Healing Hands for Pets
Amy Chalsma Schlieve opened Elite Performance Massage in early 2018. She has had several dogs of her own over the years, and a few horses. Her experience riding horses and doing dressage led her to realize how beneficial massage can be to the equine athlete. She also had a dog with a health challenges who also benefited from massage.
To learn how, she did a home study course for both equine and canine massage through Equissage, based in Virginia. This course involved reviewing several case studies, a written exam, and a final massage. During her studies, she practiced regularly on her own horse and dogs.
The benefits of massage for these pets are similar to the benefits of human massage, and include:
Enhanced muscle tone
Increased range of motion
Increased the flow of nutrients to the muscles, carrying away excessive fluids and toxins
Promotion of the release of endorphins, which are a natural painkiller
Help maintaining the WHOLE body in better physical condition
Relief of stiffness and swelling
Relaxation and stress reduction
Schlieve explains: “For very active and athletic dogs and horses, massage increases the flexibility of soft tissue and improves athletic performance. They also recover faster, and their overall health improves through increased flow of nutrients to injured muscles. If your horse or dog is injured, recently had a surgery, or is older and less active, massage helps with the loosening and softening of scar tissue and prevents atrophy in inactive muscles. Massage lengthens connective tissue, resulting in reduction in the formation of adhesions that could lead to fibrosis.”
For the most part, massage is highly beneficial to your horse or dog, but it should not be used as a substitute to the care of a veterinarian. Your dog or horse should not receive a massage when they are in shock, have a fever, or are experiencing cancer.
How often can a pet get a massage? Schlieve says, “It depends on several variables, so it can range from a few times a week to only as needed. I strongly believe in good communication with the owner to ensure that we develop a treatment plan that is most beneficial to their animal.”
Post-massage your dog or horse should have access to water they can drink when they are thirsty. It is recommended that you walk the animal for five minutes after the massage to prevent after-massage stiffness.
For more information, visit the Elite Performance Therapeutic Massage page on Facebook or call (715) 577-1558.