Main Content

Scientific Research

Below you will find links to scientifically published articles that detail some of the recorded health benefits of massage therapy in animals. One thing that all the articles agree on, is that more scientific studies need to be done to further learn about all the health benefits of massage therapy. We at Tranquil Touch are in complete agreement. We would love to see further research into all the wonderful benefits of massage therapy on animals.

After over a decade of working on horses and dogs we have seen the benefits first hand. We have worked on horses and dogs with arthritis, laminitis, herniated discs, torn ligaments, sprained muscles, paralysis, soreness from competitions, and so much more. And we have seen remarkable improvement across the board. But anecdotal evidence is not enough, so we invite you to explore the following links and learn more about the scientifically documented benefits of massage therapy.


"The relationship between massage to the equine caudal hindlimb muscles and hindlimb protraction" published by C. Hill and T. Crook in Equine Veterinary Journal gave one group of horses a placebo procedure while another group received massage therapy. The horses who received the placebo showed no increase in stride, while "All horses showed a significant increase in the range of passive movement following massage." (p.685) This study concluded that "massage to the caudal muscles of the equine hindlimb, that is the superficial gluteal, semitendinosus, biceps femoris and semimembranosus muscles, significantly increases both passive and active hindlimb protraction." (p.685) Which was consistent with results of studies done in humans.


The clinical trial "Studies of the effect of massage on the flow of lymph from the foreleg of the dog" published by Ladd, Kottke, and Blanchard in Arch Med Phys Rehabil showed that "massage was significantly more effective in increasing lymph flow than passive flexion and extension of the forelimb or electrical stimulation of the forelimb musculature." This increase in lymph flow lasted for hours after the massage and resulted in more effective transportation of protein, particles and leukocytes from intercellular spaces into the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is an essential part of the animal's immune system. Lymph stagnation can result in arthritis, lethargy, joint pain, and more.


In "The Role of Manual Therapies in Equine Pain Management" published by DVM Kevin Haussler in The Veterinary clinics of North America. Equine practice the author states, "Clinically, massage and soft tissue mobilization are believed to increase blood flow, promote relaxation, reduce muscle hypertonicity, increase tissue extensibility, reduce pain, and speed return to normal function." However, he admits that more research needs to be done to further study its effectiveness. The author also mentions that much of what we know regarding manual therapies in horses, comes from our studies of humans. We do have studies that show massage therapy is effective in pain management in humans.


Multiple studies have been done on the effects of stress reduction during massage therapy in horses. "A Preliminary Study on the Effect of Massage to Reduce Stress in the Horse" showed a reduction in heart rate and an improvement in behavior. "Massage or music meant to be relaxing, result in lowering salivary cortisol concentration in race horses" showed that massage therapy and music reduced the horse's cortisol (stress hormone) levels. And finally, "The effect of relaxing massage on heart rate and heart rate variability in purebred Arabian racehorses" showed a reduction in heart rate and stress in horses who received massage therapy, as well as an increase in race performance!

Massage Therapy is not a substitute for proper veterinary care.