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Veterinary Rehabilitation,
Fitness and Wellness

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Massage as a Rehab Modality

There are many rehab modalities that contribute to a good quality of life for your pet, one of which is massage. This hands-on approach can offer numerous benefits and is used to help with pain management, recovery from surgery and even as a way to strengthen the bond between owner and pet.

emilyAfter an injury or as an animal ages, massage can provide relief for a bevy of issues. It can improve blood flow in dogs that withcardiovascular issues, manage scar tissue and relieve muscle tension/spasms. In geriatric dogs, massage is a helpful tool to help motivate movement and improve tone in weak muscles.

For animals experiencing emotional issues like anxiety or shyness massage can be an effective tool for management. Erin Kowalski, a nationally certified canine massage therapist, describes a patient who was adverse to touch and seemed highly stressed during obedience class:

“We started slow. I let him come to me in my space rather than move in on his
space. Over time, he let me touch him more and more as he slowly became desensitized. Soon, I was able to perform full massages. After about six months, the owner reported that he was seeking attention from her, something he had never previously done!”



As a dog or cat begins to near the end of their life, massage can be a palliative tool. It can simultaneously provide relief for the pet and the owner.


“Performing massage in this circumstance can sometimes offer the owner a sense of being proactive, that they’re doing something positive for their companion during the end stages.”

It is important to note that most medical conditions for which massage is beneficial require the combined supervision of a veterinarian and a trained massage professional. Integrative Pet Care therapists are trained and certified to perform massage on animals suffering from a variety of ailments in a safe and beneficial way.

Interested in learning how to massage your pet at home? IPC Chicago offers a Pet Massage Basics class. Sign up to receive notifications when our next class is available.