Animal Massage Therapists use hands-on techniques and apply the knowledge of animal anatomy and physiology to improve the physical well being of animals ranging from pet animals to sports animals. Most of these professionals are specialized by certain species such as dog, cat, horse etc, while others work on a mix of large and small animals. They ensure to heal injuries, improve muscle function, promote relaxation, boost the immune system, increase circulation and enhance range of motion in the animal-body’s tissues.
They evaluate their animal clients to locate painful or tense areas of their body. They design and develop necessary treatment plans based on the individual animal’s needs. They may apply medicated liquid on the skin while performing hands-on manipulation of muscle to provide relief to the animals. They also perform physical exercises to animals for better health. In some cases, they may refer their animal- clients to veterinarians or other health care professionals for diagnosis and treatment.
Animal Massage Therapists may choose to practice independently or work closely with other animal health care professionals such as veterinarians, animal chiropractors and animal care technicians, among others. These skilled professionals are employed in variety of settings such as veterinary hospitals, military offices, kennels, grooming salons, pet day cares, equestrian centers, zoos etc. They usually work full time. Sometimes, they may be required to travel in order to provide services to their clients.
To become an Animal Massage Therapist, the aspiring candidates need to earn a two-year associate’s degrees in animal massage therapy from an accredited institution. Equissage is a very well known program for animal massage therapy, which offers certification programs in both equine and canine massage therapy. The common syllabus includes animal anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, hands-on technique, massage assessment etc.
Animal Massage Therapists can obtain exam-based certification from the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure & Massage (NBCAAM).
Job Outlook and Salary
According to the BLS, job opportunities for Animal Massage Therapists may grow 15% from 2012-2022. The average annual salary of an Animal Massage Therapist was $19,910 in 2013.