When most people think of massage therapy for animals, especially pets, the first thing that comes to mind, I think, is a pampered exuberance – dogs who get $200 spa treatments and cats who get manicures while eating $10-a-can meals. I know this was our thinking when we first wrote about the emergence of pet spas last year.
However, writing off animal massage therapy as an unnecessary luxury is somewhat like writing off massage therapy for humans as an unnecessary luxury; yes, massage therapy can be an indulgent treat, but it can also be a medically beneficial procedure that can improve the health and quality of life for animals, pet or otherwise.
For that reason, this week we wanted to reference certain articles (like this one from the Massage Therapy Journal, this one from Massage & Bodywork, and, finally, this one from the Cumberland News-Times (in Maryland)). These articles help demonstrate that animal massage therapy is not just the exuberance of extravagant pet owners, but, rather, a growing industry that is proving itself extremely beneficial.
All three articles point to the fact that animal massage therapy can be used as a health maintenance tool, detecting abnormalities and helping early diagnosis of potential medical problems. They also note that massage therapy’s beneficial properties for humans apply to animals as well, with boosted levels of blood and lymph circulation helping an animal’s health generally or, more specifically, as an animal recovers from surgery or illness.
More prominently, many Kentucky Derby winning horses routinely receive massage therapy leading up to their races, with massage therapy generally a standard part of racing horses’ training regimens, according to The New York Times.
Will animal massage therapy continue to grow in popularity and become as widespread in popular society as massage therapy for humans? It’s tough to say. It’s definitely an industry that is still getting started, but it would be interesting to see an economic analysis to determine if it is growing in popularity and, if so, among what groups of animals. The fact that this information is difficult to find speaks to the fact that the world of animal massage therapy remains small, even though its therapeutic properties mean that its potential should not be taken lightly.