Pampered pets have become a common occurrence in today’s culture – dogs dressed in full outfits can be seen walking the streets, treats allow pets to taste hickory-smoked bacon and Ahi tuna, and some pets often eat better than even the well-off. Even so, the idea of animal massage may seem a bit extravagant for even the most die-hard of pet coddler. However, it is becoming more and more accepted as a legitimate way to deal with pet health problems and provide a better quality of life, just as it has become more accepted as an appropriate treatment of the ailments of humans. After all, what better way to get your pet ready for his or her meal of duck pâté and couscous than a full-body massage?
So, what kinds of animals are getting massages? It’s not just the spoiled-rotten Chihuahuas of the world. According to an article in Massage Therapy Journal dogs, cats, ferrets, iguanas, horses and zoo animals are all possible recipients of massage. However, dogs, cats and horses are the ones who usually get massage, receiving either a “competition” (or sport) massage or a “companion” or therapeutic massage.
And, while the basic tenet of animal massage is the same as human massage – manipulation of muscles, ligaments, and joints – animal massage therapists must work harder to understand the ‘behavior, body language, and genetic dispositions” of clients that can’t speak our language. Because animals are not like humans and won’t take the momentary pain of massage for the benefits that will come two to three days later, animal massage therapists must work using lighter pressure and quick responsiveness. Some human therapists actually see this as a way to enhance their massage giving abilities as working on a client that is quick to criticize – or even scratch and bite – enhances their massage giving senses.