With massage we can loosen a joint that is too tight, and tighten a joint that is too loose.
What happens during an animal massage?
I start by asking you for a short medical history of your animal, including questions such as: Is there any part of the body that your pet doesn’t like to have touched – ears, face, paws? Have they been diagnosed with hip dysplasia or a luxating patella? These answers help me know which areas to target and which might be more sensitive.
Start of treatment – Sometimes I begin by walking your animal to analyze their gait and to offer them time to relieve themselves before a treatment. If there are no behavioral issues or reactive issues to work through, I ask your pet to come up on my tempurpedic mat and then I start warming up their muscles. Warm up strokes are broad sweeping strokes or full hand manipulation of the tissues. During warm up I palpate your pet’s entire body. Palpation is gentle but directed touch to look for swelling, tight tissue, knots, lumps, ticks, cuts, or other issues in your pet above or below the surface of the skin.
Mid treatment – An animal always tells you the truth about how something feels for them, so I am always attentive to body language as I move farther along in the treatment. My job is to provide them with a healing experience, not a stressful one. I begin to get into joint work and deep tissue work on the muscles. Deep tissue work is more focused touch with more intent and pressure in the muscles. This work can isolate knots (trigger points) and tight tissue in your pet and provide relief from pain and tension in those areas. Many animals carry tight tissue from anxiety/stress, over-playing, under-exercising or over-using muscles. Joint work requires more direct touch at the joints themselves, massaging the muscles and tendons around the joint. This is great for arthritis and stiffness. I may do some passive range of motion (PROM) exercises depending on an animal’s condition and tolerance for this. PROM can help stiff joints loosen up. I can also provide muscle mobilization techniques or myofascial techniques to help release tight muscles.
I see each animal as unique and treat them accordingly. Treatments can be different each session, depending on the animal and what they present with.
End of Treatment – I warm down the muscles similar to warm up strokes. Then I usually provide ear and tail traction as the muscles are sufficiently warmed up and loose to make this treatment beneficial. Extending the spine slowly and gently can alleviate pressure in an animal’s back providing relief from pain and increasing mobility.
After the treatment is over I make my notes on the treatment and email them to the client so they understand what I did and the kinds of activities and treatments their pet may benefit from going forward.
What does animal massage look like?
Click here to see a video of ZEN client, Boo
What are some of the general benefits of massage for a healthy animal?
Healthy animals can benefit from massage treatments just as healthy humans can. Massage offers these benefits:
- Increases relaxation
- Builds bonding
- Reduces anxiety
- Releases tight tissue and knots
- Shortens healing time of strained muscles
- Aids digestion
- Reduces pain and swelling of joints and muscles
- Decreases blood pressure
- Strengthens the immune system
- Increases range of motion
- Stimulates liver and kidney functions
- Improves circulation of blood and movement of lymphatic fluids
- Promotes deeper and easier breathing
- Enhances the health and nourishment of the skin and coat
The benefits can even extend from your pet to you! Massage relaxes owners when they attend a treatment, just by watching. It is my practice to educate owners about what I am doing and may be finding in your pet. I like to show owners who are willing at least one technique that they can take home and practice daily on their pet. Massage works best when done often. If owners have some knowledge about how to help their pet in between professional treatments, improvements are seen faster and last longer in their animal.
It’s not just older dogs who benefit from massage; when puppies are treated, it can increase bonding with the owner, teach them the concept of “quiet time”, and desensitizes areas that are commonly more sensitive for dogs such as paws/paw pads, gums, and ears.
What problems can massage address?
Massage is particularly useful in addressing these issues:
- Stiffness when walking or slow movement
- Arthritis or other pain
- Odd gait or limping
- Hyperactivity, anxiety, stress
- Muscular dystrophy, muscle spasms or lack of range of motion in a limb
- Digestive issues
- Dry skin or coat
- Minimizing scar tissue and adhesions post-surgery
- High blood pressure
If you would like to talk more about specific goals for your pet, I welcome you to contact me to learn more about how massage may help.