Does your dog need a massage? Shelah Barr of Happy Hounds Massage gives a massage to Dewie, 2. Practitioners say massage can be a preventive measure for younger animals and rehabilitative for older ones by boosting flexibility, circulation and immunity (AP photos)
Does your dog need a massage?
Lexile

Spa treatments don't stop with people. You won't see any aromatherapy candles around, but animals get massages, too. It's become a regular service that many pet owners value.

"People call me because their dogs are having problems," said Shelah Barr. She is a San Francisco dog massage therapist. "The work I do is important for animals so they have a high quality of life."

Practitioners say massage can be a preventive measure for younger animals and rehabilitative for older ones by boosting flexibility, circulation and immunity. As its popularity continues to grow, primarily among dog and horse owners, so does the debate about regulation. Some veterinarians argue that pet massage is a form of veterinary medicine that requires a license. Whether therapists need one varies by state.

Pet owners spent $4.4 billion last year on "other services." That category includes grooming, training and services such as massage, according to the American Pet Products Association. It tracks national spending trends in the pet industry. That is a 6.1 percent jump in spending from 2012.

Massage sessions can last 30-40 minutes. Therapists travel to homes, hotels and even an owner's workplace, said Barr, who has been practicing in San Francisco since 2006.

"There are a couple of tech companies I go to. They have a quiet office I can go into and work on the animal," said Barr. She typically sees about 15 pets a week.

The treatments don't necessarily mean incense burning around a massage table. Barr is guided by what the dog desires. Sometimes that means the pet chews on a bone the whole time.

Grace Granatelli, an animal masseuse in the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, said she would play new-age music or "spa sounds," which help relax dogs.

In her sessions, Granatelli would have the dog lie down on the floor or its bed. She would start by massaging its neck. She would then move to other areas, including legs and hips. But it's not crucial that the dog lie down or sit still.

The American Veterinary Medical Association classifies animal massage as a form of veterinary care that should require a license. It is up to each state's veterinary licensing board whether to categorize it that way.

"We do consider them veterinary procedures. And we feel the same standards should be used because a lot of harm can come from them," association assistant director Adrian Hochstadt said.

Carol Forrest, a former client of Granatelli's, said her Dachshunds, Maxie and Lucy, got regular massages for five years. The two were able to relax after a massage despite dealing with issues such as arthritis. Forrest said she believes massage benefits dogs as much as people.

Critical thinking challenge: Why is quiet or soothing music part of the massage treatment?

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COMMENTS (73)
  • DulcineaC-Cal
    12/02/2014 - 11:41 a.m.

    dogs that get the masages are more relaxed after the masage they might have a desieses but the masage helps them with the disconfort they might have.

  • DakotaS-Cal
    12/02/2014 - 11:50 a.m.

    A woman in San Francisco named Shelah Barr decided spa's shouldn't just be for humans, but also for dogs. And so the "Dog Spa" was created.

  • RobertS-Cal
    12/02/2014 - 12:21 p.m.

    This article is about giving your dog a massage. In 2012 there was a 6.1 persent jump in masages.

  • CamrynSchornak-Pet
    12/02/2014 - 01:00 p.m.

    opinion: i think hat dogs one in a blue moon could get massages i think it would be funny and cool to watch how they do this and were to go if you want to massage your own dog at home.

    connection: i have a dog 2 dogs at home and I'm training one but i rub his belly and pet him.

    i learned: i learned that people spend alto of money on there dogs they spend million $ for there dog to get a massage i think that it is TO MUCH!!!!!

  • ZoeR-Cal
    12/02/2014 - 02:32 p.m.

    I never saw some one message a dog be for cool can you massage cats to?because i have 3 cats that wont stop fighting ever sens i got mi families 3 cat Loki we called him Loki because he is mischievous.

  • kaiab-bra
    12/03/2014 - 08:08 a.m.

    The quiet or soothing music is part of the massage treatment because in the text it said,"Grace Granatelli, an animal masseuse in the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, said she would play new-age music or "spa sounds," which help the relax the dogs."

  • Joseph119
    12/03/2014 - 08:21 a.m.

    why would people waste there money just to have there dog massaged ok i know that people love there pets. people are going poor cause of stuff like that i know people love there pets and try to best for them but why risk wasting your money on massages not to sound rude or mean or anything just putting it out there I'm only twelve and i have a dog myself and i love her very much but i would't wast amy money on a massage for my dog

    • patrick119
      12/03/2014 - 09:09 a.m.

      because they can do what they wanna do if they wanna waste there money on a1 massage for there dog they can do that or if they were smarter they could look up videos on youtube and learn how to give their dog a massage so thats my intelligent answer

    • patrick119
      12/03/2014 - 09:26 a.m.

      Because they can do what they wanna do if they wanna waste there money on a massage for there dog they can do that or if they were smarter they could look up videos on youtube and learn how to give their dog a massage so thats my intelligent answer.

  • Katlyn119
    12/03/2014 - 09:08 a.m.

    this is a pretty good story it talking about how dogs stay clam when giving a massage the music help relax
    the music is loud so they can sleep or do what ever.

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