Member of the
Canine Massage Guild


Contraindications to massage

The following are conditions, circumstances and situations that are contraindicated for massage, when massage to a dog should not be given, or should be adapted as appropriate.  If you have any concerns about any of the following, or anything else, please discuss these with us first :-

1. A dog with a temperature exceeding 104°F (39.5°C).

A dog’s normal temperature is around 101 – 102.5°F or 38.3 – 39.2°C.  An increase in temperature would indicate serious illness and would usually accompany other clinical symptoms such as lethargy, off its food, depressed, etc.  A dog with feverish conditions should be given complete rest and referred to a vet.  Massage would only worsen its condition by increasing an already accelerated blood circulation.

2. A dog that is dehydrated, fatigued, panting or out of breath.

3. A dog suffering from shock or that has just been involved in an accident.

The dog’s body will be adjusting itself and the pressure of massage could do more harm than good.

4. A dog suffering from Epilepsy.

5. A dog which has broken or fractured bones.

6. A dog suffering from heat stroke.

7. When there is an open (broken skin) or healing (bleeding) wound.

That particular area should be avoided, although massage to the remainder of the body may be beneficial to release compensatory tension or excess swelling.

8. When there is an acute trauma such as a torn muscle or an area with internal bleeding such as an acute hematoma following a strong blow.

Immediate veterinarian evaluation should be obtained.  Ice can be used in the acute phase, massage can resume in the chronic stage (after 72 hours)

9. Acute Sprain

10. Acute nerve problems or nerve irritation (neuralgia) in a particular area following a wound or a bad stretch.

11. During colitis, diarrhoea, pregnancy or hernias.

12. Tumours and cysts of cancerous origin are contra-indicated.

The affected area should be avoided but the rest of the body should be acceptable to massage.  Veterinary advice should be obtained.

13. Massage is formally contra-indicated for skin problems of a fungal origin such as ring-worm and bacterial skin disease, as massage may spread the problem.

14. Massage should also be avoided during the acute stage (the first 24 hours) of any infectious diseases to avoid spreading the problem.

15. Over areas of fresh inflammation.