Frequently Asked Questions About Canine Massage

What can I expect from my dog’s first massage treatment?

Every dog relates to massage in their own way. When I meet with a canine client for the first time, my primary goal is to get to know the dog and develop a relationship with him or her. For some dogs, the first session may cause excitement or even anxiety. Your dog might not relax on the floor with me and receive a full body massage. That is totally normal! I believe in providing out-call massage in my clients homes largely because dogs tend to be most at ease in the comfort of their own homes. I usually work on the floor with my clients. Sometimes the whole family will sit on the floor, too, and encourage the dog to relax and enjoy the session. I work with some clients who are home alone during the day. Some dogs chew on a bone or stuffed animal, others snore through the session.

The initial consultation usually lasts between an hour and 90 minutes and every minute is time well spent. In future sessions, once your dog knows what to expect and recognizes the comforting and relaxing effects of therapeutic massage, your dog will utilize every minute necessary for him or her. Most importantly, we will find a setting and time of day that works for your dog.

How long are follow-up sessions?

After the first consultation, unless your dog experiences significant changes in his or her condition, sessions will last between 40-60 minutes.

How should I prepare my dog for a massage session?

Your dog will be able to enjoy the massage and experience optimal results if you follow these guidelines:

  • Identify a quiet and peaceful location in your home where your dog will be able to relax and focus on learning the skill of receiving a massage. If you are concerned about your dog shedding, feel free to provide a blanket for your dog to use.
  • If you talk to your dog as I do, tell them about their pending massage appointment – it can’t hurt!
  • Make sure your pup has gone potty before the session begins.
  • Schedule the massage at a time when your dog’s tummy isn’t stuffed with food.
  • Think about scheduling a massage at a time when you think your dog will be most relaxed.
  • Avoid scheduling your session while you are roasting a turkey or doing anything else that will fill your house with the scent of something your dog would love to devour.

What should I expect after the massage?

Massage can be an intense experience. Your dog will likely need to go potty and will want to drink a lot of water following the session. Some dogs may feel pain brought on by some of the more specific techniques used to address anomalies in the tissue. If your dog is already experiencing mobility problems, he or she may be less coordinated or tired in the short term. I often use essential oils with my canine clients. These oils can sometimes bring about subtle physical changes related to the release of toxins. Also, your dog will smell amazing!

These are all very normal responses to massage during the first 24 hours following a session. If these symptoms continue, there may be something else going on and a visit to the vet could be in order. If you have questions or concerns about your dog’s state after a massage, please don’t hesitate to contact me, too.

How frequently should my dog get a massage?

Every dog is different and they all present with their own unique set of conditions and circumstances. One goal of the initial massage session is to determine an appropriate care plan for your dog. A dog with a serious health condition, chronic pain or mobility issues may benefit from massage once or twice a week. A healthy, athletic dog might need a massage once or twice a month. Every dog is different and your dog’s physical condition will change over time, so we can decide together what is necessary and appropriate for your pooch.

Can I just massage my dog on my own?

Massage can strengthen the bond between you and your dog and pet parents who regularly massage their dogs are better equipped to identify physical changes and potential health issues early on. I am always happy to demonstrate specific techniques that are safe and appropriate for pet parents to try at home. Taking all of that into account, it is very important to work with someone who has been through training on canine anatomy and physiology, pathology, massage technique and other issues related to pet health and safety. Some techniques, when not administered by a trained professional can cause pain or injury. And while I'm on the topic of trained professionals, I highly recommend working with a canine massage therapist who has completed a minimum of 200 hours training in canine massage and is nationally certified by the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure & Massage (NBCAAM).

Can you diagnose an injury or illness?

As a canine massage therapist, I am not able to diagnose any injury or illness. My scope of practice is specifically limited to providing therapeutic massage techniques. Only a licensed veterinarian is permitted to diagnose your pet’s injury or illness. However, if I suspect your dog is experiencing a serious health issue, I will recommend that you schedule an appointment with your veterinarian or, in some cases, seek emergency care.

Are there times when my dog should not receive a massage?

If your dog is in an acute state and should really be at the doctor (think heat stroke, shock, vomiting and diarrhea, stroke or fever), massage is not recommended. Luckily, there are many options when direct massage is contraindicated. I am also a Reiki practitioner. Reiki is a powerful healing practice that involves gentle placement of the hands on the body. Passive touch, one of the oldest healing modalities, is another option that is appropriate in just about every situation because it literally requires the laying on of hands and the transferring of warmth and energy to your dog. If you have questions or concerns about your dog’s condition leading up to a scheduled appointment, reach out and we can discuss the appropriate next steps.

Money’s kind of tight right now. Do you have special discounts?

Every dog can benefit from therapeutic massage and I try very hard to make my services affordable so that canine clients in need can access my services. Please, never hesitate to ask me about special offers. In addition, when you refer a new client to Beloved Canine and they book an appointment, you get $5 off a session.

Is tipping customary for canine massage?

Providing a gratuity for your dog’s massage is not a requirement, but rather based on personal preference. Some of my clients tip 10-15% for each treatment while others do not provide a tip. It is totally up to you. Another great way of showing your appreciation for massage services is by telling your friends, family and co-workers about Beloved Canine and writing a testimonial for our website!