We all know that massages are good for us and that they leave us feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. What most people aren’t probably aware about is that massages are equally beneficial to their dogs as well. So, are massages for pets and animals a modern concept?
Not really!! Let’s take a peek into the history of animal massages…
Massage Therapy For Animals- The Background
The word massage is derived from mass which is an Arabic word that means press. Massage therapy finds its origins in China and is over 4000 years old. There is also a lot of evidence in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics that display how healers used to massage animals as a form of treatment. The therapy was also used by the Romans; Flavius Arrianus was a noted philosopher and administrator who worked during Roman Emperor Hadrian’s reign.
He is said to have propagated the use of massage therapy for horses and dogs and stated that it would help strengthen and knit their limbs. Aside from this, he also mentioned that it helps cleanse any impurities their skin might have. Different ancient civilisations used to address various medical conditions in their work animals and pets, using massage therapy.
“Massage is the act of manually rubbing and kneading tired muscles to significantly improve the physical, emotional as well as metal health. This also helps the body heal itself.”
How Your Pets Can Benefit From Massages
Over the years, many studies have been conducted by researchers across the world and there is solid evidence that massage and the act of touch benefits our pets in a number of ways, such as:
In addition, it is excellent for pain management; expert veterinarians are now recommending massage therapy for their patients that have undergone surgery or are recovering from an injury. Over the years, there has been a noticeable increase in the popularity of canine massages in Australia.
It is increasingly becoming an integral part of chiropractic, physical, veterinary and physiotherapy treatments for canines. It has proved to be so effective in improving the overall wellbeing of pets that is now also being used for sporting & competitive dogs, as a preventive treatment.
Who Should Learn Pet Massage Therapy?
1. Pet Parents
If you learn how your pet should be massaged, it will help maintain its overall health & wellbeing. In fact, it’s a great way to help your canine friend relax, and massage time is perfect for bonding with your pet. If there are any abnormalities in your pet’s bodily movements, those may also be brought to light in the course of the massage. This gives you the opportunity to have them addressed before they escalate and affect the health of your pet.
2. Workers/Helpers at Animal Shelters
If you work or are a volunteer at an animal shelter, massages can be quite beneficial for the canines there. In fact, animal rescuers should also consider learning canine massage. It can help de-stress, relax and teach the dogs to be more trusting and confident while interacting with humans. Massage has therapeutic effects on pets suffering from any emotional issues such as stress, trust, anxiety and grief.
Tips For Massaging Your Pet
Contact the Experts
We offer excellent massage therapy services for dogs at our new K9SWiM Hydrotherapy and Wellness Centre at North Richmond. Sessions are by Booking Only.
I (Sharon) run specialised animal massage workshops at this centre. If you are interested in learning how to perform massages for your own dog, please contact us for details of our next massage workshop. For more information, please check this page.
With days shorter and colder in the winter months we thought we would share some tips and treats on keeping your dog healthy, warm and fit over winter. Our furry friends rely on us for their health, comfort and joy.
Winter Dog Bedding Tips
Your dog’s bedding will depend on whether they are an inside dog or an outside dog.
Even though it may feel warm inside the floor can still be quite cold. Make sure bedding is off the floor and out of draft areas. Dogs are social animals and love to be part of the family and having their beds in a location where they can see you always provides them comfort knowing that you are there.
A dog house should be big enough for your dog to stand up and turn around. Any extra space just means extra area to heat. Make sure your dog house is in a good location so the wind does not enter the opening and gets some sun during the day to add some warmth. You can cover the doorway of the dog house with a flap of carpet to prevent the wind from coming in. You can also place a blanket over the dog house to provide some extra insulation in the winter months. A good insulated mattress and warm blankets within the dog house will ensure a nice warm comfortable sleep.
Extra warmth for your four legged friend can be provided through heat lamps, heaters, heat mats, heat packs and hot water bottles. It is important to make sure that any heating mats, packs or hot water bottles are placed under bedding so the heat radiates through. NEVER apply heat directly to your dog as it will burn the skin and cause discomfort.
If your dog sleeps in front of an open fire it is important to make sure the fire has a screen so your dog doesn’t accidentally get burnt from embers.
How About a Winter Jacket
There are so many warm and protective winter jackets on the market that can keep our pooches nice and cozy in the cold nights. Dogs with arthritic conditions, older dogs, short coated dogs and dogs that have been unwell feel the cold so much more and will benefit greatly in these months with the extra warmth.
In the winter months our dogs can turn into couch potatoes and sleep a lot. They conserve energy whilst sleeping and exercise much less so you will need to adjust their diet accordingly otherwise they may start to put on weight!
Outdoor dogs will burn more calories (up to 30%) and will need extra food if you can’t bring them inside.
Water is just as important for Winter as it is Summer so make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water available at all times.
Adding some great winter herbs to their meal can help them through the cold months- Echinacea for the immune system, turmeric for mobility and it’s a warming herb as well, Rosehips for vitamin C. Consider adding these supplements to their meals to get through the cold days and nights. Remember to ALWAYS consult a vet or an animal naturopath before giving your dog herbs or supplements.
The days are shorter in winter months. You may go to work in the dark and get home in the dark and are unable to exercise your dog like you can do in the warmer, longer months. Exercise is still very important as dogs need to burn off energy, stretch their muscles out, get mental stimulation all for their well-being. Why not bring them for a weekly swim at K9 Swim where the pool is indoors and heated and is a perfect workout. They will sleep well at night after a swim!
Arthritic dogs suffer more in the colder months. This is the time to keep them exercising so they don’t seize up. Swimming in a heated pool is a great exercise for arthritic dogs since it is a non-weight bearing activity. Keep arthritic dogs on regular and no stress to the joint exercise and stick to it, they will get through the colder months a lot easier.
Warm Winter Food - Why not cook up a doggie casserole with lean meat , vegetables and some brown rice! A delicious nutritious winter warming meal for a cold day! Or you can add some warm water to their kibble , this will warm their tummies!
Winter Massage – Massage is wonderful for our dogs and especially in the winter months where muscles can get tight and sore as they are not moving around as much. Treat your dog to a massage whilst you are watching TV or listening to some nice music in a warm room. Not only is it nice for our dogs but it’s a wonderful bonding experience for owners and their beloved pets.
Not sure how to massage? Come along to Richmond TAFE’s next animal massage workshop on Friday 24th June, bring your dog and learn how to make your dog feel great!
Who doesn’t love to snuggle! Winter is a great excuse to curl up and snuggle with your four legged friend inside in the warmth away from the winter cold.
Keep safe, warm and well.
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Hi I'm Sharon Osmond the owner and founder of K9 Swim. The Splash Blog is where I share tips and information on dog's health and safety and some fun facts and stories.