Greyhound on Massage Mat
People understand that a massage delivers physical and psychological benefits. The knowledge a licensed masseuse applies complements western medicine, eastern medicine, chiropractic arts, physical therapy, and the old-fashioned spiritual practice of “laying on of hands.” It is entirely logical that other mammals, such as our beloved pet family members, would reap the same benefits as do humans. Fortunately, animal experts and veterinarians have realized this and developed research-driven massage protocols for horses, dogs, and cats.
When Jennifer DeLong casually mentioned that she is certified to perform canine massages I was thrilled to discover such a profession exists. Animal massage makes so much sense. Since we love our pets and want to show them respectful care and love, I believe it is entirely appropriate to take those with biomechanical problems or muscular tension to massage. Jennifer thought so, too. She lives with elderly greyhounds rescued from racing. The aches and pains resulting from both their former lives and the aging process led her to complete training to become a Certified Canine Massage Therapist.
Jennifer treats her own dogs plus private clients. Her own dogs are quite familiar with the routine and anticipate it with delight. In the photo below, one can see Red, a 10-year-old male with an ancient, poorly healed leg break (broken around age two in a racetrack injury) relaxing on a mat, waiting for the massage to begin.
Jennifer is extremely comfortable in the dog world. One of her professional practices stemming from this knowledge is her preference to perform the massage in the dog’s home. She feels strongly that having a dog remain in its own surroundings contributes to the progress that can be made and the healing that can occur, because she has eliminated the need for the dog to divert its energy checking out an unfamiliar location. With a new dog client, Jennifer’s goal for the first visit is to invite the dog to become comfortable with her as a person, and become comfortable with her touching almost all surfaces of its body. For that reason, she applies only light pressure in the initial treatment.
What Happens in a Canine Massage
First and always, during every massage Jennifer watches the dog’s cues about its feelings – its ear position, its eyes, and whether it is flinching. This feedback lets her know the dog’s comfort level and whether an area really needs work. If a dog needs time to settle down or make the switch to the second side, Jennifer honors its needs.
Jennifer places the dog on one side and begins at the neck and works over the shoulder.
Down neck and over shoulder
She then works on front leg and chest.
Jennifer uses three types of therapeutic touch: warming or warm-up stoke, a treating stroke and a closing stroke. With every area, she starts with warm-up touches, such as thumb walking. This warms the muscle and prepares it for further work. The second type of touch, treating, may be via palpating the muscle. The type of stroke used is always tailored to the muscle group. She may choose to apply pressure with the top of her finger. This equates to deep muscle massage and direct pressure in human massage therapy. Finally, the muscle group receives the light touch closing stroke which almost always mimics the warm-up walking. This appears similar to cool-down after exercise.
Video of a Small Part of Canine Massage
After that Jennifer works along the back – not directly on the spine but immediately adjacent to it. This reminds me of my own chiropractic treatments and human massages. I wonder if I get the same droopy, relaxed eyelids indicating my comfort? Probably. :D
The process continues steadily with the three types of therapeutic touch. Finally, Jennifer works on the back leg.
Jennifer continues doing the same sequence on the dog’s other side.
Does this photo convey the beneficial result?
I get relaxed just viewing these photos. I am very grateful for Jennifer’s invitation to view this tremendous new animal health care. However, her clients are probably even happier!
Schools for Animal Massage Training
If this therapy is something you may be called to learn, following is a list of resources.
Brandenburg Massage Therapy Website: www.horseanddogtherapy.com
Northwest School of Animal Massage Website: www.nwsam.com
Ojai School of Massage Website: www.ojaischoolofmassage.com
PetMassage™, LTD. Website: www.PetMassage.com
Rocky Mountain School of Animal Acupressure & Massage
Jennifer Delong’s practice in Eastern Pennsylvania
Jennifer Delong’s practice in Eastern Pennsylvania
Please contact her - I add my personal recommendation to her work.
All photos, video, and text copyright 2011 Maren E. Morgan, all rights reserved.
Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on February 15, 2012:
Yes, restrelax - massage is wonderful for any creature!
restrelax from Los angeles CA on February 15, 2012:
Very useful hub.
Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on November 23, 2011:
tirelesstraveller, this would fit right in at your vet's office.
Judy Specht from California on November 23, 2011:
Great Hub. My vet is into natural and alternative treatments. She even has an animal chiropractor that comes to her office. I used him once when my pointer threw his back out.