Most of us are keen on petting our pets. In fact, I have often wondered if that’s why they’re called “pets”. It’s not uncommon for pet-owners to show their affection for little Fido or Mr. Whiskers by fluffing or brushing their fur, rubbing their head, and squeezing their ears. And they seem to love it, too. It’s one of the many ways in which we bond with our animals. But is pet massage a natural progression, or is it taking things a little too far?
The first thing you may wonder is how massage is different from petting, and believe it or not, there is a big difference between a little jovial jostling and serious therapeutic handling of your pet. There are several techniques, but the ones that seem to have the most health benefits may be familiar to you since they are also used in human massage and reflexology. Eplorage (eh-pluh-rahj) seems to be the most useful technique, and anyone who has had a full body massage will recognize the movement. It includes running the flat of the hand along the contours of the body with the lightest of pressure, employing constant contact (from one or both hands). Then there are paw stretches, which involve supporting the joints with one hand while gently pulling down and then up on the paw. There is also light tapping with the fingertips, and finally, passive touch, wherein the masseur rests one hand on the back of the head and one hand above the sacrum, all the while thinking positive thoughts.
Now, you know your furry friend loves to receive attention, but what, exactly, does massage do for him? These procedures are designed to promote health and wellness in your pet. And while animal massage tends to be employed in cases of illness, post-surgical recovery, or old age, it can benefit any pet. Massage can be used to increase circulation, flexibility, mobility, and activity, reduce inflammation, boost immunity, induce relaxation, and even promote lymphatic drainage. At the very least, it makes your animal calm and happy. Even better, it can help them heal from injury or illness and reduce the effects of arthritis.
And you don’t have to go to a pricey professional to get it done, either. While the cost of animal massage may be a bit less than that for humans (depending on proximity, type of animal, and reason for therapy), you are still looking at standard rates of about $50 per hour. That can be a bit much for some pet owners. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to learn on your own. By looking online, you can find books, DVDs, and even free tutorials (check out YouTube) to learn many animal massage techniques from the comfort of your own home (although you may also be able to find local classes in your area). And chances are, you spend a lot of time stroking your pet’s fur, anyway. Why not put in a bit more effort to add some of the health benefits of targeted massage? Besides saving you money, it provides an excellent opportunity for you to deepen the bond you share with your little companion, and that incentive is well worth your while.