The feeling of pain, stress and the need for relaxation, calls out for a good massage. You’ll be surprised to know that even your pets like getting massages for the same exact reasons! However, they are massaged differently from humans. That’s why it’s important for you as a pet parent to know how to give a pet massage. Don’t go thinking you can just heavily pet your furbaby, because that’s not a massage! There are specific massages like pet massage for arthritis, pet massage for older dogs, and many others to target your furbaby’s exact needs.
A pet massage targets and manipulates specific tissues, which may have a significant impact on your furbaby if done right. Can a pet massage really make a difference in my furbaby’s life? The answer - definitely! Benefits of pet massage therapy include:
- Realigns the spine and the body
- Improves circulation of all the fluids in the body
- Reduces pain and stiffness
- Greater flexibility
- Increases blood flow
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Reduces anxiety
- Aids the healing
- Aids in digestion
- Nourishes skin and coat
- Stimulates liver and kidney function
- Increases energy
- Stimulates the release of beneficial neurotransmitters
- Enhanced sense of well being
The list of pet massage benefits could go on. What’s important is that you are familiar with your furbaby’s health to help him manage his emotional and physical needs. So, regardless of the reason, your furbaby would appreciate a good massage from time to time. You’re probably wondering how to massage your pet, so here’s a guide just for you:
If your furbaby simply wants to sit back and relax with you, a basic massage would be perfect. Note that cats will take longer to accept the massage from you compared to dogs. So, wait for your cat to accept your massage before you begin. Be patient as a calming massage for cats could go a long way. Dogs, on the other hand, need to be calm and submissive.
Step 1: Establish a routine
If it’s your first time to give your pet massage, it’s better if you get to know your furbaby first to be able to establish a routine to make it easier for you next time. If you’ve been doing this for a while not, it’s not too late to create one now. This could entail picking a specific time of the day, where you give the massage and the duration of the massage, so your furbaby is aware that it’s time for a massage. However, ensure that you are also ready and prepared. Your furbaby will sense negative emotions and if you’re in a rush.
Step 2: Prepare him for the massage
You can set up a pet massage area, play soft music, and do small scale activities to warm him up. You can even use a massage brush for dogs and cats!
Step 3: Proper behavior
It’s important that he’s calm and submissive. Once he’s ready, lie him down in a comfortable position. If your furbaby is a cat, wait for him to go to you and accept your touch.
Step 4: Gentle strokes
Once he’s calm, slowly and gently stroke him from his head to his tail with your palm facing down and move in a circular motion. Remember, do not apply too much pressure.
Step 5: The massage
Wondering how to massage your pet? Follow this order: spine, sacrum, paws, legs, tummy and head. Watch out for your furbaby’s response and body language so that you can adjust your pressure and strokes accordingly.
Step 6: Repeat step #4
To end the massage, gently stroke him again from his head to his tail.
Massage with Specific Needs
This is intended for furbabies experiencing any mental or emotional discomfort, as well as physical pain from any ailments. These may be known as a pet massage for older dogs as they are more prone to illnesses. However, these are still applicable to younger pets if needed.
A massage for pets with specific needs will temporarily ease any type of discomfort, but make sure you’re familiar with your furbaby’s health and ailment to know which area to target and how to massage your pet. Here are a few basic tips to help you:
When your furbaby is fearful or nervous, massage his nerves. Begin by lightly placing the palm of your hand on top of your furbaby’s head or neck. Use your palm to gently and slowly sweep him from his head and down to his tail. Continue doing this for a few minutes until he is calm and submissive. When speaking to your furbaby, ensure that your voice is also calm. End the massage by leaving one hand on top of his head and the other hand to rest on top of the pelvis.
- Joint stiffness and soreness
After intense play or exercise, it’s possible for your furbaby to be stiff and sore. To help relieve him, find out which part is sore and gently pet him around the joint in a rhythmic pattern. After, press down on the muscles around the joint, NOT on the affected area. Release the pressure to remove tension and improve circulation. End by lightly petting the affected area.
Studies suggest that massages reduce anxiety levels and improve symptoms like pain, nausea, depression, anxiety and fatigue in humans, and suggest that the same could be done for pets suffering from cancer. However, it is not as simple. When conducting the massage, watch out for any wounds or lesions, edemas and inflammation among many others. While it is also important to take note of your furbaby’s body language, reaction and position to ensure that he is comfortable and relaxed.
Pet massages for arthritis can help relax stiff muscles and widen the range of joints, especially if he’s overweight. Begin by using your fingertips to pet around the area, knead the muscles around the joint in a circular motion and around the surrounding muscles. You may use a warm towel to help relax the muscles.
All these pet massages can be adjusted according to your furbaby’s needs. A good pet massage can go a long way to help improve the health of your furbaby, stressing the importance of knowing how to give a pet massage. It’s best to always consult your local veterinarian beforehand to ensure that you are targeting the right area and providing the best relief to help your furbaby.