Future Client: Will massage therapy help my pet's anxiety?
Me: Yes, but anxiety is always complicated.
And now for the longer answer…
Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease typically associated with an imminent event or uncertain income. Our pets can experience anxiety for a number of reasons from changes in their routine or schedule, to moving to a new home, loud noises, visual stimuli (hats, umbrellas, wheelchairs and other apparatuses), car rides, introducing a new person or pet into their lives, when a traumatic memory is triggered, or they are forced to confront any new situation—these are mainly fear based anxieties. Separation anxiety (being apart from their humans) is one of the most common anxieties a pet can experience. Anxiety can also develop as they age and is associated with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (memory, learning, perception and awareness decline, leading to confusion and anxiety).
Touch through massage therapy is a comforting and close one-on-one experience which can create a sense of trust, relaxation, and well-being. Pets that have trust issues, anxiety, or that have been neglected or abused at some point in their lives can learn to trust, and gain confidence.
The comfort and feeling of well-being provided by massage helps improve mood and therefore the mental state of an anxious pet. This is important for a number of physical reasons. The mental state of an animal (or human, for that matter) affects the sympathetic nervous system. Shelter dogs, for example, experience stress symptoms including elevated heart rate and blood pressure. Massage therapy helps reduce heart rate and blood pressure, therefore reducing stress, which is important because illnesses gain a foothold when stress diminishes the body's immune system. Massage therapy reduces the physical and mental components of stress, which in turn helps the body feel balanced and rejuvenated, able to defend itself properly.
For pets that are experiencing the stress of recovery from an injury or those in emotional distress from being in the shelter system, mental state is key. Massage therapy stimulates the release of oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins, all of which improve the mental state, which is critical to their rehabilitation. Massage also helps to manage pain, therefore alleviating the associated depression and/or anxiety a pet experiences.
How do you know if your pet is experiencing anxiety?
Dogs experiencing anxiety may experience the following symptoms:
Cats will often develop destructive behaviours that they have not exhibited before, such as scratching furniture or clawing at curtains. They also may:
Massage is a great way to help your pet deal with anxiety, but you can also try aromatherapy via a calming collar, or Bach Flowers Rescue Remedy (via spray or drops), acupuncture or medication — always get the advice, prescription or referral from your veterinarian — that includes massage therapy. You and your vet must always be on the same page when it comes to the mental, physical and emotional health of your pet. There is also the behavioural training option, involving desensitization and counter-conditioning. And don't forget Reiki, a wonderful energetic healing modality (also available through Kuri K9 Massage)!
Thanks for reading!
Want 50% off your next (or first) pet massage session? Email/Call/Text me with the code word ANXIETY when you book — anytime before November 5th, 2019.
Also, keep in mind that a group of three-four massages close together (no more than one week apart each) is the best way to see results quickly. I offer packages of four massages for large dogs ($216), medium/small dogs ($168) and cats ($120), which will save you 20%!
Look for my next post in the series, which deals with how massage helps pets with compensation when injury occurs, Tuesday November 5th, 2019…
Click HERE to read the previous FAQ post...
Click HERE to read the next FAQ post...
And here's the Facebook Live I did for this post:
Regan is a certified Canine Massage Therapist (CCMT), has certification in First Aid and CPR for Pets, and some beginner training in Herbal Remedies and Aromatherapy for personal use.