If you’re a dog owner living in the capital, you know there’s no shortage of places to take your four-legged friend. But have you ever considered taking them for a dog massage in London? Hayley Miller from Paws and Restore is a resident clinical canine massage therapist at Love My Human Townhouse in Chelsea, and over the last few weeks, I’ve been seeing how dog massage therapy with Hayley could help Belinha as a 15-year-old senior dog.
Before we tell you about our experience, let’s understand a bit more about canine or dog massage therapy and its benefits…
Why canine massage therapy?
As any dog owner knows, our four-legged friends can suffer from the same aches and pains that we do. And just like us, they can benefit from a good massage. In fact, regular canine massages can help to reduce anxiety and stress, improve circulation, and increase flexibility for a start.
What are the benefits of a dog massage?
Like human massage, canine massage therapy is a form of physical therapy that uses touch to relax and heal the body. It’s no secret that massage feels good, but did you know that dog massage therapy can also provide health benefits?
From relieving pain and reducing stress to improving circulation and boosting immunity, dog massage therapy can play an essential role in pet wellness. For older dogs, massage therapy can help to increase flexibility and motion as well as relieve pain and stiffness from conditions like arthritis. It also helps bring nutrients to the muscles via the blood flow and remove toxins through lymphatic drainage. However, massage therapy is not just beneficial for senior dogs. For dogs of all ages, massages can help prevent injuries by keeping muscles and joints healthy.
Getting a dog massage in London…
Love My Human Townhouse or LMH Townhouse as it’s known, is a townhouse designed for dogs with a dog-friendly café downstairs and canine therapy rooms upstairs on the third floor. Resident dog wellness therapists like Paws and Restore offer holistic therapies such as Dog Massage Therapy, Acupuncture, Reiki, Dog Nutrition advice and more at LMH Townhouse.
We found being able to have Belinha’s dog massage sessions at LMH Townhouse a really relaxing experience as the therapy rooms are calm and inviting. If your dog struggles to walk up too many stairs, then you can also have your dog massage in the quiet room on the first floor as we did.
Plus being able to have lunch in the dog café downstairs after our session (with Belinha tucking into some treats from the dog menu) really makes it an experience to enjoy together.
Before our first dog massage
Before having our first dog massage, we needed to get a Paws and Restore Vet Consent Form completed to ensure the massage therapy wouldn’t adversely affect any treatment or conditions Belinha was having.
I was pleasantly surprised by how easy this was, even with Belinha’s recent health issues. Hayley emailed me the form, which I then sent to my vet and within 48 hours, I had the completed form in my inbox, which meant I could book Belinha’s first dog massage session!
What to expect from a dog massage with Paws and Restore
I wasn’t sure what to expect from our first dog massage, but Hayley was great at explaining things beforehand. Hayley recommends that owners stay with their dogs whilst they have the massage to ensure pups are as relaxed as possible, at least for the first time. Dogs should have had a walk and relieved themselves before the massage. Also, leave an hour or more between when they ate and the session as no one likes a massage on an overly full tummy!
The initial massage session will be about 1.5 hours and includes a full consultation, gait analysis, postural analysis, assessment via palpation and circa 40-50 minutes of massage. Follow-up sessions are then circa 1 hour in duration.
When we arrived, Hayley did everything to help Belinha feel relaxed. She let her choose from dog beds where she felt most comfortable and always had treats on hand for bribery.
As a member of the Canine Massage Guild and having studied canine anatomy and physiology as well as multiple different dog massage disciplines, Hayley could use various techniques including Red Light Therapy to assess and treat Belinha’s painful and tense areas.
It was fascinating to see how Belinha was sensitive to specific trigger points and her vocal reactions to touch in those areas. Sadly this meant she was probably in pain but stoically not showing it to my untrained eye.
To see Belinha then relax and, at times, fall asleep as Hayley worked her magic was incredible as I could see Belinha was really benefiting from the session.
Has massage helped Belinha’s mobility so far?
After the first session, Hayley warned me Belinha might be tired and even a bit sore for 24-48 hours, and I certainly noticed she slept like a baby for the rest of the day.
The next day I would say she could move around more easily. She also displayed other positive signs, such as panting less when lying down, which I now know could have been a sign of pain from her arthritis.
I also noticed that she would voluntarily go into a sit position with more ease, something she hasn’t done in a long time as she’s become stiffer.
As we’ve gone on to have more sessions, it’s a similar pattern each time; Belinha sleeps a lot after the massage. Then afterwards, walking and moving around seems more manageable for her and has even been more playful. I definitely think having a massage helps Belinha feel calm, rejuvenated and happier, which makes me very happy.
Would we recommend getting a dog massage in London with Paws and Restore?
Yes, absolutely. Hayley always gives Belinha the time and space to ensure she is relaxed during her sessions. In fact, there have been multiple times where poor Hayley has continued the massage under the table as that was where Belinha decided she wanted to be!
Often Belinha doesn’t like having her trigger points worked on. However, Hayley is always quick to try and put Belinha at ease by using a different technique such as red light therapy to tackle that area or coming up with a creative suggestion such as distracting Belinha with a LickiMat.
Fortunately, Belinha’s objections to having her trigger points worked on seemed to be instantly forgotten when presented with peanut butter on a LickiMat.
Hayley has also given me plenty of guidance on how to continue the benefits of the massage at home, which has been really helpful.
I should also mention again that dog massage is not just for senior dogs. Younger dogs or dogs with injuries can benefit immensely from canine massage; I only wish I’d started it much sooner for Belinha.
Hayley offers canine massage therapy at LMH Townhouse or in your own home if you are in Southwest or West London, Surrey or West Middlesex. For us, we thoroughly enjoy the ‘massage followed by dog café’ experience at the Townhouse so can highly recommend this.
A dog massage session in London with Hayley costs from £50 depending on the location for home visits or £68 at Love My Human Townhouse. If you’re interested in booking or have any questions about how dog massage could help your dog, contact Hayley via the Paws and Restore website.