When NOT To Get Your Dog Massaged
Updated: Apr 27
Ok so massage is great and we should all be so lucky as to have regular treatments - human and dog alike. However sometimes it can cause more damage than good so its important to know when its not ok to massage your dog and when extra care is needed.
* Advanced disease of the blood vessels, either atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis; thrombosis; shock; Infectious diseases - this includes fevers and other illnesses that can spread dog to dog or dog to human, skin diseases in particular as you don't want to hasten the spread in your own dog due to increased circulation.
* Malignant tumours - definitely check with your vet first. This used to be an absolute No, however recent human studies have shown that human cancer patients benefit from massage therapy and no spread of the cancer was indicated but follow your vets lead on this one. Massage will not cure the cancer but if its terminal some comfort and pain relief may be achieved.
* Check with your vet first and notify your therapist if your dog has heart, liver or kidney problems.
* Areas of acute inflammation should be avoided as increased circulation can result in more inflammation.
* Areas of haemorrhage and active haematoma (bruising) - gentle massage can later help to break down and reabsorb the haematoma but no massage in the first 48 hours following an acute injury.
* Sites of unstable fractures and open wounds should also be avoided - the rest of the dog can still receive massage safely.
* Dogs with sensitive skin or that have been on long term steroid treatment that may have left the skin weakened - proceed with caution as too much pressure could cause bruising.
* Aggression - if you know you dog can become aggressive its important to let your therapist know (or to take extreme care if massaging at home) as even during light massage you can encounter unexpected sore spots provoking a reaction. A muzzle may be required for such treatments as its important to be safe. Its always a good idea to muzzle train any dog with positive methods because even the gentlest dog can lash out if in pain and you never know when it might be needed. For example if your dog is injured and requires veterinary attention but needs to be muzzled for the safety of the staff wouldn't you prefer it if your dog was already comfortable with being muzzled and not have the extra stress of that being the very first time? Muzzles shouldn't have a negative association either to the human or the dog, they are simply a tool for keeping everyone safe.