FOR YOUR PET
BY EVA SHAW
IMAGINE IF YOUR furry friend knew about massage. Can you see those gorgeous, chocolate brown
eyes asking for a good rub?
For dogs with joint issues, anxiety problems or
flexibility- or age-related concerns, massage might
just be a doggie fountain of youth. According to
canine massage therapists, the simple stroking and
rubbing movements can leave your pooch feeling
happier, more relaxed and more adored.
It’s easy to learn
Lisa Ruthig, Costco member and director of
the animal program at Bancroft School of Massage
Therapy and chair of the National Board of
Certification for Animal Acupressure & Massage
nbcaam.org), says, “Massage helps us bond with
our pet on several levels, the simplest being through
shared touch. Massage consists of slow, deliberate
massage strokes that engage the brain system called
the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the
opposite of [the] fight-or-flight reaction. Massage is
excellent for nervous or anxious dogs.”
Ruthig adds, “I encourage owners with dogs
having fear issues to put out a mat every night and
do some massage with their dog. Your dog will
link the mat with a feel-good time to relax.” Taking
your dog on a road trip? Ruthig recommends
bringing that mat along to reduce potentially
Denise Theobald, a licensed massage therapist and the founder and lead instructor of
Canine Massage Chicago says, “In the beginning, find out what your pet likes. Various parts
of the body respond to different amounts of
pressure and speed.” She says you should always
watch to see what your pet is telling you.
It’s our time together
“With you and your pet in a comfortable
place, begin to give long, gentle strokes all over
your dog’s body,” explains Lola Michelin, Costco
member and owner of Northwest School of Animal
Massage, in Vashon, Washington. “Make this a
happy time. If you notice an area where your pal
pulls away, it could simply be a tickle spot. Give that
area your attention and perhaps bring up that con-
cern with your veterinarian. Massage is never an
alternative to veterinary care.”
Another benefit: Should you discover a lump or
sore area early on, you can get help for your dog way
before the situation might worsen.
You’ll likely notice there’s a special place your
dog especially likes to be massaged. For Zoey, our
rambunctious 6-year-old Welsh terrier, having her
ears massaged is as good as it gets. So I always end
the massage session with that.
Finish the massage by lavishing praise on your
best friend, telling your dog how incredible, smart
and clever he or she is. Hey, doesn’t your dog already
believe that about you? C
Costco member Eva Shaw ( evashaw.com) is a ghost-writer and author.
AS WITH human massage,
there are several techniques
and many ways to give a
canine massage. Michelle
Bame, owner of Caring
Canine Massage and Acupressure in Minneapolis,
offers a simplified routine
that is a good start for dog
owners who want to massage
their animal companion.
With your dog lying on a
cushioned mat and his head
facing away from you, open
your hands, thumbs touching, and place one hand on
each side of the neck. Curve
your fingers and use gentle,
circular motions as you count
to 10. Be gentle, just as you’d
prefer for your neck.
Move back to where the
skull joins the spine. With
your fingers, massage in small
circles as you count to 10.
With one hand on each side
of the dog’s body, begin at the
shoulders and move down
her spine to the tail using the
same circular movements. At
the tail, massage where the
tail joins the body. Some dogs
love this; others don’t. Let
your canine companion make
Now give attention to
Dog massage: More than a good rub
the legs. Depending on your
dog’s size, use one or both
hands to gently knead the
legs from shoulder to foot.
Foot pads can be massaged.
With your dog lying on
one side, run your hands from
head to tail in long, loving
strokes. Roll your pal over and
repeat on the other side.—ES
IN 4 EASY STEPS
A friend in knead
DO’S AND DON’TS
• Do make sure your dog is comfortable
on a yoga mat or cushioned surface.
• Don’t have massage time after a feeding;
it’s not comfortable on the tummy.
• Do watch for signs of agitation or discomfort.
That could mean a medical problem.
• Don’t use heavy pressure or knead deeply.
• Do talk to your dog.—ES
THE COSTCO CONNECTION
Costco warehouses and Costco.com offer a
variety of pet food, treats, beds and other items.
Costco pharmacies can fill most pet prescriptions.
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here to watch a
video with massage tips.
(See page 14 for details.)