Massage therapy for dogs is an alternative animal therapy. For dogs suffering from arthritis, massage therapy can have many benefits. Knowing what massage therapy can do for your dog and how you can get massage therapy services for your dog is an important way that you can improve your dog's quality of life.

How can massage therapy help your arthritic dog?

Arthritis is a degenerative disease that causes inflammation, pain and stiffness in the joints. Massage therapy helps alleviate these symptoms by aiding blood flow to the affected areas and improving flexibility. In this way, massage therapy can improve your dog's comfort level and quality of life.

Additionally, arthritis can cause muscle pain as your dog compensates for his or her condition by limping and favoring some limbs over others. Massage therapy can help loosen and relax tense muscles.

What can you do to get massage therapy for your dog?

Take your dog to a specially trained canine massage therapist at a company like Downing Center For Animal Pain Management. Your local veterinarian, especially veterinarians that specialize in natural medicine, may have a massage therapist on staff. Contact your local veterinarian for more information or to make an appointment.

In addition, you can also massage your dog at home. This will maximize the benefit to your dog and may strengthen the bond between you and your dog.

What techniques should you use to massage your dog at home?

If you wish to massage your dog at home, take him or her into a peaceful, quiet room and encourage your dog to lay down. You may want to set up your dog's normal bed for this activity. Lay your hands on your dog's body and keep them there for several minutes. When you're ready, massage around the joints by kneading your dog's body gently with your fingers. If your dog shows signs of discomfort, stop the massage session. Use your thumb and fingers to make small circular motions on your dog's body in the areas around the joints. Do not press hard on your dog's body.

Next, use your hands to pet your dog's body in long, gentle strokes. Finally, use your finger tips to lightly "walk" along your dog's spine. Repeat each step several times. Your first sessions with your dog may last only a few minutes. You can increase the length of the sessions over time if your dog seems to enjoy them. To be sure that your techniques are correct, show your dog's veterinarian when you bring in your dog for the first massage therapy session. He or she can give you suggestions and show you the best places on the body to massage your pet.