It’s a well-known fact that owning a pet can work wonders for your mental wellbeing. There’s nothing quite like being greeted at the door by your furry friend after a long, stressful day, right? But how often do you think about your pet’s mental health?
Gone are the days when stress and anxiety remedies like massage and acupuncture were solely reserved for humans. Healing techniques for our four-legged friends are popping up everywhere. And why not? Being cute and cuddly is hard work, after all. They deserve a bit of R&R too.
Take New York Dog Nanny, for instance. The doggy day care features both an in-house and mobile healing clinic, which offers services like Reiki for the city’s chicest pets. The clinic’s website explains that relaxation techniques can help a pet’s immune system work optimally and reduces the risk of your pet getting injured. Relaxed pets also tend to be happier and better behaved.
Here in Australia, holistic clinics like the Sydney-based All Natural Vet Care offer a huge range of healing services including homeopathy, massage, trigger point therapy and flower essences.
Natural therapies for animals are a gentle approach to improving health and vitality. Together with a pet’s family we form their health care team. We work on delivering evidence-based natural therapies in a low stress environment, we incorporate aromatherapy and sound therapy in our treatment rooms as we know stress is counterproductive to healing.These therapies can increase endorphins and our clients often comment on how tranquil their pets seem during and after the therapy.
– Matthew Muir, Integrative Veterinary Surgeon at All Natural Vet Care
But even if you don’t live near a natural vet, there are still plenty of things you can do at home to instil some Zen into your pet’s life.
There are so many benefits of regularly giving your pet a massage. Not only is it relaxing (for both of you), it’s fantastic bonding time and will allow you to be more in touch with their overall health. You’ll be able to notice subtle changes in their skin and coat, which will allow you to flag any potential health issues with a vet ASAP.
Next time you’re watching TV with your pet on the lounge, use the back of your hand to gently stroke them. Start on larger parts of the body like the back, then the belly, legs, and arms. Next, move onto smaller areas like the ears, jaw, chin and between the toes. Make sure you’re not too forceful: unlike humans, pets don’t have the ability to project into the future so they don’t realise relief will come after the initial discomfort.
This Japanese technique (based on the idea of challenging energy through touch) can also be applied to your cuddly companions. The healing practice is said to restore your pet’s sense of peace and balance and lead to increased agility.
You don’t need to be a professional Reiki practitioner to give this technique a go at home. Lightly go over your pet’s energy centres with your hands, scanning for areas with lumps or missing hair that might need more attention. See what areas your pet responds to and focus your touch accordingly.
Considering dogs are tens of thousands times more sensitive to smell than humans (fourteen more times for cats), it makes sense that pets are greatly affected by aromatherapy. The natural therapy is especially useful for calming pets in stressful situations, like thunderstorms, car rides or getting groomed.
Try calming scents like lavender, peppermint, and chamomile in an aromatherapy diffuser or spritz a calming spray like FuzzYard Naturals.