What is stress?

Stress, as we generally know it, is a state in which an organism reacts to an internal threat and focuses its energies on coping with a dangerous situation. There's two kinds of stress: Eustress (good) and Distress (bad). Where there's distress, the result is there's no longer balance in the body.

What are some causes stress and fear?

  • Anxiety
  • Genetics
  • Breed
  • Influential periods as a puppy
  • Fear - response to a specific trigger
  • Phobia
  • Thunderstorms
  • Separation anxiety
  • Strenuous exercise/work
  • Fight, flight or freeze response
  • Increase in heart rate, blood pressure, release of cortisol
  • Environmental factors - temperature extremes/humidity/surfaces
  • Life stages - growing pains/ geriatric conditions

What are signs of physiological stress?

  • Nervousness
  • Tense muscles
  • Restlessness
  • Trembling/shaking
  • Overreaction
  • Defecation/urination
  • Teeth chattering
  • Self-grooming
  • Penis crowning
  • Appetite loss
  • Cheek puffing
  • Allergies
  • Bad breath/body odor
  • Whining/howling/dry panting
  • Compulsive behavior/circling/leash biting/pacing
  • Destructive behavior
  • Pain and disease
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor coat
  • Staring/glazing/dilated pupils
  • Displacement behavior
  • Excessive salivation
  • Tucked tail/low posture
  • Panting/fast shallow breathing
  • Sweaty paw

What are some signs of physical stress?

  • Refusing to go upstairs
  • Saliva stains on body
  • Refusing to sit or lay
  • Target touch sensitive
  • Refusing to pick up a toy
  • Inability to sleep
  • Stops/sits during walks
  • Hair loss
  • Incorrect posture
  • Braced legs
  • Shifting weight when sitting
  • Coprophagy (eating feces)
  • Falling/stumbling
  • Shallow breathing
  • Crabbing to one side
  • Reaching or hunching
  • Tail down/stiff
  • Head bob caused by pain, illness, or imbalance

What massage techniques are used?

  • Passive Touch
  • Effleurage
  • Compression
  • Petrissage
  • Friction
  • Percussion
  • Vibration
  • Rocking

Are There Contraindications of Massage?

There are contraindications and special considerations of massage. A Contraindication is a symptom or condition for which a certain remedy or treatment is not advised. Some contraindications include:

  • When dog is in shock - Get to vet immediately!
  • Open lesions or sores - Disease can spread to any open wounds.
  • Infectious Disease
  • Skin Conditions -Some dermatological conditions can be aggravated by massage.
  • Broken bones that aren't fully healed
  • Diarrhea
  • Circulation Problems
  • Pregnancy - Massage should not be applied directly over the abdomen or lower back where the puppies could be disturbed and labor triggered prematurely.
  • Acute inflammation - heat, redness, swelling
  • Neuropathy - Nerve pain
  • Pain medications - Reduces sensations where a dog cannot give feedback if a therapist inadvertently presses hard enough to cause bruising or nerve damage.
  • Heart Condition - The increased circulation from massage will cause the heart work harder.
  • Cancer - Massage will increase the flow of lymph fluid, possibly increasing the rate cancer cells spread.
  • Diabetes - Deep massage will increase circulation which will increase the rate that insulin and glucagon are exchanged, resulting in major blood sugar level fluctuations.
  • Epilepsy - Deep massage will impact the circulation and nervous system to the extent that an epileptic seizure may be triggered.
  • Fever - Massage will increase an already accelerated blood circulation. The immune system may not be able to regulate body temperature, and the infection could spread deeper in the body.
DISCLAIMER: Canine Massage is NOT a replacement for veterinary care! Any illness or injury your pet may have must be assessed by a veterinarian before receiving any form of massage therapy.


I am not a veterinarian. I do not diagnose, treat or prescribe.
Massage is not a replacement for proper veterinary care, nor will it cure diseases.
Massage will help to provide overall wellness and balance for your pet.