How Massage Helps Our Canine Friends

People often explore many different avenues of health, from prescription medication to diet and exercise plans to alternative and holistic options. Why not do the same for our animals? This winter, we will be featuring articles from Melanie Hampton, owner of Serenity Pet Massage. Melanie will share information about alternative treatment options for pets that she uses in her practice.

In this article, Melanie gives examples of dogs she has treated using canine massage and how each pup benefitted.

Canine Massage

Massage helps alleviate pain when our dogs are suffering from arthritis, hip dysplasia, spondylosis, elbow dysplasia, torn cruciate ligaments, medial patella luxation, limb amputation, and many other ailments. What follows are specific examples of dogs I’ve treated using canine massage.


Stella is a four-month-old puppy with anxiety issues. Two days before our next scheduled session, she was playing on her owner’s bed and took a tumble off of it. Their veterinarian diagnosed her with a neck strain. They put her on anti-inflammatory and pain medications. As soon as I walked into the house, I knew something was wrong. She was very stiff and not moving her head much. Her mom explained what had happened, and after checking her range of motion, I began working on her. At the end of her session, full range of motion in her neck had returned. Less than five minutes after I left, her mom sent me a text that Stella was running around in the backyard like a puppy again!


Atlas is a tripod that I massage on a monthly basis. His right front leg was amputated when he was a puppy, and he’s been diagnosed with hip dysplasia. Massage helps his muscles compensate for his altered gait due to his missing limb. His mom always reports back to me after his massage that he is more relaxed and in less pain and that he has an easier time moving around.

Massage for Senior Dogs

I’ve recently received several calls from pet parents wanting massage for their senior dogs. Honestly, I love getting these calls because I really enjoy working with geriatric pets. To be able to offer a multi-modal approach for pain relief is so rewarding, and these dogs truly understand and appreciate my touch.

As I begin massaging and kneading their muscles, I can feel them relax under my hands and give a deep sigh of relief as their whole body begins to respond to my ministrations. They are very good at letting me know where it hurts the most so I can focus extra attention to that area. Quite often there is improvement in their gait after the first massage session. What follows is a few examples of senior dogs I’ve treated with massage.


Sam is an 11-year-old golden retriever who suffers from arthritis pain. He’s on anti-inflammatory medication, but his owner is concerned about his pain level and decreased mobility. After his first session, he came bouncing out of the room, running up to his mom. She was thrilled by his energy level and the fact that he was holding his head up for the first time in months.


Maggie is a 12-year-old lab who was having difficulty standing up straight in her rear legs. Her gait analysis showed a slope in her lower back with her knees bent and unable to straighten. When I was working on her, I found several hypertonic (abnormal tension), reactive areas in her back connecting to her hips and legs. When dealing with muscle discomfort, it’s helpful to remember that everything in the body is connected. During her massage, Maggie fell into a deep state of relaxation. The next day her mom sent me a picture of her standing nice and straight! She was even going up and down the stairs unassisted again.


Charlie is a 12-year-old lab who was diagnosed with hip dysplasia at three years of age. Recently he was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his neck and arthritis along his spine. He cannot lift his head up without pain and has weakness in his right front limb, which causes him to “knuckle under” at times. He had a considerable amount of hypertonicity in his neck, along with some restrictive areas around his shoulder blades and upper spine. He was very relaxed during his massage session, allowing me to work on his entire body. His mom sent me a text message later that day letting me know that Charlie had actually wanted to go for a short walk and was holding his head up without pain.

Our best friend’s health and companionship is priceless!

Melanie Hampton

Serenity Pet Massage
Registered Veterinary Technician
Certified Canine and Equine Massage Therapist
Healing Touch for Animals – AP® and Reiki Practitioner
Certified Pet Food Nutrition Specialist
Pet Tech Instructor
Certified Canine Kinesiology Tape Practitioner

(919) 436-3306

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