Just like their human owners, pets endure their share of illness, injuries, bumps and bruises throughout a lifetime. Even long after the trip to the vet, they may suffer from negative side effects such as bad posture, poor blood circulation, and overall muscle stiffness and soreness.
Everyone knows a good massage can have you feeling fit and well again for days after, so why wouldn’t that work for your pet? Pet massage, otherwise known as Myofunctional therapy, benefits even the healthiest of pets, enhancing their performance and improving their overall well being and vitality.
Benefits of Pet Massage
Pet massage can benefit your animal physically, emotionally and mentally. Some of these include:
- Improved blood circulation
- Improved Muscle maintenance
- Decreased muscle pain
- Decrease of stress hormones in the body
- Increased flexibility
- Increased energy levels
Pet massage also has an immediate, relaxing effect on your pet and is the perfect opportunity for you to bond with your pet.
Massaging Your Pet
A pet massage professional is always best to consider when your dog has health problems. If however you would prefer to administer the massage yourself, there are a number of pet massage books and dvds on the market that offer easy to follow instructions.
How to Give a Pet Massage
A pet massage doesn’t really differ in technique to that given to humans. Techniques commonly used include:
- Applying long, slow strokes
- Pressure point application (without moving the skin)
- Using the hands and fingers in a drum-like manner
- Kneading with the hands.
You may also like to apply pressure to acupressure points (if you’re familiar with them) and give your pet a complete body massage.
Tips for Pet Massage
Lie your pet on a hard surface to prevent him or her from twisting around in an unexpected way during the massage.
- Start with long, strokes from top to tail and back again.
- Softly stroke or scratch between the eyes, on the nose, under the neck, across the cheeks and at the back of your pets ears.
- Gently pinch the rolls of loose skin as you massage over the back and neck of your pet.
- Use three fingers to massage the side of each leg in a circular motion.
- If your pet is comfortable with it (some are not), you may gently give the paws an extended squeeze.
- Without pulling, squeeze the tail firmly, pulling it up from the base to the tip.
- Complete the massage with long, slow strokes again from top to tail
Caution When Massaging Your Pet
When massaging your pet:
- Only massage when you're pet is comfortable with it.
- Never massage a pet you don’t trust or know.
- Avoid any pulling in sensitive areas such as your pets whiskers, tail, fur and ears.
- Avoid any pressure to the abdomen, as it may cause your pet to feel sick or cause damage to internal organs.
- Watch you pet’s reaction to the massage, as not all pets will enjoy massage.
- Stop the massage immediately if your pet starts to growl, snarl, flinch, yelp, nip, flatten their ears, twitch their eyebrows, hold their breath, roll their eyes, tense or look at you from the side.
And please remember; keep the massage gentle and light. All deep tissue massages should be done only by a trained and certified pet massage practitioner you trust.