Fido Needs To Relax, Too
Want to offer your animal the ultimate luxury? Just as with humans, a pet massage can improve your four-legged-friend’s circulation, reduce muscle fatigue, remove toxins and maintain flexibility. It also helps condition his coat, as massage moves the skin’s natural oils through his fur.
Nicola Way, a small-animal massage practitioner at Vancouver Animal Massage, suggests another benefit: You will be able to detect any hidden lumps, which could be early signs of a serious condition such as cancer. ‘Typically, pets get stroked only on the head, back and sides. But if you take the time to massage your pet, you can go between the toes, on the groin area and under the armpits,’ says Way, who has been treating dogs and cats for 14 years.
Owners may want to check first with their veterinarian to ensure that the animal is a good massage candidate. Pets can be wary of being touched if they have a condition such as bone, skin or blood cancer; or disc herniation.
As for whether or not your pet will enjoy massage, that’s entirely individual. A happy pet will breathe normally, and have soft, relaxed eyes. Awww. If you want, you can book your pet a date with a pet massage practitioner. These specially trained experts in animal anatomy and massage offer hour-long sessions for around $65. But if you want to DIY, go for it. Way recommends two massage methods owners can try.
DIY Pet Massages
The first focuses on the back of the neck, front of the shoulders and behind the shoulder blades area. Get your pet to lie down on his side or stomach, and position yourself behind him. ‘Line up your hands on the back of the pet’s neck just below the ears, and do a gentle kneading motion as if you were making bread,’ says Way.
The second method is called Tellington Touch. With your pet lying down, place the fingertips of one hand together on your pet’s skin, and move them as if you are going around a clock face. Start at 12 o’clock, and travel clockwise to 3, 6, 9, 12, and back to 3. ‘Do this gentle touch on one area of the body, and then move your hands to do exactly the same thing on another area,’ says Way. But stay away from the spine, as it protects the delicate spinal cord.