Massage Therapy for Dogs
Various Techniques for Canine Massage
Massage is divided into different techniques based on the systems it affects. The circulatory system responds to the stroking. The muscles and skin respond to kneeding, passive joint movement and stretching. The nervous system benefits by passive touch and stroking. The massage therapist will evaluate the animal and determine which technique is best suited for the pet. That technique is then performed three times. The direction of application varies. Sometimes it is toward and away from the heart. Other times it is with the muscle fibers, across the muscle fibers or circular in motion. Efflurage is the movement of blood. Rotary, one-hand and hand-over-hand efflurage increases circulation, flushes the tissue and warms the tissue. This is used to open and close a massage and is used from head to tail, over the entire body, down the outside limb and up the inside of the limbs. Passive touch requires no pressure or movement of your hands. The hand is held in place for 30 to 90 seconds to warm the tissue and calm the animal. This is used at any time during the massage. Kneading techniques can be superficial or deep. Superficial kneading, which is skin rolling and pinching, stimulate the skin and hair coat. It increases circulation and flow. Deep kneading affects the muscle fibers. It is applied directly to the muscle not to the bone. This brings blood and nutrients to the belly of the muscle. It releases toxins and muscle spasms. The different techniques are compression, digital kneading, finger stripping, chucking (one- and two-handed) petrissage, cross-fiber friction, angel wing (one handed or two finger), V-spread (one handed, finger/thumb) and sifting. Tapotement stimulates and enlivens the animal. These techniques are never to be used on an animal with a history of abuse. Cupping is used on the chest area and loosens mucus within the lungs. Hacking is used on large muscle areas, not on the spine. Tapping may be used over the body and head. Brushing is used on all muscle groups. These are applied three times only, for 30 seconds or less. The placement of the hand is light, quick and never finishes on the animal. The last stroke should land in the air. Stroking is used to calm and quiet the animal. This is a closing technique, and is applied very lightly and slowly. Passive joint movement and stretching is a range of motion physical therapy for the moveable joints. Positioning is important. Misuse could cause trauma to the joint and tissue.