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Pet Massages: The Who, What, When, Where, Why and How About Giving Pets A Massage

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Pet Massages: The Who, What, When, Where, Why and How About Giving Pets A Massage

Many pets do enjoy being massaged, but like humans, individual preferences can vary widely. It is one of those experiences that are worth giving it a try to see your pet’s reaction. If they love it, you have a new way to help them relax, whiling showing them a little love and if they are not a fan, they got a few extra rubs that won’t harm even a flea. We thought we would break it down with the who, what, where, when, why and how of pet massage.

“Who” Loves Pet Massage?

  1. Dogs: Many dogs enjoy being massaged, especially in areas where they have a lot of muscle mass like the shoulders and neck. Massage can be calming and provide comfort. It can even have health benefits, such as improving circulation and reducing stress.
  2. Cats: Cats can be more particular about touch, but many do enjoy gentle massages along the spine, under the chin, or around the ears. Some cats may prefer a softer touch, while others may enjoy more pressure.
  3. Horses: Massage is a common practice in equine care, particularly for working or performance horses. It can reduce tension, improve mobility, and enhance overall well-being.
  4. Birds: Some birds enjoy gentle strokes along the feathers or soft touches around the head and neck. Again, this can vary widely among different species and individual birds.
  5. Small Mammals: Animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, and ferrets may also enjoy gentle massage or petting, but care should be taken to approach them calmly and understand their preferences.
  6. Reptiles: The preference for physical touch in reptiles can vary significantly. Some may tolerate or even enjoy gentle handling, while others may be more indifferent or even averse to it.

“What” Exactly Is Pet massage?

A pet massage is the practice of using hands-on techniques to gently manipulate an animal’s muscles and tissues. It will increase circulation, reduce tension, improve flexibility, promote relaxation, and enhance the overall well-being of your pet. It can be done for therapeutic reasons, such as aiding in recovery from injury or surgery, or simply for relaxation and bonding between the pet and owner. While many humans use massagers and massage gear, we recommend using hands only so you maintain control. Be mindful of any underlying health conditions that might make massage uncomfortable or inappropriate. If in doubt, consult with a veterinarian.

“Where” Should You Conduct Your Pet Message?

This statement can be taking two ways, so we thought we would answer them both. Let’s start with the best location for doing a pet message. We recommend a large open space such as the floor, bed, or sofa. Lay down some blankets and make it comfy for you and your pet. Now let’s focus on where on your pet to actually massage. Start with muscular areas such as their back, upper legs, head, and ears. You can then begin to explore other areas depending on the response.

“When” Should You Conduct Your Pet Message?

Anytime is a great time to offer a pet massage. In the morning to get them moving, after a long walk to relax the muscles, or before bed to help them relax especially if they are anxious. If your pet really enjoys it, make it part of your daily or weekly routine. If you find it helps them recover after a long walk, especially as they age that is a great time as well.

“Why” Should You Do A Pet Massage?

This answer is both physical and mental for both you and your pet. It is a great time to bond, truly letting you show your pet how much you care. It is also a great way to help pets who often struggle with poor circulation, bad backs, and sore legs to ensure a longer and healthier life. Offering a massage after surgery or an injury can also aid in recovery, but we definitely recommend touching base with your veterinarian before doing so just to make sure you do not re-injure or make the problem worse.

“How” Should You Do A Pet Massage?

  • Start Slowly: Gradually introduce your pet to massage, starting with gentle petting in areas they already enjoy being touched.
  • Watch Their Reaction: Look for signs of enjoyment (like purring in cats or leaning into the touch in dogs) or discomfort (pulling away, tensing muscles, etc.). Every pet is different, so it’s important to be attentive to their individual preferences and sensitivities.
  • Use Appropriate Pressure: Some pets may enjoy a firmer touch, while others may prefer a very gentle hand. Start softly and adjust based on your pet’s reaction.
  • Start With The Large Muscles: These areas generally feel the best when massaged and tend to get the best reaction. Then move to smaller muscle areas around the face, ears, and neck. If you pet will also you to massage they underside and belly, give it a try. You may want to focus on one muscle group at a time and see how it goes so that you don’t over-stimulate.
  • Go Slow: Unlike petting your pet, where your hand moves across the back in a sweeping motion, kneed your fingers into the muscles slowly as you move down their back, legs or head.
  • Repeat: Massage the area at least twice to give the muscles a chance to relax and your pet more time to get used to the experience. They may lean into your hands when they really enjoy it giving you feedback.
  • Look For Sensitive Spots: We hope you don’t find any, but it is a great opportunity to get to know your pet’s health even better. If you find any areas that cause your pet to pull back or jump, note this and contact your veterinarian.
  • Warm Things Up: Ending the message with a warm blanket or snuggle is a great way to let them enjoy the experience a bit longer and give you time together.

Next time you have a little free pet play time, consider planning a pet message that will do both of you a lot of good. Don’t be disappointed if you pet is not a message lover, there are plenty of humans who don’t care for it either. Here is a great book about physical therapy and message for pets that is worth checking out.

“Message heals the mind, body & soul”