- Massage increases the blood supply to muscles, bringing much needed oxygen and nutrients to the muscle tissues. Supporting this basic function becomes even more important as a pet ages.
- Massage strokes can help prevent lesions as well as loosening and stretching muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Massage helps increase range of motion, allowing more free movement and gained strength. As well, increased muscle tone equals increased elasticity. As a pet ages, the probability of joint issues, including arthritis increases. Massage becomes not only a preventive measure but a method of relieving pain caused by muscle spasm and tightness in tendons and ligaments.
- Massage also prevents muscle atrophy in inactive, compensating muscles--an issue many older dogs and cats face. Nourished joints are also well lubricated joints, which helps to maintain or increase range of motion. Massage improves circulation overall, affecting the flow of blood, encouraging veins to carry away waste products, and arteries to carry a steady flow of oxygen and nutrients to keep cells healthy.
- Lymphatic circulation is also increased by massage, draining lymph fluid into glands where it can be cleansed of toxins. The boost massage gives to the circulatory system can be extra helpful to senior pets, but contraindications must also be considered, as aged pets are more likely to suffer heart-related conditions and possibly cancer (though light massage therapy can often still be performed, providing relief to superficial muscles).
- Massage improves lung conditions by increasing the flow of blood (and therefore, the flow of oxygen, assisting the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide).
Check out this footage of a massage with senior pupster, Ziggy!
Read on for more ways massage therapy helps support the health of senior pets...
- The heat created by massage even softens fat tissue, breaking down solid fat deposits - coupled with a scheme of weight reduction and exercise, this can help slim a dog down. Older dogs and cats are a little more likely to be overweight or even obese.
- The experience of touch and massage is also a very comforting, close, one-on-one experience which can create a sense of trust, relaxation, and well-being. This psychological boost can impact their physical health as well. 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. It is especially important to keep an older pet's immune system in tip top shape, as an older body has more difficulty fighting off illnesses.
- The psychological boost massage gives also helps senior pets that are susceptible to depression, diminished mental function and decreased nerve activity.
- Improvement of the senior dog's coat and skin, an increase in body temperature, warming the muscles are also factors to consider where massage therapy can help.
- Greater energy and a feeling of rejuvenation is the overall benefit of massage therapy to mature dogs and cats.