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Published: Dec 01, 2011

Dogs and cats are susceptible to developing chronic conditions such as hip displaysia, joint disease or even more serious problems like cancer. Although traditional treatments such as anti-inflammatories and pain medications are commonly used to address these problems, sometimes massage therapy can help a dog or cat feel better.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, massage therapy is a form of rehabilitation and is the "application of specific hand movements on a patient to improve muscle and joint function by relieving tension, spasm or other restrictions to proper motion." This type of therapy can be used during warm-up sessions or for relaxing or stimulating the muscles of an animal to prevent further injuries from occurring. Aside from helping muscle function, the act has been suggested to increase circulation and stimulate internal organs.

VCA reports that massage therapy has long been used to keep race horses in top condition before, after, and in between races. Now, the method is being used commonly in both dogs and cats, and some veterinarian health clinics are even using massage or acupressure therapies on reptiles, according to VCA.

This form of therapy should never be performed on an animal who has an open or infected wound, a torn muscle or inflammatory arthritis. Ask your veterinarian if massage therapy might be right for your pet.