Dog Neck Massage

dog neck massage tableTo give you a better understanding of dog neck massage and how it can help your dog, let’s first review dog muscles and movement.

There are different types of muscles in the canine body and each has important functions.  The muscles responsible for movement, joint stability and posture are the skeletal muscles.

Correct body posture is essential for all of the different jobs a dog’s body does such as standing still, lying down, trotting or running.  Posture is maintained by the skeletal muscles making continual tiny adjustments. The contraction of skeletal muscles is responsible for movement.  Muscles pull on bones like levers to move the joints.  These muscles work with ligaments to stabilize joints and hold them in proper alignment.  Muscles also generate heat like a machine generating heat to perform its job. The heat released by working a muscle is essential for maintaining optimum canine body temperature.

Dog Neck Massage Relieves Stress and Maintains Flexibility

The head and neck play a vital role in a dog’s movement and good flexibility is important for performance.  Dog neck massage can really help an active dog relieve stress and maintain flexibility in skeletal muscles.  A dog uses his head and neck constantly to balance the rest of his body.  For example, the downward swing of his head during running helps lift his rear legs off the ground as he is moving forward.  The neck muscles are attached along the spine from the base of the skull down the cervical vertebrae to the thoracic vertebrae to the upper ribs and the scapulas.  These twelve unique muscles interact to induce different movements:

  • extension of the neck or bringing the head up,
  • flexion of the neck or bringing the head down between the legs
  • lateral flexion or turning the head to each side.

These muscles are very active and so a lot of strain can be put on them during different activities.  Consider how dogs twist, turn, and stretch their necks at play, while catching a Frisbee, playing tug of war, or chasing a ball or a squirrel.


Dog Neck Massage for Athletic and Working Dogs

dog herding sheepAthletic and working dogs can experience extreme stress on neck muscles.  Here are some examples of the activities after which a dog neck massage can help the relieve stress and burden put on neck muscles:

  1. Navigating the different agility obstacles
  2. Hitting the spring-loaded pad and turning sharply in fly ball
  3. Turning and twisting on a field to collect a flock of sheep
  4. Pulling in a harness for carting or weight pull

Any one or multiple of these muscles can become stressed and strained from overuse or injury.  When these muscles are tight, a dog can show discomfort by holding his head to one side, keeping his head lowered or resisting sideways motion to one side.  Also, when resting a dog will have a tendency to keep his head flexed to the side of the tight muscle.  There may be tightness and/or warmth in the area of stress. The dog may also pull away from touch.

Dog Neck Massage for Recovery

vet with small dogThere are different ways to help with the recovery of the strain and stress of neck muscles. Massage therapy is an extremely effective method alone or as a complement to a chiropractic or acupuncture treatment.  Massage is warming and relaxing, increases circulation, reduces swelling and soothes tired and achy muscles.  Massage can also reduce muscle spasm and interrupt the pain-spasm-pain cycle. Massage reduces muscle soreness and stiffness and softens superficial fascia and adhesions.

The neck muscles are critical for your dog’s proper and balanced posture and movement, whether for everyday activities or for performance competition.  Dog neck massage can help insure your dog is ready to perform any task.  Dog massage, in general, is a very effective method for keeping your dog balanced and feeling great.

If you have any questions about dog neck massage, canine massage, or the benefits of dog massage, please contact Mari Vogel at 919-452-3467.

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