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What is Clinical Canine Massage?

Clinical Canine Massage is a hands-on therapy that helps restore, maintain and enhance your dogs musculoskeletal system. It is a form of remedial bodywork, which can help rehabilitate soft tissue injuries and joint issues. It can provide relief whilst helping to resolve many day to day mobility issues  which you may see as lameness and limping. It can also help to significantly support Orthopaedic conditions such as Arthritis and Hip/Elbow Dysplasia and helps senior dogs with their mobility and pain management. 

Canine Massage is an effective therapy to recondition dogs muscles and helps improve the performance of sporting dogs including companion events such as agility, canicross, flyball and obedience and performance events such as mushing, field trials and herding. 

Using skilled canine massage techniques such as Swedish, sports, deep tissue and myofascial release, and performing direct manipulation of muscle and fascia; painful debilitating ‘knots’ (trigger points) that cause referred pain are released and scar tissue and adhesions can be broken down, improving your dog’s flexibility, mobility and comfort levels.

Massage improves the dog's gait, posture, performance and behaviour, with results usually visible in one to three sessions.

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Does your dog need a Massage?

Do you have concerns about your dog’s mobility and /or behaviour?

Dogs can be in pain for a variety of reasons, be it injury or illness. But dogs are very stoic animals and hide their pain very well, so it’s important to learn to recognise even the most subtle signs of pain. While sudden injuries are likely to grab your attention right away, little tweaks might go unnoticed for months.

The table below which classifies The Five Principles of Pain is a useful aid for identifying symptoms of musculoskeletal conditions that could be helped by clinical canine massage.

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If you think your dog has any of the above then maybe massage therapy can help your dog live a more comfortable and active life

If you would like to find out how massage therapy can help your dog, or you would like to book an appointment, please get in touch

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How your dog will benefit from Canine Massage

Canine massage improves a dog’s mobility, helps with their pain management and improves their activity levels. 

Canine massage can benefit your dog in a number of ways, including;

  • Reduces pain and discomfort

  • Helps to resolve soft tissue injuries

  • Helps with muscular issues

  • Supports orthopaedic conditions; arthritis, hip/elbow dysplasia, luxating patella, cruciate ligament tears

  • Improves the quality of life for dogs suffering from neurological conditions; CDRM, IVDD

  • Encourages a faster recovery from injury and operations

  • Enhances performance in the canine athlete; agility, canicross fyball

  • Support for senior dogs

  • Support for over-weight dogs

  • Helps with anxious/nervous dogs

  • Improves gait and posture

  • Emotionally and psychologically ‘lifts’ the dog

  • Increases range of motion in limbs

  • Improves flexibility and elasticity of muscles

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Improvements you may see in your dog

Some of the results you may see in your dog following massage therapy treatment; 

  • Improved mobility

  • Happy to go on walks again

  • Reduced stiffness

  • Regain their zest for life

  • Improvement in their movement

  • More social with people and/or other dogs,

  • An improvement in vitality, wanting to play

  • Improved performance in activities such as agility, canicross and flyball

  • Able to do things they once did such as jump in and out of the car,

  • More willing to be petted, groomed or be touched

Canine massage: About

Conditions benefiting from Canine Massage

There are numerous soft tissue injuries, Orthopaedic and Neurological conditions that can be rehabilitated with Clinical Canine Massage.

Click on the relevant link if you wish to find out more

Canine massage: Welcome

Soft tissue injuries and muscular issues

It is almost inevitable that at some point, your dog will experience a muscular injury or issue. Many muscle, tendon, ligament and fascia injuries go undetected or receive inadequate treatment. Some of these conditions are regarded as insignificant and are often written off as meaningless by everyone but the dog!

Whilst sporting activities can cause obvious muscular issues and injuries, it is often normal everyday activities such as those listed below, which can cause the most problems.

Ball chasing

Slipping on laminate flooring

Playing with another dog

Repetitive motions when taking part in events such as agility, flyball and heel work

Repetitive everyday activities such as going up and down the stairs

Sudden turning, excessive stretching and sudden braking

Dogs can suffer from a variety of soft tissue conditions/injuries, the most common of these conditions are listed below;

Trigger Points

Myofascial Pain

Muscular Spasms




Scar Tissue


Muscle Splinting

Clinical canine massage therapy specialises in the rehabilitation of soft tissue and muscular injuries

Canine massage complements veterinary care and works well in combination with hydrotherapy and physiotherapy in treating soft tissue injuries.

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What you may see as an owner

Soft tissue injuries can be painful and debilitating to the dog if left untreated. They can have a negative impact on their quality of life, range of motion and flexibility in their joints, lower their energy levels, increase the risk of injury and change the dog’s overall mood.

You may notice very subtle changes such as:

  • Lameness/Limping – gait irregularities

  • Excessive licking of joint or limbs

  • Stiffness of joints

  • Exercise reluctance

  • Difficulty going up and down stairs; getting in and out of the car

  • Old before their time – slower on walks

  • Twitching down their back or roached back

  • Yelping when you touch certain areas of the body

  • Loss of performance in competitive dogs

Please also see how to tell if your dog needs a massage.


How Massage can help a dog with a soft tissue injury

Therapeutic Canine Massage can provide enormous benefits to dogs who are suffering from soft tissue injuries and muscular conditions.  

Clinical Canine Massage:

  • Influences  the tone, length and structure of the muscle

  • It eliminates trigger points or ‘knots’ which cause severe discomfort or pain and restrict the muscle’s flexibility

  • It relaxes and stretches muscles

  • It reduces muscular tension and cramps

  • It helps to relax hypertonic muscles 

  • It helps to resolve hot spots caused by inflammation; adhesions caused by over-exertion and over use

  • It aids in the repair of torn or ruptured muscles

  • It drains lymphatic fluid from the muscles which causes swelling

  • It breaks down  areas of scar tissue that affect how the muscle should work which cause restrictions

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Orthopaedic conditions

Clinical canine massage is a very successful therapy for  treating orthopaedic conditions.


When a joint is diseased, extra support is required from its associated muscles. This typically leads to the recruited muscles being overused, leading to  chronic pain, muscular and fascial dysfunction. This can cause muscle splinting (over-compensation) and manifest as hypertonicity, muscle atrophy, (muscle wastage), strains, trigger points and hyper-irritable myofascial pain, causing a reduction in mobility and poor range of motion of the joints.  More muscles then begin to overcompensate, whilst others can become atrophied,  due to lack of use. The result is a continuing cycle of pain.

There are many reasons that your dog may develop an orthopaedic condition, some examples include;



Poor conformation


Any problem with the bones, joints, or muscles can be considered an orthopaedic problem. Some of the more commonly seen orthopaedic conditions that are seen in dogs include; 


Hip dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia

Luxating Patella


Cruciate ligament tears ACL or CCL 


What you may see as an owner

The symptoms of orthopaedic disorders in dogs will vary somewhat depending on which underlying condition is responsible. However, the conditions often have several symptoms in common. Frequently seen symptoms of orthopaedic disorders may include:

  • Lame or abnormal gait, sometimes intermittent

  • Lethargy

  • Loss of appetite

  • General slowing down or stiffness

  • Swelling  and creaking of the joints

  • Difficulty getting up from lying position

  • Yelping and crying when touched in certain areas

  • Difficulty getting up and down stairs or from furniture

  • Behaviour changes; they may become anxious or depressed, signs of aggressive behaviour

  • Muscle spasms

  • Loss of proprioception (body awareness) in the limbs resulting in stumbling or falling


How Massage can help a dog  with an Orthopaedic condition

Clinical Canine Massage;

  • Helps to break this cycle of pain by addressing the primary muscle stress around the affected joint(s) and the secondary areas of overcompensation.

  • Improves the range of motion in the joints.

  • Influences the production of endorphins, the bodies' own highly effective pain killer

  • Increases circulation

  • Improves lymphatic drainage and reduce oedema (swelling) which is particularly important for dogs on restricted exercise.

Canine massage: Services

Neurological conditions

Neurological conditions in dogs can be acquired, idiopathic (no known cause), or inherited. Some neurological problems are specific to a particular size of dog, for example, Wobbler’s Syndrome (cervical spondylomyelopathy) is mostly seen in large breed and giant dogs – while other problems are typically found in certain breeds, such as Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) in Dachshunds and chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy (CDRM) in German Shepherd dogs.

Some  neurological conditions are listed below;

Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyelopathy (CDRM)

Cauda Equina Syndrome

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

Vestibular Syndrome

Cervical Spondylomyelopathy (Wobblers Syndrome)


What you may see as an owner

Dysfunction of the nervous system can cause loss of motor and autonomic function and produce a wide-range of symptoms. Many of these signs are not specific to Neurological disorders, and if you suspect there is a problem, then you should always seek professional Veterinary advice.

Symptoms of Neurological conditions may include:

  • Ataxia (lack of coordination)

  • Limb weakness

  • Decreased activity

  • Loss of sensation (analgesia)

  • Heightened sensitivity to stimuli (hyperesthesia)

  • Abnormal sensations (paresthesia)

  • Incontinence

  • Wastage of muscles (atrophy)

  • Loss of strength and/or balance

  • Knuckling over often causing wear on toes and nails

  • Dragging legs

  • Postural misalignment

  • Impaired mobility

  • Seizures

  • Vision loss


How Massage can help a dog with a Neurological condition

In many cases neurological conditions are degenerative, meaning that the symptoms will progress and get worse over time. However, Clinical Canine Massage can dramatically improve the quality of life for your dog.

Clinical Canine Massage:

  • Addresses areas of overcompensation; encouraging weight bearing on all four limbs so that all limbs are used equally which will minimise the risk of issues occurring in the other limbs 

  • Improves circulation

  • Improves lymphatic drainage

  • Improves  range of motion in the joints and improves flexibility of the limbs

  • Releases endorphins that can also interrupt pain signals, providing comfort and relief from the pain associated with their condition

Canine massage: Services
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