You will encounter many different forms of massage depending where around the world you travel. However in this modern age, you can probably find all significant forms of massage within a close proximity.
Do you know someone who earns a living from massaging cats, dogs, and horses? Well, isn’t that a great way to get paid? Although, in reality, animal massage requires a great deal of knowledge as that of massages done on humans.
Even though animal massages are physically demanding, there are various techniques used to properly apply them on your furry friend. Plus, it has profound effects on your pet that he or she will surely enjoy. You can even give it as a gift to your loved animal. Let’s delve a little bit more into the topic.
History Of Animal Massage
Massage therapy has been used all throughout history. Same goes with animal massage. It has been applied in order to take care of both companion animals and livestock. References with regards to animal massage have been discovered in ancient Egypt, India, and China.
Experiments which involve various physiological effects of this therapy has been conducted by the 1800s. In the 1970s, experiments involving massage therapy on race horses were done by Jack Meagher. He even worked with horses that went to the Olympics in 1976. In 1985, he finished writing a book entitled “Beating Muscle Injuries.” This book addressed on how to prevent and treat horse’ muscle injuries.
Knowledge And Experience With Each Type Of Species Is Important
When therapists are working with animals, it is very important that they possess thorough knowledge of the particular species’ systems and bodily organs. The therapist should have a working knowledge of the skeletal, muscular, digestive, cardiovascular, nervous, respiratory, and integumentary systems of that particular animal.
Animals can also be more sensitive compared to humans. This is true especially with regards to their digestive, respiratory, and integumentary systems because their sense might actually be more acute. Animals might not be able to tolerate dietary changes, strong scents, ointments, extreme heat, and other topical treatments compared to humans.
Similar to those applied on humans, animal massages have numerous benefits. Massages can also be performed before and after events to enhance performance of animals in sporting events including horse and dog racing.
Therapists should also possess a working knowledge of the various terms used for the specific animal he or she will work with. For instance, fetlock refers to the ankles and tarsus refers to the hock of a horse. Each specific animal has different terms which might be breed-specific as well.
Since animals are not able to speak, they are evaluated by the therapist through other measures such as gait analysis, palpation, movements observation, and conformation analysis (how animals stand and how they hold themselves).
Experience with a certain animal type is very important. This is due to the fact that you won’t know if an animal is moving normally or incorrectly without actually knowing what the normal (or correct) movements are for that specific species.
For instance, dogs have a fast, short stride when they are walking. When they run, their entire bodies are extended and they quickly cover ground. On the other hand, elephants have a lumbering and slow gate. Cows get up on their feet with the back end first. Horses get up using the front end initially. If a therapist doesn’t have knowledge with regards to a species normal movement, he or she won’t be able to detect problems easily.
Animal Massage Therapy Techniques
The massage techniques used in animals are similar to those used in humans. These include direct pressure, compression, friction, effleurage, petrissage, vibration and percussion (tapotement).
- Direct Pressure. It is used to relieve hypertonic muscle tissue. In addition, direct pressure is applied to enhance circulation thus getting rid of trigger points and re-oxygenating.
- Compression. It is used to enhance circulation due to the pumping action.
- Friction. This leads to affecting the muscles’ deeper layers. It is done by compressing the animal’s tissue against that of its bone. Thus adhesions are freed and areas of restriction are also broken up.
- Effleurage. This is used for warming muscle tissues up and results to helping animals recover from fatigue. This can also be utilized to calm and soothe pets that are stressed.
- Petrissage. The strokes can be used to feel and get an evaluation of the tissue underlying a particular area. It is used to roll the animal’s skin to break up restriction within fascia and enhance circulation. Thus, nutrients are circulated properly for enhanced recovery, removal of fluid, and purging of waste accumulation.
- Vibration And Percussion (Tapotement). This results in wider range of motion. Nerve sensation is decreased before deeper forms of massage are used in order to loosen joints and tissues.
Animals Massage Benefits
Massage therapy implemented in animals has been shown to provide various benefits:
- Muscle tension relief
- Reduced formation of trigger points
- Relief of muscle pain and spasms
- Decrease in scar tissue
- Wider range of motion
- Enhanced tone for weak muscles
- Intestinal gas relief
- Improves digestion
- Activates sensory receptors thus interrupting the pain cycle
- Enhanced blood circulation
- Enhanced lymphatic circulation
- Improved immunity
- Decrease in blood pressure levels
- Reduced heart rate
- Soothes and calms animals by enhancing serotonin and dopamine levels in the body.
- Reduce stress levels
Similar to humans, there are certain contraindications and precautions to remember when massaging animals. If a specific animal is in shock, it might have low blood pressure. If you massage an animal with low blood pressure, this might lead to furthering lowering it thus putting your pet at risk.
Fever might also be caused by infection. A vet should address the fever before massage is actually administered. If your pet has cancer, it is best to get advice from a vet before getting them ready for massage. Other contraindication include the following:
- Open wounds
- Skin conditions
- Torn muscles
- Torn ligaments and tendons
- Acute diseases such as coughs and influenza
Animal Massage State Laws
Animal massage is covered by veterinary licensing laws in approximately 40 states. Information about state laws can be found here. It is important to take the advice of your veterinarian before letting your pet undergo through a massage. And if you got the go-signal, remember to find massage therapists for animals near you!
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