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Do you ever indulge in the occasional animal massage video?  You know, those unbelievable cute videos of cats massaging cats or even cats massaging dogs?  I recently found myself down that YouTube rabbit hole of adorableness and it got me thinking about our furry friends and their need for compassionate touch.

I have known therapists who specialized in Equine massage for professional race horses and horses that were rehabbing from injury.  They made really good money and seemed to absolutely love their jobs! Horses often get ridden and then are stabled since there isn’t always the space to have them in a pasture.  Jennisse Ashley, Equine Sports Massage Therapist, says it is similar to people who sit at a desk all the time.  Once they get up and move, their muscles may not be prepared and the transition from being sedentary to exerting oneself can result in injury.  Jennisse has always had a love for horses and feels these beauties can benefit from ongoing massage therapy to avoid injuries, build trust and rapport, and to encourage overall better health. There’s no shortage of Equine massage training programs, making it easy for those who wish to learn how to massage these majestic creatures!

Although Equine massage programs are more pervasive, horses aren’t the only animals you can take professional courses to learn to massage!  There are numerous Canine and Feline massage programs available in both hands-on and virtual classrooms. These specialized animal massage trainings don’t just focus on scaling down techniques used in human massage to fit our four legged companions. They offer education on the anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, kinesiology and pathology of the target animal.  Massage therapists who are interested in learning animal massage can find, and get CE credit for taking, many of these trainings on the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) website.  Individuals can also become certified in animal massage or animal acupressure through the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCCAM) after completing 200 hours of animal massage training, 50 hours of supervised hands-on work, and a minimum of 100 hours additional coursework.

The benefits of massage for animals are the same as the benefits for humans, including a reduction of pain or stiffness, and increased range of motion.  Although our pets may not be able to validate these claims in words, we may be able to infer the benefits when the animal’s appetite improves or when we see an increase in movement after the massage treatment. 

Animal massage trainings and certification offers professional massage therapists who love animals an opportunity to expand their practice in a fun and exciting way!  Animal massage session can be as short as 20 minutes.  Session times vary based on the animals cooperation and size.  Session rates are comparable to what you would charge your human clients! For those who love and want to help animals, but who do not necessarily want to make money from doing so, can utilize their animal massage skills by volunteering at animal shelters or veterinarian clinics!

Have you been trained to perform animal massage?  Tell us about your experience!