Massage Isn’t Just for People! By Sherry B. True

Who doesn’t love a good massage? When you hear the word “massage”, guaranteed your animal companion isn’t the first one that comes to mind.

You probably picture yourself at an expensive spa, spending lots of money, living the life of luxury and receiving the “feel-good” benefits after a good massage! Just as holistic medicine is not yet formally recognized by the medical community as a viable treatment adjunct, the benefits of alternative medicine are not being fully recognized by the veterinary community either. Slowly however, things are beginning to change for both people and animals in this regard.

Thankfully today as a society and as caregivers we are discovering the value of preventive holistic healthcare for us and our animal companions by recognizing the importance of working with the mind, body and spirit together.

Massage is a natural contribution to a fit, happy and healthy life for you and your animal companion. Animals of all ages benefit from a good massage. You do not need to wait until an animal is in pain or discomfort to benefit from a good massage. It is a great addition to preventive health care for your pet. For many of us it is no longer considered a luxury for our animal companions to benefit from a whole host of holistic alternatives like massage, acupuncture, acupressure, aromatherapy or homeopathy. There are many benefits to animal massage. All of the benefits are the same benefits we as humans experience such as, an increased overall sense of wellness, a general sense of calming and reduction of stress, increased flexibility and movement, pain reduction or relief of pain. Decreased recovery time from surgery or trauma, increased circulation of the blood, lymphatic and nervous systems, removal of toxins from the body and its organs are also of the potential benefits of massage. During their lifetimes almost all animal companions will experience some bumps, bruises, injuries, or serious trauma. Sometimes, however, after such injuries are treated and healed by a veterinarian, your animal companion may continue to experience some painful residual effects. This is a good example of when massage can be used to compliment the veterinary care being given. As a certified canine massage therapist it brings me joy to see the relaxation, peacefulness and sometimes playfulness an animal exhibits after receiving a massage. Often times I have had dogs fall off to sleep as I work on them. Others however become energized by having tight muscles or joints loosened.

Each animal is different and each responds differently to a massage. Old age happens to the best of us and our animal companions get there sooner than we do. Massage can help alleviate the pain older animals have with arthritis or stiff joints. There are many natural approaches to help relieve pain including nutritional supplements, acupuncture as well as massage. Not just for muscles anymore, therapeutic massage therapy can also effectively and naturally help alleviate many physiological problems an animal might be experiencing. The act of touch alone can often times produce emotional healing or a sense of wellbeing for an animal companion. Despite the many positive aspects of massage, there are some situations in which it may not be an appropriate treatment. Animals suffering from fever, shock, infection, open wounds, rashes, lumps and immune disease typically do not benefit from massage and taking the time to perform a massage will delay much needed veterinary care. All throughout history, massage has been used routinely on animals as part of healing and conditioning programs, to help increase the aid in recovery from injury, to provide relief from soreness and pain and to calm and relax our animal companions who lived and worked alongside us. In the areas of racing or showing of animals, massage is often times used on a daily basis to keep the animal healthy and relaxed. Alternative holistic health care provides animals with additional resources for overall good health and a happy life.

Sherry B. True, CMT is owner and service provider for Spirit Paws, alternative animal wellness services. Her services include animal communication, pet massage, animal blessings and Healing Touch for Animals®. For more information please visit www.spiritpaws.com or call 410-254-0478.