If you’re a pet owner, at some point you’ve probably attempted to massage that furry little critter. Whether the goal was to soothe your buddy during a storm or just to make them feel better, you’ve likely tried to work a little magic on their muscles. It’s natural to default to massage since we know how soothing and calming it is for us, but to get the most benefit there are a few tricks that will make that sweet friend feel even better.
Location, location, location
To start you want to make sure you’re in a calm area of your house away from distractions and loud noises. Sit with them on their bed, pull them up onto the couch, or find a space special just for this time. This is especially helpful if you’re working on bonding with a new pet.
Start with what they’re used to
It’s always a good idea, especially the first few massages you give when working with a new pet, or soothing one after a stressful event, to start with something familiar. Begin with soft petting strokes, usually around the head, something they’re accustomed to feeling every day.
Now start the real work
With the flat of your fingers, press into the muscles behind their ears and start making little circles, slowly working your way down the neck and around to the shoulders. You can work this same way throughout the entire body and down their legs, staying to focus more on muscles you feel are tense or those that you think may have a problem going on. Make small and large circles, knead the muscles and skin, and don’t be afraid to get creative. If they show signs of discomfort, whimpering, pulling away, or even snapping, stop and return to some of your everyday petting strokes to calm them. The top of the head and the base of the tail are usually going to immediately put them at ease.
Massaging your pet can be relaxing and calming for them and for you. It can also help improve your bond with them. Doing this once a week doesn’t just relax them more in their environment, it may also help you catch some health issues early on. Try to take a mental note of how every muscle and joint feel. When you notice a difference, talk to your vet to be sure it’s nothing to worry about. Try these techniques on your pet the next time you have a few extra minutes and get even more enjoyment out of your time together.