How would you like to have a job where you could spend the day playing with and petting adorable cats and dogs? If this sounds like a cuddly dream to you, you should consider becoming a Pet Massage Therapist.
Yes, there really is such a thing. In fact, there’s a National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure & Massage. They ensure there are proper guidelines and training for current and future therapists.
Benefits of Massage for Dogs
Dogs can suffer from the same aches and pains as people. It may be due to medical conditions or simply from getting older. Lola Michelin of the Northwest School of Animal Massage believes massage can help man’s best friend feel better than ever.
Medical Benefits of Pet Massage
There are numerous medical benefits to pet massage, according to MaryJean Ballner, a graduate of the Swedish Institute of Massage Therapy.
Physiologically, massage stimulates the body’s nerves, muscles, circulatory system and lymphatic system. It enhances range of motion, increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells, relieves muscle spasms and helps to flush away toxic compounds, such as lactic acid, that cause pain. Massage has been used therapeutically to aid in healing after injury or surgery, ease chronic stiffness and reduce the heart rate.
Cats Can Love Massage, Too
Cats, by nature, may be a bit more hesitant to be still for a massage. Still, it’s possible with the right technique.
Over the years, Baller found that cat massage can calm even the jitteriest cats.
“The first time we met, it took a few minutes for me to gently pry his claws from the shelf,” she said of a 4-year-old cat she worked with. “For the next few weeks, I patiently cradled this cat in my arms… held him securely on my lap and repeated gentle soothing words. Gradually he began to accept being massaged with a soft bristle brush.”
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Animal massage laws and requirements vary by state. There are strict laws in Arizona, Arkansas and Maine limiting it to medical practice only done by veterinarians. However, unlicensed practitioners are allowed in states such as Alabama, Alaska and Delaware.
Looking for formal training? A Canine Massage Therapy program is offered on Equissage.com. Upon completion of the program, students can get national certification from the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.