The Benefits of Canine Massage Therapy

Canine massage therapist Shelbey Poirier helps her clients be more limber, flexible and relaxed.

Shelbey Poirier and her dog Freyja. Photograph by Jared Sych.

Like massage therapy for humans, there are numerous benefits to our canine companions from the pushing and pulling motion over their furry frames. “A lot of people think that dogs just live their life and they can get through anything, but sometimes they need that little extra help,” says canine massage therapist Shelbey Poirier.

Poirier ended up in her chosen field because she wanted to comfort her dog who had developed mild hip dysplasia and arthritis, and had a double knee operation. After taking an online “Petting with a Purpose” course, Poirier quickly realized her new skills could help other dogs as well. She received her certification through Holistic Animal Studies. Now close to two years into the occupation, Poirier has found massaging not only helps the dogs, but also her own mental health. Getting into a calm headspace is essential to the process, as she says dogs can be very sensitive to her energy.

As with humans, Poirier says that massages benefit her canine clientele both mentally and physically. “Some dogs can have anxiety and some dogs can be a little hyper, so a relaxation massage is good for that,” she says. “If they’re sporting dogs, it can also keep their muscles limber. So whenever there’s mobility issues, lack of flexibility, or if there’s some pain, [including] arthritic pain, a massage can help.

“It’s not the total panacea, but it is a modality to use in conjunction with vet care.”

Shelbey Poirier offers massages through private practice and is working to become a feline certified massage therapist, as well. She can be contacted by email at

Photograph by Jared Sych.

Learn more about the people and organizations moving Calgary forward with Avenue's Innovation Newsletter.

This article appears in the January 2022 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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