Animal Massage & Wellness

Celebrate Your Furry Friends with Caring Touch

By Sophie West

For ages, pets have helped us handle stress and center ourselves. Whether employed as therapy animals or simply
providing us with companionship and unconditional love, pets ease our minds and souls.
Pet owners have long suspected that our furry friends are perhaps more closely related to us than they look. They seem almost perfectly in sync with our every thought and feeling, so much so that it sometimes feels as if they can speak our language. And to a degree they can! Studies have shown that dogs can understand more than 100 words of human language.
Although pets will never have the opportunity to tell us what’s really on their minds, a study by the MTA-ELTA Comparative Ethology Research Group in Hungary (recently published in Scientific American) confirms that dog and human brains process the sounds and emotions of others very similarly. In fact, dogs are wired in much the same way we are and can understand what we feel based on the sounds we make. The affection and deep emotional connection we have with our pets is real and it flows both ways.

Healthier Lifestyles
Knowing that our pets have the ability to sense emotion and perceive stress, we can appreciate how our four-legged pals might benefit, both physically and emotionally, from many of the same health and wellness treatments we use.
The pet wellness industry has remained
one of the most recession-proof shopping sectors. Perhaps it’s due to mounting acknowledgement of the importance of a healthy lifestyle, a refocusing on prevention over intervention, and a growing interest in integrative medicine. Whatever the cause, pet owners have become increasingly aware of the need to create healthier, less stressful lifestyles for their companions, too.
Veterinarians are starting to collaborate with a variety of specialists and therapists to incorporate these interests into their practices. The market for organic pet food, safe toys, and other healthy pet products has also grown over the past few years. This makes sense, as many of the harmful ingredients we avoid in our own products and food are serious concerns for pets as well. Industry leaders are beginning to realize what pet owners already know: that we’re willing to do just about anything to ensure our pets’ health and happiness.

Treat Them to Bodywork!
One way to dramatically enhance your pet’s quality of life is through massage. While dogs, cats, and horses are the most likely candidates for massage, animals such as alpacas, cows, goats, llamas, and even reptiles have also seen benefits. The demand for animal massage therapy is rapidly increasing and therapists are using a variety of techniques, like deep-tissue and Swedish massage.
The wear and tear on animals’ bodies as they age is similar to what humans experience. According to the International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork (IAAMB), massage therapy not only helps older pets with mobility issues, it can increase flexibility and balance, relax and reduce stress, relieve nervous tension, promote a good appetite and better sleep, and improve circulation. Additionally, massage assists and encourages healing by reducing edema (swelling), preventing atrophy of inactive muscles, releasing endorphins (naturally occurring steroids in the body that help to relieve pain), and promoting the flow of bodily nutrients to injured muscles.
Knowingly or not, many of us rely heavily on the support of our pets. Perhaps it’s time we repay them with more than a tasty treat or a run in the park. With so many effective health and wellness options out there, paying it forward to our four-legged companions is easier than ever. Try changing their diet and living environment to organic and toxin-free, bring them along on vacation for a little R&R, or give pet massage a try. Whatever the method, let’s celebrate our constant companions by offering gifts that impact their happiness now and their wellness for a lifetime.

The following essential oil blend
recipes are courtesy of Aura Cacia
To Keep Pets Off Furniture
5 drops rosemary essential oil
5 drops peppermint essential oil

Place drops of both oils onto a cloth and place the cloth on furniture. Most pets don’t like this scent and will avoid the furniture.

Collar Protection Blend
5 drops vetiver essential oil
5 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
10 drops sandalwood essential oil

Mix together all ingredients and rub into the top side of your pet’s collar. Don’t get it on the pet’s skin, and make sure the collar is tight enough so that the pet cannot lick it. Warning: this blend may stain the collar.

Pet Blend for Dry Skin
1 tablespoon organic argan oil
10 drops German chamomile essential oil

Combine oils and rub into the affected area. Prevent your pet from licking off the blend for 15–20 minutes, either by holding the animal or by wrapping the area.

Pet Blend for Skin Irritations
3 squirts organic tamanu oil
1 to 2 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops rose absolute essential oil

Combine oils and rub into the affected area. Prevent your pet from licking off the blend for 15–20 minutes, either by holding the animal or by wrapping the area

Does Your MT Also Practice Animal Massage?
Many massage and bodywork practitioners have blended practices and also work with animals.
You’ll never know if yours does if you don’t ask during your next visit! And if you’re looking for an animal practitioner, or any practitioner for that matter, be sure to check out Find a Practitioner on
Simply choose the modality you’re looking for, enter a ZIP code or city, and specify how far you’re willing to travel. Click “Find.” It’s that easy!

As editorial director of, an online source for nontoxic personal care, pet, and household goods, Sophie West, MPH, believes we all have the right to know what’s in the products we bring into our homes. She joined True Goods with a mission to help customers harness their purchasing power to create healthier lives and a more sustainable environment.