When it comes to massage therapy we usually think about massage for people. Nevertheless, massage therapy for animals is not uncommon at all. The type of animals being massaged are usually cats, dogs, and horses, but also other sorts of animals qualify like birds, rodents, cows, goats, pigs, and reptiles.
In fact, touching and grooming is a natural phenomenon among animals in the wild, and often they miss that when being kept and confined in a smaller space than would be the case in their natural habitat. As such, massage can be a useful addition to make animals thrive better in a basically unnatural environment.
As animals cannot actually tell in words what’s wrong with them, a very important advantage of giving regular massages to an animal is early detection of health problems such as pains, swelling, discomforts, wounds, or injuries. This can help an owner or caretaker to decide if and when to visit a veterinary practice for professional medical help.
In addition, the usual health benefits of massage therapy for people apply also for animals; think of a better blood and lymph circulation, pain relief, muscle tone improvement, muscle tension release, relief of excessive gas, more flexibility and range of motion, stress and anxiety relief, emotional bonding, better sleep quality, and general feelings of wellbeing.
Therapeutic massage treatments range from preparation for sports performance (think of dog and horse races), alleviating back, spine, hip and leg issues, diminishing growing pains, enhancing recovery times after injuries, and/or dealing with emotional trauma (think of grief or fear due to abandonment and abuse), among other fields.
The types of massages that can be given actually cover the whole range of massage and bodywork for people like, for instance, acupressure (such as in Shiatsu Massage), trigger-point therapy, acupuncture, stretches, chiropractic, classic massage (strokes, kneading, rubbing, compression, pressure, tapotement, and so on), aromatherapy, and energy work (such as Reiki Healing).
Animal massage therapy is a growing treatment modality, not only in the private sphere (among pet owners), but also in the professional sphere of farms, rehabilitation programs, zoos, animal shelters, and wildlife sanctuaries.