Canine Massage Therapist
That’s right: some people earn money for massaging animals. It might sound a little strange, but apparently many cats and dogs enjoy a good massage as much as humans do.
If you like petting your furry friends, why not explore this option? With a bit of training you can make $50 per hour as a pet massage therapist.
Why Dog Massage?
Just like humans and other animals, dogs feel sore and develop stiff joints due to aging, inactivity or recent exertion, according to Lola Michelin, founder of the Northwest School of Animal Massage. Massage can help alleviate these symptoms, and usually starts with petting the afflicted areas to warm the muscles. Then the therapist will gently and repeatedly compress the muscles to pump fluids through the tissues and to relieve pressure on tendons.
Michelin says “regular massage throughout the life of your pet may help prevent the stiffness and pain that contributes to arthritis.” That’s not a bad sales pitch, but before you offer to massage other people’s pets for money you’ll want to learn the proper techniques. We’ll have more on how to do that in a moment.
What About Cat Massage?
Cats, naturally, are a little pickier about their massages. Maryjean Ballner, author of Cat Massage, suggests starting with a “voice massage, ” which involves repeating an “endearing phrase” using “a soothing tone.” Then you let the cat get familiar with you by sniffing you. Finally, you start the actual massage, using similar techniques to the ones you’d use for a dog.
According to Ballner, cats benefit from massage in several ways:
Physiologically, massage stimulates the body’s nerves, muscles, circulatory system and lymphatic system. It enhances range of motion, increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells, relieves muscle spasms and helps to flush away toxic compounds, such as lactic acid, that cause pain.
Legal Requirements for a Pet Massage Therapist
If you look at a chart of animal massage laws by state, you’ll notice a lot of inconsistency. For example, a few states, including Arizona, Maine and Arkansas, consider massage to be a medical procedure, and therefore restrict the practice to veterinarians.
Other states, including Alabama, Louisiana, Alaska and Delaware, allow unlicensed massage therapists to work with animals, but only in veterinary offices. If you live in one of those states, you’ll have to find a friendly vet willing to hire you.
Some states, including Oregon, South Carolina and Oklahoma, allow veterinarians to delegate this work. In those states you might still need to get certified, but you could work from home if you can convince vets to refer customers to you.