Massages are wonderful. We crave them, we beg for them, and sometimes, we even get them. Your four-legged friend might be craving a massage too. Massage therapy has been integrated into and widely accepted as a supplement to traditional medical care for humans. Now the trend is entering the pet world.
Massage increases circulation and flushes out toxins in the body and your pet can enjoy similar benefits. “Any pet can benefit,” says Monica Self, a certified animal acupressure massage therapist. Just as in humans, she says massage helps the animal relax, promotes circulation, lowers blood pressure, and promotes wellness. “Massage for animals is a holistic, non-invasive, healing art that helps restore energy and wellness by balancing the body and mind of the animal and releasing emotional distress.”
There are a variety of massage types available for your pet. Just as with humans, a certified pet massage therapist can choose the method that will work best for your pet. Self says most massages are done in the pet’s home to make him/her more comfortable. At the initial visit, she will discuss the animal’s history and observe the relationship between the animal and caregiver. “I deal with the whole animal and I take time to talk at length with the owner about the food they get and how they relate,” says Self. “There’s quite a bit of history and detail taking with the first appointment because it’s important.”
To begin the therapy, Self will first “warm up” the animal with a gentle touch to assess areas of concern and then she will begin the massage. “My training includes specifics of the acupuncture meridians but instead of needles, acupressure points are touched and stroked as needed,” she says. Session times vary, but usually last about 45 minutes.
There are many different ways massage therapy can help your pet. “Environmental factors can cause pets to be emotionally stressed,” says Self. “Massage takes up the slack and helps the animal heal itself.” She says pre-event and post-event massages can loosen muscles, prevent injury, and promote agility in sporting dogs. In addition, massage can reduce the growing pains in large breed puppies. And massage can also help pets in their last stage of life by making them more comfortable.
Both people and pets can benefit from a good massage. Although a single massage is great, the effects of massage can be cumulative. Massage can restore humans and their canine companions physically, mentally, and spiritually.