Vet Hansel answers your questions about pet care in this weekly advice column, created in partnership with the Bahrain Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA). It will also be highlighting each week some of the animals in the BSPCA sanctuary, in the hope of finding each of them a loving home.
Question: What are the benefits of massage for dogs?
Answer: Massage therapy for animals is a touch technique used to maintain and improve physical and mental health.
Animal massage causes your pet’s body to release endorphins, natural chemicals that relieve pain and make your pet feel good.
Massage can strengthen the bond between you and your pet. A good massage can help any dog reduce anxiety and it’s a proven stress-reliever; any dog can benefit from that.
You might find it particularly helpful if your dog is easily worried or stressed; a nightly massage can help to relax him and establish a comforting routine.
Another important aspect is improved blood circulation which helps the entire body with its day to day functioning.
Dogs with arthritis can benefit greatly from this practice. The act of pressuring and releasing muscles causes blood flow to increase, which heals and benefits your dog’s entire body.
However, proceed slowly at first, as a massage may be somewhat foreign to your dog.
Chances are, once your dog realises how good a massage feels, he’ll come to look forward to the treatment, and will associate you with being the one who provides it.
How to massage your dog:
Have your dog lie down on a soft but firm surface; no pillows or cushions – that may cause the dog to twist or bend in unexpected ways.
Start with soft, slow strokes from head to tail.
Scratch behind the ears, rub along the cheeks and under the chin, over the nose, between the eyes. Always use light pressure and small, circular strokes; nothing fast, hard or abrupt.
When you move to the neck, shoulders and chest, it’s perfectly fine to gather small folds of loose skin for a gentle pinch. You can use three fingers on each side of the leg, too, rubbing softly in opposite directions. You can even give the paws a prolonged and gentle squeeze, if your dog is comfortable with having his or her feet handled (not all are).
Walk your thumb and index finger down the length of the spine; not on the spine, but along the long muscles on each side.
End with those long, slow strokes again.
Throughout the massage, take your time. When your dog is ready for it to end he’ll make it clear, usually by becoming restless or unco-operative; stop immediately.
Dr Hansel is a veterinary consultant and surgeon for the BSPCA and Charis Vets. Please send your questions to email@example.com
BSPCA’S DOG OF THE WEEK IS NIKA
Age: Two years, eight months
Nika is very active, excitedly greeting her visitors during the dog walk. But familiar faces will automatically make her sheepishly calm down and welcome her guests with open arms. Nika never fails to entertain the volunteers with her antics and because of this she is one among their favourites. She looks forward to their visits and had always wished that one of them would give her the forever home she has long been waiting for. Nika is neutered, tick treated and fully vaccinated.
BSPCA’S CAT OF THE WEEK
Age: Six months
Donnie is a soft-haired, playful and curious cat who is always mindful of the activities and happenings in the cat house. Every bit of noise such as door openings and creaking windows will make him stand up even while asleep. He has become the “watchman” of the shelter, constantly on the look-out. He has a handsome face and an affectionate character. He might have an intense look to him but he is a real sweetheart and a joy to be with. Donnie is neutered and fully vaccinated.
If you are interested in adopting Nika, Donnie or any of the shelter’s cats, kittens, dogs and puppies, please visit the Animal Welfare Centre in Askar. From the Alba roundabout take the road sign posted Askar and Durrat Al Bahrain and at the third signal take a right on to the truck road and after approximately 800m you will see the shelter on the right side, just before the flyover. Or, log onto the website www.bspca.org for directions. The shelter is open seven days a week from 9am to 5pm from Sundays to Thursdays and 9am to 1pm on Fridays, Saturday, and public holidays. The shelter accept animals 24 hours a day, seven days a week.