Benefits of Pet Massage
Pets need massages too!
Pat Head Summitt
GABRIEL BIENCZYCKI/ZEBRA VISUAL
Massage can have great health and psychological benefits for pets of all ages, size and breed. Whilst there are some professionals trained in pet massage, it is something that you can do daily, easily and at no cost at home to improve your pets wellbeing.
Massage has a variety of benefits from the mechanical effect on the soft tissues. It helps to relieve muscle tension, decrease pain, stimulate circulation and improve lymph flow. Massage may also help to lower blood pressure, improve immune function and stimulate digestion. It helps to reduce stress in anxious pets and massaging your own pet can help to improve the bond between you and your pet.
Massage is particularly beneficial for pets with arthritis, muscle stiffness and those recovering from injuries. It helps to maintain mobility and flexibility in pets that need to be confined after surgery or due to injury. Working and competitive dogs will benefit from massage to help to prevent injury and improve recovery.
Whilst there are specialised pet massage techniques, you don’t need any training to start massaging your pet. Treat your pet as you would do a human. Work along the lines of the muscles and pay special attention to areas where the muscles feel stiff and tense. Common areas of tension are the neck, lower back, lumbar area and also the triceps muscles (back part of the upper arm). You need to start very gently and not cause any pain or discomfort to your pet. For some pets, especially cats and frail dogs, very little pressure is required.
Our pets are super lucky as every pet has an owner who can be their own personal live-in masseur! The benefits do go both ways as whilst you massage your pet you may find your own stress levels reducing and blood pressure dropping. If you would like guidance on how to best perform massage techniques for your pet find a vet or therapist with an interest in massage or physical therapies to help you.
Dr Aish Ryan is a veterinarian, pet owner and pet lover. She runs Vets at Home mobile veterinary clinic in Melbourne. She loves her job and making vet care easier for pets and their owners. Preventative care is a strong focus of her visits and house calls give her more time to get to know her patients and their owners. She combines western medicine with acupuncture, tui na massage, food therapy and lifestyle advice for optimum care.
Dr Aish shares her life with 3 fur babies, 1 dog and 2 cats. Her day doesn’t feel like it has started until her dog has been walked. At night she turns quietly on the bed so she doesn’t wake the cat. She thinks we can all learn a lot about the important things in life from our pets.