• Vets at Home

Your Pet Massage Prescription

This article is intended as a handout to my clients after their consultation. I will often leave owners with a massage 'prescription' to assist their pets conditions.


Massage is a highly beneficial treatment to improve and maintain your pet’s health. I like to teach pet owners how to massage their pets so they can benefit from regular massage (wouldn’t you love your own live in massage therapist too?).


Benefits

Massage has numerous beneficial effects on our pets. The mechanical effect of massage to the soft tissues may help to relieve tense muscles through relaxation, decreased pain, increased mobility and it may improve circulation and lymphatic flow. It can reduce the amount of stress hormone, lower blood pressure, improve digestion and generate a sense of wellbeing. Following injury, massage can maintain muscle flexibility, tone and condition and prevent further loss of function. Massage can release endorphins (the body’s natural pain relievers) and promote immune function.


All pets can benefit from massage but particularly those with joint and muscle pain, arthritis, anxiety, weakness or stiffness, neurodegenerative conditions and pets recovering from injury. Healthy pets can also benefit from massage by stress reduction, injury prevention and enhanced bonding with owner.


Relaxing your Pet

Animals that are recovering from injury and geriatric pets often have some anxiety. Your pet will get more benefit from massage if they are relaxed. You and your pet will also enjoy it more. Pets are very sensitive to their owners so start by relaxing yourself. Take a few deep breaths and drop your shoulders.


I also love using the calming oils by Shy Tiger (Vets at Home clients can get 20% off using the discount code AISH20).


Contraindications for Massage

There are some situations where it is best not massage or your massage should avoid certain areas. These include:

  • Within 7-10 days of serious injury

  • Acute joint swelling or any pain

  • Signs of discomfort or aggression

  • Skin wounds, broken skin, bruised areas, abnormal looking skin, around tumours

Your Pets Massage Prescription

In your consultation today we gave you a ‘massage prescription’ for your pet. This will address the conditions your pet is currently experiencing and the types of therapy that are most appropriate. This prescription will be modified as your pet improves from the massage and their needs change.


For cats and sensitive dogs you will likely need to use a very gentle touch. The massage should be pleasurable, in some areas it might ‘hurt good’ but should be generally enjoyed by your pet. Listen to your pet, through body language and the sensitivity in your fingers, to determine what works best.


If you can’t quite remember the techniques you were shown, don’t worry, we can check how you are going at your next consultation. Until then, any movement of the soft tissues will improve blood flow and produce benefits so long as you don’t cause pain. So the take home message is – just start massaging!