Massage: A Therapy for Pets

The cozy winter is already here, the season of getting sick and lazy has taken over our procrastination routine. The temperature is continuously dropping after the first snowfall on the mountains in our country. During this time, along with human beings animal suffers too. Sometimes the pet suffers from arthritis. Occasionally, it has been seen that old aged pets find it hard to even get up on their feet. So, they need a massage to feel fresh just like human beings do to release their physical as well as mental stress.

Massage is done on the body by applying pressure with hands, fingers, knees, forearms, feet and other equipment. Its purpose is to relieve pain, increase the body temperature and supply energy.  Massage stimulates the chemical in body viz. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter which is a contributor to feelings of well being and happiness. It also stimulates hormone Endorphin in the body which reduces the pain. Massage comes under complementary and alternative therapy.

The existence of massage is from prehistoric period. Earlier, massage was done on pets which were used in race, war, transport. Hippocrates, a Greek philosopher said that massage is an art of relaxation in which rubbing on the body is used as a therapy. By putting pressure on the body massage increases the flow of oxygen in the blood. Leveled up oxygen in the blood issues helps in healing, reducing pain and swelling.

Massage can be done on pets by using four types:



1. Gliding the hand over the body of pets by gentle patting. The intention behind this is to identify any oddities on the body because, by long hairs on the skin, the problem can't be seen. Gentle patting is beneficial in warming up the tissues and increase in blood flow. During the activity, one can be able to check for swelling and inflammation. Restricted movement and resistance can also be observed. This type of massage is known as ‘Effleurage.’ Generally, this activity is done by the owner to every pet animal including horse and cattle.

2. In this activity, by using fingers twisting the skin, rolling, kneading and squeezing the skin for improving blood circulation. By this mechanism through stimulation, it helps in removal of toxins and releasing spasm. This activity is known as ‘Petrissage.’

3. In this activity, there is no pressure needed for the patting, it works only with a gentle gesture. Gentle or soft massage is only used in cases of hip dislocation and arthritis. The soft massage will be done on the affected area. During this only soft stroke of hands are required to make them feel better. This type is known as ‘Laying on the Hand.’

4. By using fingertips scratch the body as the pet do naturally on their body. The pet likes to scratch their body for overall stimulating the system of the body including circulatory, cardiovascular, neurological system. This activity is mainly used on adult pets. This activity is known as ‘Scratching.’

In the case of pets, the massage is never done with the help of oil, powder or any kind of lubricants as it may cause a reaction on the skin.
The massage is done to dry hair coat. No hard patting is needed because it might lead to joint problems. Massages is done to relax the body. In case of pets, their skin is loose so if we apply too much pressure on the skin it may cause damage to the tissues.

Whenever you feel there are some parts which are swollen or there are any type of wounds or any extra-growth then massage with care and consult with the veterinary expert. Sometimes the pet shows discomfort because of massaging by showing aggressive nature then stop massaging and look for the cause. Whenever the pet is sick then scratching is enough for the comfort, don't perform Effleurage or Petrissage. During the massage, it is good to try the fingers for checking any abnormality. First, run the fingers on the body to relax the pet then proceed for massage. It should start from the head then to shoulder and finally end it on the backside. The legs should be massaged afterwards. The massage of pet should be done after their daily routine, for instance, after their daily walk, bath and exercise.

Sometimes the pet resists for a massage but be patient, the introduction of the process may take some time or if massage is done by a new hand, the pet may resist. If the pet is resisting aggressively then stop immediately and look for the cause of resistance. The pet shows discomfort which includes growling or snarling, flinching or yelping, flattened ears, rolling eyes and when there is a sign of an open wound, no message should be done on that area. When the pet has gone through a surgical intervention, massage is not required. If there are dermatitis or sting bites, massage should be avoided.


Benefits of Massage:



Improves blood circulation in the body.
Improves the immune system of the body.
Helps in improving skin and haircoat of pets.
Relieve the old age problems.
Helps in the diagnosis of problems related to the skin and body as wounds, soreness, swelling etc.
Might help in calming down the nervousness, restlessness, and anxiety of pets.
Improves alertness and concentration.
It is a passive form of exercise for lazy and aged pets.
Improves muscle strength.
Helps in removing tension, pain, and discomfort.
Helps in the regulation of oxygen to the tissues which helps in disposing of toxic waste and byproducts of cells.
Helps in warming-up the body and prevent injury.
Helps in reducing arthritis and hip dysplasia.
Helps in the winter season to cope with decreasing atmospheric temperature.
Grooming is cleaning the body by brushing and combing of haircoat. By grooming, the pet looks nice and clean. It can be done after the massage. By proper grooming, the hair fall may be less.

The word acupressure is related to therapy. In this technique, the therapist uses pressure on specific points of the body to get the desired outcome. The acupressure doesn’t come under the category of massage. Generally, it is used in arthritis problem, however, this science is getting popular in our country and is useful for pets.

The pet owner often asks that when to offer a meal, it is recommended that after massaging at an interval of half an hour, one can offer the meal. After providing the meals, massage should be avoided while grooming can be done any time.