Canine and Feline Massage Therapy is a Thing!

It’s been around for a number of years now, but it remains an unknown service to many. 

Why would my pet need a massage, you may ask? Well, there are many reasons—a lot of them very similar to why we humans can benefit from massage therapy.

Massage can benefit your pet family member both physically and psychologically. It is the manual manipulation of tissue, which helps prevent lesions, loosen and stretch muscles, improve range of motion for freer movement and gain strength. An increased muscle tone equals increased elasticity. Blood circulation is stimulated as well, which nourishes bones, keeps joints lubricated, improves flow of oxygen and nutrients to cells, and helps lymphatic circulation, too.

The experience of touch can also be comforting, creating a sense of trust, relaxation, and well-being. Pets with trust issues, anxiety, or that have been neglected or abused can learn to trust, and gain confidence. The psychological boost can also impact their immune system by reducing the physical and mental components of stress, which in turn helps the body feel balanced, rejuvenated, and able to defend itself.

For active pets, massage can improve physical abilities and athletic performance, while also minimizing potential for injury.  For animals with injuries, massage reduces recovery time. This therapy is also a good early detection system of possible health changes.

Now you know why. But how does it all work? 

When you book an appointment with me, one of the first things I’ll do is send you a case history form to fill out and return. This gives me an overview of your pet’s medical health and lifestyle. It will also indicate to me whether your dog or cat might have any contraindications to massage therapy. This would mean that massage therapy should either be avoided or modified depending on the animal’s condition. This is also the point that I ask you to be in touch with your veterinarian, to make sure they are aware your pet will be receiving massage therapy, and so they have the opportunity to let us both know if there are any contraindications they are aware of. It’s always best for all members of your pet’s health team to work together!

For a list of contraindications, check out my webpage that covers most concerns here:

Once we’ve booked our appointment, which will take place at your home or somewhere your pet is familiar and comfortable with – I come to you! On this first visit, I will assess your pet. This involves my observations of your dog or cat standing still (from several different angles), then your pet in motion (walking past me, then walking away from me, then towards me). I will also do a palpation of your pet to feel for any differences in muscle tone, body temperature, and areas of sensitivity. Then once that’s finished, we can begin the massage!

For a “regular” massage session, which is usually the case for the very first appointment (other types of massage, like lymphatic drainage, sports massage, and reflexology, are used for very specific purposes and usually don’t happen until later, if appropriate), I do a full body Swedish massage. This involves strokes known as effleurage (pressure in the palm of my hand, with the lay of the fur), raking (pressure in the fingertips), petrissage (a stroke involving my thumbs), and kneading. Stimulating strokes are employed afterward, and not in all cases, as sometimes only the soothing strokes I previously mentioned are preferred. 

Don’t be surprised if it takes more than one appointment for your pet to become used to massage therapy. It can strike an animal as very weird at first, as they are usually not familiar with this particular kind of touch and the depth involved. Some pets are very relaxed and have a lovely snooze afterwards. Some are energized and ready to go out and play! It’s also not unusual for them to be thirsty or need to urinate shortly after the session. Be aware that it is best that your pet has not eaten 90 minutes prior to their massage appointment, and if possible, not for 90 minutes afterwards (except for treats that may help them settle down for the appointment itself). 

You’ll find massage therapy to not only be a very pleasant way for your pet to find comfort, but also an important component of your pet’s ongoing healthcare plan.

Find more information on pet massage therapy, as well as my background on

And check out some pet massage videos on the Kuri K9 Massage YouTube Channel:

Article by Regan Macaulay, Owner of Kuri K9 Massage

After extensive training through Treetops Animal Massage Certification Program (Ontario), I started my mobile business, Kuri K9 Massage in 2013 to help Toronto and GTA pets live healthier, happier lives by relieving physical and emotional pain and tension, thereby also relieving stress for fur baby moms and dads—boosting quality of life together for longer. I offer Swedish massage therapy to dogs and cats young and old, as well as reflexology, lymphatic drainage massage, sports massage, acupressure, and hydrotherapy wraps, as well as distance Reiki.


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