Massage and healing touch for animals in the veterinary clinic

Massage and healing touch can be used to enhance patient well being, and both are within the scope of CVT guidelines.

Massage and Healing Touch for Animals® (HTA) are two wonderful therapeutic modalities that enable you, the credentialed veterinary technician, to improve patient well being. Since they do not use medication, these modalities are within the scope of CVT guidelines, although you must learn how to perform them properly. Classes are available across North America.

1. Massage

Massage therapy has long been used in human hospitals, rehabilitation facilities and private practice. Many of these same techniques have been incorporated into use with animals. Massage can improve a number of your patients’ conditions, such as muscle spasms, tendonitis, arthritis, strains, sprains, hip and elbow dysplasia.


• Relieves pain.

• Breaks adhesions and realigns scar tissue to enable these areas to function more normally.

• Promotes improved venous return, arterial and lymphatic circulation, and lessens recovery time from surgery, thus providing an improved response to treatment protocols, and speeding the healing process.

• Improves the pet’s mental attitude, which can result in a more rapid return to normal, increasing the body’s ability to heal itself.

Important: when we discuss the benefits of massaging your patients, we must also talk about situations in which massage is contraindicated. You cannot massage areas in which surgery was performed, nor bruises (hematomas), acute fractures/dislocations, and areas of infection or local inflammation. Massage techniques can be employed adjacent to these areas, but not directly to them. Pregnant animals also should not be massaged.

Massaging your patient does not have to be an extensive procedure. If you have an older animal hospitalized in your clinic who is suffering from arthritis or stiffness, massage techniques as an adjunct to your normal treatment plan will give him the ability to lie comfortably in a kennel. This can have dramatic results in his attitude and your ability to treat him successfully. As you become more skilled at massage and see the benefits, you will want to offer your skills to all your patients as an adjunct to prescribed treatment.

First, of course, you must make sure you have the veterinarian’s approval and that the animal is willing to be massaged. Remember – we are only successful in treating our patients if they’re willing to accept our intervention.

2. Healing Touch for Animals

The second therapeutic modality I want to discuss – one that’s a tremendous adjunct to a patient’s healing process – is Healing Touch for Animals (HTA). Energy based healing touch has been recognized by human medicine since 1989 and is used by more than 75,000 healthcare practitioners worldwide. Healing Touch for Animals takes a holistic approach, influencing the health and well being of animals through energy and intention.

All animals and people have an energy field around them. Any traumatic situation, whether it’s elective surgery, receiving a vaccination, a visit to the veterinarian’s clinic or hospital, or even receiving preventive medications, may interrupt the normal flow of energy in the body. Healing Touch for Animals combines philosophies and applications that promote energy balance and healing while providing physical, emotional, mental and instinctual stability. Stabilizing the energy system allows natural regulation of the immune system, which in turn stimulates the healing process and promotes well being.

Healing Touch for Animals uses energy medicine therapies, recognized by the National Institute of Health, to integrate, balance and clear the energy body, partly through a release of endorphins. Establishing deeper relaxation results in increased vascular circulation that provides more oxygen, nutrients and hormones to the body to support healing. HTA techniques work on all levels of the body: physical, mental, emotional and instinctual. These techniques also allow the animal to become more attuned to self-healing.


• Assists with pain of injuries.

• Promotes wound healing from surgery or injuries.

• Speeds recovery from any type of illness.

• Helps the animal understand appropriate behavior in certain situations.

• Builds a better animal – human bond.

• Reduces stress and anxiety.

• Improves ability to cope with illness, physical and emotional trauma.

• Reduces memories of abuse and helps the pet through the grieving process of losing a companion or owner.

These techniques not only work in human medicine but have shown extensive success in the veterinary field. Note that healing touch techniques are designed to enhance the healing process and do not replace traditional medical or veterinary healthcare, medical diagnosis, or medical treatment for illness. These techniques for animals are meant to complement traditional healthcare. Again, you will need to have your veterinarian approve of integrating this powerful modality into the practice.


These are only two of the many alternatives to traditional medicine, and both may be practiced by credentialed veterinary technicians within the scope of their everyday healthcare duties. It is rewarding to be able to interact one-on-one with patients beyond following treatment protocols supplied by the attending veterinarian. Having the ability to supplement a patient’s healthcare can be a rewarding experience and allows the technician to feel like a true participant within the healthcare team.


Jack Stewart first worked in a companion animal clinic, then was associated for 27 years with the Maryland Veterinary Technology Program at The Community College of Baltimore County. He served as the program's director for the last 12 years. After completing his training in Canine Massage and Healing Touch for Animals, he integrated that training into courses within the Veterinary Technology Program. He then created the Alternative Therapeutic Modality course which encourages veterinary technician students to explore holistic aspects of pet health care.