Dog massage therapy is complementary to veterinary care and can enhance the general health of a dog or address a specific condition. Massage can support relaxation, stress relief, improve range of motion, help with healing of an injury, and provide pain relief. However, there are instances when massage is not appropriate or can be harmful to your dog. There are times and conditions when it is better to delay a massage or when massage for your dog is absolutely contraindicated. These are situations or times when we shouldn’t massage a dog at all or wait until you get medical clearance form your vet. Most of these are common sense, but they are critical to know. These are when not to massage your dog.
Conditions of Absolute Contraindication
- Your dog has a fever, above 102⁰ The average normal temperature for a dog is around 101⁰F (38.5⁰C). It is a good idea to find out what your dog’s normal temperature is as this can vary among different breeds and individual dogs.
- Your dog has been seriously injured and is in shock.
- Your dog has heat stroke.
- You dog has an infectious disease, especially in the acute stages, for example, the viral diseases distemper or influenza.
- Your dog has a skin condition of fungal origin such as ringworm, an infectious disease, or a bacterial skin disease. Massage can spread the infection and can be transferred to people.
- Your dog has an autoimmune disorder such as a problematic allergy.
- Your dog has tissue inflammation.
Contraindication Calling for a Delay for Massage
- Your dog has had a serious injury or surgery. Waiting for 48-72 hours or until you are given veterinarian approval.
- Your dog has a hormonal disorder, for example, Chushing’s or Addisons disease. Either of these diseases should be stabilized before massage.
- Your dog has experienced an acute trauma such as a torn muscle or ligament, a broken bone, or internal bleeding.
- Your dog has an open (broken skin) or healing, bleeding wound.
- During pregnancy, diarrhea or hernia, cautious massage with light stroking on the abdomen can be done.
- Your dog has suffered an acute sprain and has swelling.
- Your dog is having an acute arthritis flare up. With acute arthritis, it can be too painful to work directly on the affected joint and the inflammation of the affected joint can be aggravated with massage. However, light massage is effective for relieving aches and stiffness of chronic arthritis.
Massage can be beneficial in so many ways for your dog, but it is a complimentary modality and is not veterinary care. Consult your veterinarian if you have questions or doubt about any of these conditions mentioned.
If you have more questions about when to and when not to massage your dog, contact Mari Vogel at (919) 452-3467.