After a day of destroying the remote control or napping atop the TV, your pet might actually need a massage.
According to animal massage therapists, dogs, cats, birds, guinea pigs and just about every other pet could use your loving touch.
"It's not a luxury. Animals benefit from massage," said Eve Lucia Boucouvalas, who is certified in animal massage through the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. She is also lead canine massage therapist at the Don CeSar Beach Resort and Spa in St. Pete Beach, which allows cats and dogs up to 25 pounds.
"It's preventative," she said. "You can pick up on conditions you might have missed."
Other benefits, she said, include increased blood flow and joint flexibility, support for the animal's immune system and quicker recovery from injuries. There are pluses for the owners, too, including the opportunity to assess your pet's health and a chance to bond with a shelter adoptee or other skittish animal.
Boucouvalas said you should massage your pet for 20 to 45 minutes at least once a month, preferably after exercise but before she eats. Don't massage it if it recently had a fever, shock, open wound, fracture, cancer or skin infection. Consult a vet about pre- and post-surgery rubdowns. Oh, and skip the oils and aromatherapy.
With the help of her Boston terriers Daisy and Dottie, Boucouvalas demonstrated the pet massage basics.