Clinical Canine Massage – A Load of Fluff?

Did you know muscle makes up 45% of your dogs body and up to 55% in a Greyhound.  That’s huge!

Superficial Muscle


Nothing moves in the body without muscle.  Not bones, not joints, not blood, not lymph, not oxygen, not digestive products …..

It is a common misconception that bones produce movement in the body.

Wrong!  It is the 700 muscles pulling on 320 bones which produces movement. 


Compare this to 650 muscles pulling on 206 bones in a human.

Considering the above facts it astonishes me that these powerhouses are overlooked when assessing the core health of an individual.  When you next choose which mode of therapy to try first please consider the above.

As muscle is so critical to the body clinical massage may just be the key to unlocking the reason for your dogs performance, mobility, gait, postural or uncharacteristic behavioural issues.


What is Clinical Canine Massage?

Unlike your superficial spa experience, Clinical Massage for dogs is a natural, non-invasive, complementary therapy involving the assessment and manipulation of muscle, fascia and scar tissue to resolve or manage pain, muscular dysfunction, muscle guarding, splinting, compensation and mobility issues.

In other words, by addressing areas of tension or tightness, myofascial pain, soft tissue restriction, strains, scar tissue, trigger points (knots) I am in a position to improve your dogs quality of life by to enabling them to move more freely and to do so in far less pain in just 1 – 3 sessions.

Did you know scar tissue can inhibit the movement of a muscle by a whopping 50%?

Massage is best applied as a regular treatment to maintain sound muscular health and is extremely effective when working with veterinary diagnosed conditions which cause pain, inhibit movement and affect gait, posture and quality of life such as:  

  • Arthritis,
  • Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Joint Disease),
  • Spondylosis,
  • Hip or Elbow Dysplasia,
  • IVDD
  • DM 
  • Syringomyelia
  • Luxating Patella
  • Cruciate Injury  (I have a great deal of experience in this area)
Skye having routine massage following cruciate surgery


The massage techniques I gained over an intensive 2 year Practitioner Programme and over many years in practice are human techniques adapted to canine physiology.  These include Swedish, Sports, Deep Tissue and Myofascial release, Lymphatic Drainage and Facilitated Stretch.  In addition I can offer neuromuscular facilitation and a specialist and very intricate set of techniques which takes care of the underside (ventral aspect) of your dogs body which is forgotten by many other schools of massage.

The handling of the canine client holds significant differences to human though.  Bigger teeth springs immediately to mind.

However, the most critical difference for you, as a responsible dog owner, is that before massage treatment can be applied Veterinary Consent is required by law (Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 and Exemptions Order 2015).

This law exists to protect you, your dog, your Vet and your Massage Practitioner.   

If anyone offers to perform any manipulative therapy on your dog without Veterinary Consent


How will you know if your dog has a musculoskeletal issue?

Here are some of the most common sub-clinical signs to help you:-

  • Recurring or intermittent lameness
  • Dog unable to ‘cock’ his leg to pee
  • Not able to toilet in one go
  • Lagging behind on a walk
  • Refusal to jump into the car, use stairs or ‘measuring’
  • Depressed or withdrawn
  • Refusal to play or go for walks
  • Twitching skin
  • Stiffness getting up or laying down
  • A change in tail carriage
  • Swayback or roaching
  • Defensive, evasive or unusual aggressive behaviour can also be key indicators of pain.
  • They may have lost their ‘sparkle’.
  • Uneven nail wear
  • Sporting / Working dog performance issues
  • Oh and that scratchy leg thing they do – Myofascial restriction!

 Here are four quick wins to help you to help your dog to avoid soft tissue injury:-

  1. Place rubber backed runners on your slippery floors
  2. Keep fur on pads and nails trimmed
  3. Use a ramp for the car
  4. Throw away the ball launcher!

I am also a CCA Licensed Canine Fitness and Conditioning Instructor and so offer a unique, tailored and complete muscular wellness package for your dog.

These 8 week programs are designed to systematically strengthen and re-balance your dogs core musculature to reduce the risk of muscular injury.

So, what do you think?  Is clinical canine massage a load of fluff?  Or will it be your first thought after a vet visit when you next see one of the sub clinical signs of pain?

For more information contact:

Please note: No complementary therapy replaces veterinary advice.
Your vet is the 1st person to call if you have concerns about the health of your pet.