Tired and aching humans have been using massage therapy to de-stress and unwind since ancient times. But veterinary science has evolved to include holistic care for cats and dogs too, and more of our four-legged friends are hopping up on the massage table for treatment.
Read on to learn about the benefits of cat and dog massage and why it’s becoming so wildly popular.
Pet Massage 101
Unlike massages for humans, cat and dog massage requires no undressing or messy oils. All that’s needed is the intent to heal, an ability to transmit love through touch, and a knowledgeable, experienced pet massage therapist. The body structure of felines and canines is relatively smaller than their two-legged friends, so even the largest dog requires a lighter touch and shallower strokes than people do. The length of massage sessions are typically up to 60 minutes for dogs and a maximum of 30 minutes for cats, and frequency of visits to your pet’s therapist will be based on his physical condition and objectives (physical or behavioral) of the sessions. Although pet massage tables are now being marketed, all that’s really necessary is a comfortable but firm surface like a floor and a pair of skilled hands.
Benefits of Pet Massage
Besides making your pet feel great, cat and dog massage also “improves their health and prolongs their lives,” according to Amy I. Attas, V.M.D. Specific benefits include promoting toxin release, enhancing the body’s ability to remove metabolic waste, increasing oxygen to the cells, improving range of motion and flexibility and revving up blood and lymph circulation. These processes are set into motion when massage therapy releases the body’s own endorphins, which are natural painkillers and relaxants. Upon the completion of a pet massage therapy session, your cat or dog will experience a greater sense of wellbeing and improved general health.
Health Problems Improved With Massage
Dogs and cats recovering from an injury or medical procedure heal faster when receiving professional pet massage to increase their circulation. The process speeds essential nutrients to cells and tissues. As pets age, their parts wear out and they can develop arthritis, hip dyplasia or stiff muscles—all of which can be aided with pet massage sessions. Muscles that have atrophied and cause painful movement slowly come back to life from being re-sculpted, gently stretched, and manipulated by the hands of a professional. Canines and felines suffering from muscle spasms and soreness experience pain relief and calming of their tissues into a more relaxed state. Pet massage addresses the whole body system, making it work better, says Pam Holt, owner of Buddha Dog Animal Massage.
Typical Massage Therapy Fees
Most Certified Animal Massage Therapists (CAMTs) charge rates that are comparable to those that humans pay for therapeutic massages. Fees vary according to the individual therapist and area of the country where services are provided. Many CAMTs will offer a discount for multiple pets and packages of services. In general, unless you learn how to massage your cat and dog yourself, you will pay for the time and experience of your provider.
No, that is not a typo. TTouch is short for Tellington TTouch Training, a pet massage therapy method developed by Linda Tellington-Jones, an internationally recognized animal expert. Along with therapeutic massage consisting of slides, lifts, and circular touches, TTouch also includes movement exercises and specific pet harnesses. Besides helping with physical problems such as those inherent with aging or car sickness, TTouch also improves troublesome behavior such as excitability and nervousness, debilitating fear or shyness, excessive chewing and barking and aggressive behavior.
Disclaimer: As with any new practice focusing on your pet, check with your veterinarian first to see if pet massage is right for your furry friend.
Image: Courtesy ivva via Flickr Creative Commons