Massage Dog’s Lymphatics for Their Health and Happiness.

Our most recent YouTube video topic is: Massage Dog’s Lymphatics for Their Health and Happiness.

It is on our PetMassage Training and Research Institute YouTube channel.  It is a little long, almost 10 minutes; and I think you’ll appreciate all the content that’s presented for you.

Here are the notes I made, preparing for the video shoot.

The Lymphatic System

An important part of the dog’s Autoimmune system.

What it is and why it’s important

The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body.

Where it is and how to identify it

Lymph Nodes: There are about 600 lymph nodes in the human body. Since the anatomy and physiology of dogs is similar, we can project that dogs would have about the same number. These nodes act as filters for foreign particles and cancer cells. Lymph nodes swell in response to infection, due to a build-up of lymph fluid, bacteria, or other organisms. This is swelling, lymphedema.

Locations of major nodes: Show where located, 5 main joints, thymus gland, spleen, and anterior spine.

How to move/drain/flush/ express lymph

Lymph nodes are just under the skin in the fatty tissue near the flexor sides of joints. Nodes are expressed as internal pressure changes. To alter pressures we just need to flex and extend limbs.

Demonstrate: Swing arms, lift knees, roll shoulders, turn head, bend from waist. All express the fluids in and around muscle attachment sites.

Demonstrate how little movement is needed to express lymph.

Lymphatic drainage to clear the supraclavicular area:

1 Begin by standing.

2 Cross your arms on your chest, with your hands resting just below the collarbones.

3 Then simply lift your elbows slowly. The muscle action is as much pressure as is required to prepare the area to flush lymphatic fluid.

Identify lymph nodes on dog

Show locations of major lymph nodes (5 main joints): submandibular, prescapular, axillary, inguinal, popliteal, along spine, plus thymus gland, spleen.

Moving lymph in PetMassage:

  1. Manual Manipulation:

Lift a limb, turn the head, mobilize the tail.

Assisted movement. Lifting shoulders and hips mobilizes the spine.

  1. Rocking is an Exercise that increases respiration. As the dog rocks out of alignment, they intuitively FLEX their muscles to stabilize their position. Working their flexors, expresses lymph.
  1. Increased respiration: Diaphragm acts to stimulate the spleen, the organ nestled up against it. The Diaphragm is called the lymphatic pump. It affects the pressure above it (lungs) and below it (intestines). Expressing the lymph from the spleen is one of the reasons you feel so good after exercise.
  1. Scratching-brushing with your fingernails, encourages the flow. Gentle redirecting movement of body water. Like swishing bath tub water.

Chase reflex

Demo: scratching dog.

Brush up over the lymph nodes toward the heart. The joints and muscle attachment sites are stimulated and the body water flows with your hands. It’s the body’s natural intuitive chase reflex. You are on the outside, the body water is on the inside; yet it follows the movement of your hands.


I hope you found value in this information about the lymphatic system. It helps to be able to visualize how things work so we can be more intentional in our PetMassage. Use this kind of visualization in every session, I feel that my massage is more thorough and directive.

I invite you to subscribe to our YouTube Channel: PetMassage Training and Research Institute and I look forward to teaching you in person at an upcoming workshop.

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