Evidence Based Peer-reviewed Research

“The findings from the first ever large-scale study into the efficacy of clinical canine massage on the treatment of pain have been published in Vet Record, the official journal of the British Veterinary Association (BVA). The study, a collaboration between the Canine Massage Guild and the University of Winchester, is the first of its kind to produce clinically verifiable evidence from a cohort of 527 cases.”


1. Effect of massage therapy on pain and quality of life in dogs: A cross sectional study


Clinical canine massage involves muscle tissue manipulation and fascial release techniques to rehabilitate injured soft tissues. Quantitative efficacy data are lacking. This cross-sectional study aimed to determine how dogs respond to canine massage therapy practiced by Canine Massage Guild UK practitioners.

“In 2018, case notes from a convenience sample of 527 dogs were shared, with permission from owners, by a self-selected sample of 65 practitioners. Changes in number and severity of issues for five pain indicators (gait, posture, daily activity, behaviour, performance) and quality of life score, reported by owner and practitioners, were investigated.


This cross-sectional study indicates canine massage therapy may effectively reduce myofascial and musculoskeletal pain severity reported by owners and practitioners associated with gait, posture, behavioural and performance issues and reduction in daily activities.

Although this is not a double-blind trial, and there is no control group, this study suggests massage therapy may be a valid treatment for myofascial and musculoskeletal pain typically derived from muscular injuries, arthritis/other orthopaedic conditions.

2. Effectiveness of combined acupuncture and manual therapy relative to no treatment for canine musculoskeletal pain

The demand for manual therapy and acupuncture medicine is increasing among dog owners, as is the number of Canadian veterinarians graduating from programs that teach these skills. The recently established specialty of veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation routinely employs both these techniques to address musculoskeletal disorders. There are veterinarians who perform manual therapy concurrently with acupuncture as part of their regular practice when treating musculoskeletal pain. Many, including the primary author of this paper, do so because they believe that the combination of these 2 modalities yields better results than they see with either therapy alone.


The purpose of this research was to determine whether CAMT has a therapeutic benefit relative to no treatment at all. 

In summary, there appears to be good support for the hypothesis that 1 or 2 sessions of CAMT provides immediate short-term improvement in dogs’ comfort and mobility, as demonstrated by owner observed changes in play behavior, walking, trotting, jumping, descending stairs, rising from a lying position, and stiffness after rest or following exercise.