Your pet’s health is no joking matter. As humans, we know all too well the benefits of massage. So, do these same principals apply to animals? Of course they do! Pet massage as practiced by a qualified professional is grounded in real science – anatomy, kinesiology and psychology – and has practical applications for a pet’s physical and mental health.
Why Dog Massage?
Just like humans and other animals, dogs feel sore and develop stiff joints due to aging, inactivity or recent exertion, according to Lola Michelin, founder of the Northwest School of Animal Massage. Massage can help alleviate these symptoms, and usually starts with petting the afflicted areas to warm the muscles. Then the therapist will gently and repeatedly compress the muscles to pump fluids through the tissues and to relieve pressure on tendons.
Michelin says “regular massage throughout the life of your pet may help prevent the stiffness and pain that contributes to arthritis.”
What About Cat Massage?
Cats, naturally, are a little pickier about their massages. Maryjean Ballner, author of Cat Massage, suggests starting with a “voice massage,” which involves repeating an “endearing phrase” using “a soothing tone.” Then you let the cat get familiar with you by sniffing you. Finally, you start the actual massage, using similar techniques to the ones you’d use for a dog.
According to Ballner, cats benefit from massage in several ways:
Physiologically, massage stimulates the body’s nerves, muscles, circulatory system and lymphatic system. It enhances range of motion, increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells, relieves muscle spasms and helps to flush away toxic compounds, such as lactic acid, that cause pain.
You can learn quite a bit online, and there are even many pet massage videos on YouTube. But to be certified, you’ll need to be trained by one of the many pet massage schools.