Animal Massage is becoming the up and coming massage specialty. Working with animals such as horses, dogs, zoo animals and even wild animals can be part of a career in massage therapy. Massage can help animals recover from injuries such as muscle strains and sprains and help relieve the pain of arthritis. It can be used to reduce stress and help maximize performance especially in sport horses or canine competitors.
If you would like to learn animal massage and begin a career working with animals you will first need to know what licensing is required in your state. Currently there are a few states that require extra training to do animal massage. That is usually on top of or in addition to having a license to professionally massage people. If there aren’t any laws regarding this you can expect that there may be veterinarians requiring that people who work with animals have adequate training.
Working with animals requires that you be proficient in animal anatomy and physiology as well as with massage theory and practice. You will also have to start your own business working with animals. There may be a few jobs working in veterinary clinics but currently jobs in animal massage are very limited. This is a very new field in the massage profession. Most will start their own business.
There are classes specifically geared towards horses and dogs which are also performance animals. Using massage on these types of animals can enhance their performance and help in rehabilitation of injuries and various conditions.
Animal Massage Therapy Laws
The laws around massaging animals professionally vary by state and many states do not YET allow massage therapists or animal massage therapists to work on animals legally. The veterinarians in most states are the only one’s able to provide animal massage, but many states are creating licensing laws and education requirements to allow people to become animal massage therapists.
States like Washington have created an certified animal practitioner category under the department of health, massage therapists category. WA State Law.
Animal Massage Laws by state: https://www.massagetherapywiki.com/animal-massage-therapy-laws/
The History of Animal Massage
Robert Calvert, in his book “The History of Massage” talks about how the Arabs in the Middle ages used ‘friction’ and rubbed their horses with their hands.
“The earliest mention in English Texts of this practice is from Walter Johnson. He writes: ‘In ancient, as in modern times, friction was considered very conducive to the health of animals. In England this is accomplished by the curry-comb, or a wisp of straw, but in India, as in ancient Greece, the groom rubs his horse with his naked hand.”
Jack Meagher was one of the first to bring Equine Sports Massage into popularity with his book “Beating Muscle Injuries in Horses“.
The Tellington Touch was one of the first types of massage that worked with all animals. Linda Tellington Jones created it to work with zoo animals such as boa constrictors and elephants. These animals were developing stress conditions due to their confinement in close quarters. I have even heard of a massage therapist using massage on wild Trumpeter Swans that have been injured in the wild and are in rehabilitation. She has also authored many books on the topic of hands on work and training of animals, horses, dogs and even cats.
Articles on Animal Massage
For Pets and Practitioners, Animal Massage is a “Paws”itive Experience By Rebecca J. Razo Massage Today
Animal Massage Touching All Creatures, Great and Small By Shirley Vanderbilt Massage and Bodywork Magazine
Animal Massage Meet Their Need For Touch By Patricia Whalen-Shaw Massage and Bodywork Magazine