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Post massage recovery tips for dogs

Tips to help your dog recover from a massage

14 Aug, 2018

After we experience a deep, remedial massage treatment, we often feel sore, our reflexes are slow, and we are lethargic and not enthused to work or exercise. Our dogs typically feel the same way after a massage treatment.

Massage therapy affects all the body’s systems particularly the musculoskeletal, nervous, circulatory and lymphatic systems. During a massage treatment, the compression and release of soft tissue (muscles and fascia) facilitates the release of adhesions and muscle knots, lubricates the fascia and muscles, and resets mechanoreceptors including proprioceptors.

Massage also stimulates the circulatory system to deliver oxygenated, nutrient rich blood to the body’s tissues, assisting the dog’s bodily systems and organs to work optimally. Improved circulation also facilitates improved venous return via the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system removes waste products from muscle and organ tissues including releasing oedemas and reducing inflammation.

As massage treatments have such a profound effect on the dog’s body which can last for 6 – 12 hours post treatment, it is advisable to follow these simple tips to help your dog get the most benefit from their massage.

Heat treatment

Depending on the duration and intensity of the massage, dogs may experience muscle soreness. In these cases, applying heat can maintain circulation to the affected area to remove waste substances and calm pain receptors. Heat may be applied in a number of ways depending on your dog’s tolerance and preferences:

  • Hot water bottle – A hot water bottle wrapped in a towel placed in the dog’s bed.
  • Warm towel – Warm a damp towel in the microwave and lay over the affected area or lay in the dog’s bed. Check the temperature before placing the towel on the dog.
  • Heat pack – Warm a heat pack and either apply directly to the dog or place in their bed.

Always monitor your dog when applying heat for signs of discomfort and to ensure they are not chewing the hot water bottle or heat pack.


In addition to potential muscle soreness, massage treatments may reset mechnoreceptors and proprioceptors. It is therefore advisable to rest dogs after a treatment to avoid the risk of injury from jarring movements, slips or missteps.

For active dogs, puppies or those living in a multi-pet household, resting them in their crates is advisable for several hours after a massage treatment to prevent any sudden or strenuous movements.

For dogs who are not crate trained, it is advisable to create a quiet space to allow them to rest. It also prevents them moving around and potentially injuring themselves. Keeping dogs on lead is another way to ensure they rest after a massage.


Post massage dogs should have access to plenty of water to help eliminate waste from the dog’s body. Access to the outdoors for regular toilet breaks is also required.


After a rest period, light exercise is advisable, after a massage. A short (10 minute) lead walk, combined with a toilet break is ideal. Light exercise keeps the dog’s circulatory and lymphatic system stimulated to continue delivering oxygen and nutrients to tissues and eliminating waste from muscles and organs.

Full Stride provides remedial massage treatments for dogs in Brisbane. Massage treatments are offered in dogs’ homes or at my clinic on the north side of Brisbane.

Until next time, enjoy your dogs.


Mori, H, Ohsawa, H, Tanaka, H, Taniwaki, T, Leisman, G & Nishijo,K (2004) “Effect of massage on blood flow and muscle fatigue following isometric lumbar exercise”, Medical Science Monitor, 10 (5) p173 – 178

Robinson, N.G & Sheets, S, (2015) Canine medical massage: techniques and clinical applications. American Animal Hospital Press, Colorado.

Waters-Banker, Christine (2013) “Immunomodulatory effects of massage in skeletal muscle”, Theses and Dissertations – Rehabilitation Sciences, Paper 18