Ask the Expert: Knead Animal Massage

This month, we interviewed Danielle from Knead Animal Massage! Knead Animal Massage provides gentle massage for your pets right in the comfort of your home. Please call (503) 894-5851 or visit their website to learn more about the benefits of massage for animals!

 Knead Animal Massage

Can you tell us why pet massage is so important?

Massage has many similar benefits for animals as it does for humans. Regular, consistent bodywork can relieve muscle tension, reduce stiffness, improve range of motion, promote relaxation and reduce anxiety. Paired with proper veterinary care, there are many ways your pet can benefit from massage!

Why did you choose to become an animal massage therapist?

Danielle and her dog

While working as a certified veterinary technician, I was introduced to animal massage by a colleague who explained how massage could benefit my own senior dog’s mobility. I learned a few simple techniques and was amazed at the difference in my pup’s demeanor! Over time, I noticed he was happier, more active, and was even playing with his toys again.

I decided to register for massage courses through the Northwest School of Animal Massage right here in the Pacific Northwest. As a result, I was certified to perform massage on animals professionally in 2017.

What are the biggest misconceptions about massage for pets?

A dog relaxing with cucumber slices over its eyes

I think many people view massage for animals as glorified petting. While I absolutely love petting dogs and spending time with them, massage is actually so much more than that! There are many techniques that a trained animal massage practitioner performs that can make a world of difference in your pet’s quality of life. 

If I’m unable to get access to professional massages for my pet, what’s the most impactful thing I can do? Specifically, are there any techniques that I can try right now on my pet?

Animals in the wild communicate affection for other members of their family through close contact, grooming and gentle play. Most pet owners are more than happy to provide these things in the home.  

As long as your pet is accepting, positive touch such as petting, gentle brushing, and light ear scratches are wonderful ways to provide loving care for your pets and can strengthen the human-animal bond. 

If you're not sure, or actually want to go deeper into pet massage, there are several local workshops in Portland where you can learn the proper techniques to safely perform massage on your own pets.

Do you have any products you like to recommend?

I often recommend my clients speak to their pet’s veterinarian about joint health supplements and proper diet. These are both important in maintaining our pets’ overall well-being and comfort. Regular nail trims are also recommended as long nails are uncomfortable and can affect the way your pet positions their feet while walking and standing.

What do people not know about pet massage?

Danielle massaging the front leg of a dog

Animal massage has been “around” for a long time! Evidence of canine and equine massage has been recorded throughout history. Pet massage is not just a fad: it's used in racing horses, working dogs, and pets alike. It is said that even Julius Caesar required his personal masseuse to perform massage on his dogs during extended travel.

Are there right and wrong ways to “pet” my pet?

I often encourage my clients to pet and observe their dogs and cats on a daily basis, and to take note of any changes in their pet’s movement, activity level or demeanor. Learning what is “normal” for your pet can help you to determine when something new arises.

If I want to become an animal massage therapist, what do I have to do?

Dog on a massage table

There are many great local and national programs available if you hope to learn more about animal massage. You can benefit from classes whether your goal is to perform massage on your own personal pets only, or if you’d like to massage animals professionally. Search for classes that include a hands-on practical -- these are considered the most thorough.

Is there anything else we should know?

I love meeting other animal lovers in Portland! I often have a booth set up at local events throughout the year so if you see me out and about, please stop by to say hello. You can also find Knead Animal Massage on Facebook and Instagram!