Massaging your pets can provide stress relief for you and your pets
We have known for a long time that massage can be very beneficial. In particular, getting a massage can help people relieve their stress. What many people do not realize, however, is that massaging their pets can be stress relieving too, not only for them but also for their pets. Research has show that petting a dog reduces the heart rate of the person and the dog. Research also has shown that it prevents the elevation of blood cortisol levels in the pet, an indicator of stress.
According to Amy Marder, VMD, massages can be very calming and soothing for pets and their owners. Dr. Marder is a clinical assistant professor at the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine and the vice president of Behavioral Medicine and Companion Animal Services at the ASPCA Headquarters in New York City. She urges that if you decide to try using massage on your pets, you should first have your pets examined by a veterinarian. A veterinarian would be able to help you find the right places to massage on your pets, so you do not hurt them and they do not bite or scratch you in return.
Several different kinds of massages can be used. Regardless of the type of massage, however, Dr. Marder emphasizes that you should always let yourself be guided by your pet's reactions, paying particular attention to the eyes. You should also never force massage on pets. When they are done, they are done.
If you are interested in learning how to massage your pets, one book that Dr. Marder recommends is The Healing Touch: The Proven Massage Program for Cats and Dogs by Michael W. Fox, DSc, PhD. (For you convenience, this book is available through Stress Less. Please click here for more information.)
Source: Marder, A. (1999). Healthy pet. Prevention, 51(8), 165-166, 168, 170-171.