Becoming Pet Spa Savvy
We love being pampered, so why shouldn’t our pets? As spas increasingly become a necessity to maintaining physical and emotional well-being, animal-tailored treatments—from grooming to massage to hydrotherapy—are allowing our furry friends to reap the same health benefits. Relax. Pawse.
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When man’s best friend is in need of some kneading, the power of touch may be the answer. “Massage increases the animal’s quality of life,” says Jonathan Rudinger, president of Ohio-based International Association of Animal Massage & Bodywork, founder of PetMassage™ and author of books such as Energy Work with Dogs: Accessing the Magnificent Body Language & Body Wisdom of the Dog.
Benefits include increased flexibility and muscle tone, boosting blood circulation, and relief of pain or numbness in the legs and shoulders, as well as an improved sense of bonding with the dog’s owner.
Nearly every type of massage technique, ranging from reiki to acupressure, works on an animal, with the exception of deep work, such as rolfing (which may differ in an animal chiropractic or veterinary facility), he says. Techniques such as color and light therapies, healing touch, and bach flower are also popular, according to Rudinger. The power of massage doesn’t apply just to Fido or Kitty—horses and llamas and even walruses (oh my!) can enjoy a tender touch.
A bonus? The practice serves both owner and animal. Owners gain a “tremendous connection to the pet,” Rudinger says. “It’s a really nice one-on-one time that is therapeutic and goes way beyond belly scratches and petting that we normally give our dogs without thinking. This is very focused and deliberate.”
Acupuncture for animals of all sizes is a longstanding practice in Chinese veterinary culture, dating back more than 3,000 years. “Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment for animals when it is administered by a properly trained veterinarian,” according to the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (Fort Collins, Colorado).
The IVAS points out acupuncture helps balance energy by increasing blood circulation, relieving muscle pain, and releasing hormones like endorphins and cortisol, and it is advantageous in treating ailments such as arthritis, skin allergies, and respiratory and gastrointestinal problems.
An array of techniques, from needles to electricity to heat to low-power lasers, can be used. Though there’s no need to be on pins and needles when it comes to having your pet treated by an acupuncturist, veterinarians are adamant that pet owners pick a licensed veterinarian who has been formally trained.
Canine Water Therapy
Hydrotherapy treatments can put canines back in the swim, if they’re in need of post-surgery rehabilitation or are suffering with arthritis or hip problems. Spending some time in the pool can help with weight loss, increase flexibility, improve cardiovascular fitness and circulation, and aid in reducing chronic pain, according to the U.K.-based Canine Hydrotherapy Association. Plus, Rover might just find it refreshing.