear is formed with gentle strokes and light massaging movements.

Tail massage

In some dog breeds (fox terrier, scotch terrier, etc.), the tail should “look up”, but in some puppies it falls on its back. In such cases, breeders recommend a tail massage, but should only be done in puppyhood until the vertebrae are numb.

During the procedure, the tail is massaged, straightened and slightly stretched. You can slightly raise the dog for him or gently pull on yourself (as if the animal was pulled out of the hole). Such a massage is done daily, but do not hope that it will radically change the shape of the tail of the pet.

Neck massage

Neck massage is done in order to calm the pet. Start the procedure from the base of the ears, while doing light circular movements with your fingers. Then you can go to the upper part of the neck, kneading it and slightly capturing the skin. You can not do very strong and painful tweaks.

After the neck muscles have relaxed, you can begin to stroke the lower part (from the side of the larynx). In these areas, the skin does not pinch, enough light circular movements with the palms.

Spinal massage for discopathy and intervertebral hernia

With discopathy and intervertebral hernia, spinal massage is strictly prohibited. Rehabilitation includes light massaging of the hind limbs. This procedure allows you to speed up the process of restoring neuroconductivity and sensitivity.

In case of intervertebral hernia, after removing the inflammation, combing with a soft brush along the entire spine can be connected to the foot massage, but pressure cannot be applied. The movements should be smooth and light.

Birth massage

During childbirth, you can make a massage that will strengthen the contractions:

  • The stomach is gently massaged in the direction from the front to the tail.
  • If a wave of effort has gone through your stomach, you should follow your hand along it.
  • Hands are greased with a greasy cream and fingers gently massage the base of the tail. You can also stimulate the area between the loop of the bitch and the anus.
  • Well stimulates contractions massage of the nipples.

If the dog’s contractions are strong and you don’t need to stimulate them, you can simply stroke the animal on the stomach.

Massage for arthrosis and arthritis

Massage with arthrosis and arthritis can be performed only if the pet does not have acute inflammation. First, the dog is lightly stroked, and then the muscles are flexed, pressing on them and pinching the skin slightly.

After warming up, they begin to make vibrating movements. At the same time, fingers slightly press on the affected area, making movements similar to shaking hands. After the main massage, the legs of the dog must be rubbed.

Massage for dysplasia of various joints

With dysplasia of various joints (ulnar or hip), the dog is shown massage. The animal is laid on its back, and with a sick paw, circular movements are carefully made so that the affected joint is involved.

This action is reminiscent of the exercise "Bicycle". Massage is done daily, always in combination with the main treatment.

Massage for constipation

Massage for constipation is done only if the pet’s stomach is not hard and the animal does not feel pain when it is touched. The dog is laid on its side or placed, and then stroked the entire surface of the abdominal cavity in a clockwise direction. Such actions stimulate peristalsis and help the animal to empty faster.

Lower jaw massage for bite correction

Massage the lower jaw to puppies in order to try to correct the bite. The dog is seated with its back to the knees, the mouth is opened, and with both hands they begin to massage the jaw, while pulling it forward. This procedure is carried out 2-3 times a day.

REFERENCE! Such a massage can help correct only a slight overshot.

Testicular massage for cryptorchidism in puppies

If the puppy suffers from cryptorchidism, you can massage the testicles so that they descend into the scrotum. Such a procedure is indicated only for those animals in which both testes are located in the groin. If one testicle does not fall in the groin and remains in the abdominal cavity, only surgery will help the animal.

The puppy is laid on its back, and then both testes are found under the skin. Fingers gently grab one testis and gently push it toward the scrotum. The procedure is repeated with the second testicle. Such a massage is done daily, 2-3 times a day.

Massage for mastitis

Massage with mastitis is aimed at alleviating the condition of the animal and breaking up cones formed due to stagnation of milk in the mammary glands. The dog is laid on its side, the skin of the mammary glands is smeared with Pikhtin ointment.

The mammary glands are slightly massaged, but you can’t touch the nipples, as this will provoke the production of milk. If there is a lot of it, and the udder itself is hard and hot, it is necessary to carefully express a little milk in order to relieve tension. At the same time, the mammary glands continue to be gently massaged.

Massage with rickets in puppies

With rickets, puppies are given massage of the joints and muscle tissue of the limbs. The pet is laid on its side, and then they begin to massage each paw in a circular motion. If the limb is curved in the joint area, it is massaged “inward”, while slightly straightening and stroking the joint. This procedure is done regularly 2-3 times a day.


There are times when massage is contraindicated. This procedure should not be done under the following conditions:

  • fever
  • any damage and skin lesions (eczema, tumors, wounds, pustules),
  • bleeding
  • fresh bone injuries with severe pain,
  • epilepsy
  • severe diseases of the liver and kidneys,
  • shocked.

If the dog has at least one of the listed contraindications, then refuse the massage. Otherwise, the treatment will do more harm than good.

Some tips

Before you massage your dog, read the following tips from veterinarians:

  1. You will need basic knowledge about the anatomy and physiology of dogs. You can find out about the characteristics of the animal organism from the veterinarian. You can also find this information yourself on dog breeding sites.
  2. Turn the pet over during the procedure to massage one side first and then the other. Try not to press on the stomach, this part of the body can only be lightly stroked. Otherwise, abdominal organs can be damaged.
  3. If your pet is diagnosed with a serious illness, then massage procedures are best left to a specialist.
  4. If you are doing a prophylactic massage to a healthy dog, then the procedures should be regular. Try to spend at least 10 minutes daily. This will be a good prevention of arthritis.
  5. If your pet is healthy, then pay attention to his reaction to the procedures. If the dog is dissatisfied (growls, shudders), then do not force it. You need to train the animal for massage gradually.

Doing a general massage

Veterinarians recommend a general massage to prevent disease. The methodology for its implementation is as follows:

  1. Cover a hard surface with a soft cloth. Put a pet on it and stroke it from head to back.
  2. Massage the back first with your fingers and then with your palms. Carefully knead the skin, being careful not to put pressure on the spinal column.
  3. Focus on the sacrum. Massaging this area prevents joint diseases.
  4. Spread your legs in a downward direction. Then bend and straighten each finger.
  5. Gently pat the pet in the stomach. At the same time avoid sharp pressure.
  6. Now proceed to massage the face. Take the cheeks with your fingers. Lift them up and then lower them down. Stroke the chin, as well as the area around the nose and eyes.

Complete the procedure by stroking the tail from the base to the tip.

Relieve pain

How to massage a dog if something hurts? The technique of the procedure is as follows:

  1. Put the dog on a blanket or on the floor, make stroking movements and speak with the dog in a soft voice.
  2. Rub your shoulders, neck and back in a circular motion, as if you are kneading a dough. Do not press hard on the body; this may aggravate the pain.
  3. Gently stretch your paw muscles. Move from their base down. Do not forget to massage your fingers.
  4. Direct exposure to the focus of pain is prohibited. You can only stroke and stretch the muscles around the sore spot. This will help improve blood circulation and reduce discomfort. Be especially careful if the dog suffers from cancer. Try not to touch the neoplasms, this can trigger their growth.
  5. Complete the procedure by lightly stroking the entire body from head to tail and each foot.

Helping the dog relax

A relaxing massage for dogs is needed to calm the nervous system and relieve stress. It is useful to do this procedure when your pet is frightened by something or after a hard day. In this case, the main attention should be paid to the area of ​​the head, ears and back.

Follow the sequence below:

  1. Stroke the entire body of the pet. At the same time, try to gently talk with the dog. Pat the dog by the scruff of the neck. This will help the animal calm down and relax.
  2. Start the massage from the neck. Massage this area in a circular motion downward. Do not press excessively, remember that there are many vessels in this area. Massage your ears and the area around them, but very carefully.
  3. Then go to the shoulder girdle. Make the same circular movements. Gradually move to the tail.

This completes the procedure. You can finally stretch the tail a little or rotate it three times in different directions. But watch your pet's reaction. Some dogs relax such manipulations, but not all dogs like touching the tail.

Massage the limbs

Massage of the hind legs in dogs is done with paralysis and muscle weakness of the extremities. This procedure is an important part of rehabilitation. It stimulates nerve endings and develops muscles. This helps restore normal limb mobility.

To achieve the proper effect, the dog needs to massage the paws regularly. Treatment should last at least 20 minutes a day. To achieve the result, about 20 procedures are required. Then they take a break for 14 days and repeat the sessions.

How to massage a dog’s paws? It is necessary to give preference to kneading and vibrational influences. This helps stimulate and restore nerves and muscles.

Use the following massage technique:

  1. Stroke the entire body of the dog. Try not to take your hands off. Your pet should be completely relaxed and calm.
  2. Carefully stroke the paw. Move from its base to the heels. Then slowly bend and straighten the limb. Repeat this movement 5 times.
  3. Massage your paw in a circular motion. First move to the inner surface of the limb, and then to the outer. Repeat massage movements three times.
  4. Rub the leg muscles well. Gradually increase the intensity of the impact, but do not overdo it. Gently massage the heels and interdigital spaces.

After massaging one paw, move on to the other. Using this technique, you can massage both hind and forelimbs. Если повторять сеансы регулярно, то лапы вновь обретут силу. Постепенно ваш питомец снова научится ходить.