By VanEastVet, on Tuesday, September 15th, 2015
I provide massage for animals to improve their quality of life. The benefits are truly endless, beginning with senior dogs with arthritis and mobility issues. Gentle stretches help maintain range of motion, keeping the joints lubricated; massage also helps to slow down muscles atrophy, and improves circulation and digestion. For younger, active dogs massage helps by relieving muscular tension, releasing restrictions and adhesion in turn allowing the dog’s body to be well-balanced and to move efficiently which is an important part in preventing injuries. Massage can also play an important part in post injury or post surgery rehab.
VanEastVet: What motivated you to open All Paws Massage?
Marta Banat: My own Husky, Rocco, was the inspiration and driving force behind it all. At 3 years he was diagnosed with Idiopathic Epilepsy and I had to search for ways to help him deal with the condition. There are so many complementary modalities available now, but I found massage was especially beneficial. I would give him a massage after a seizure as it helped to relax his sore muscles and calm him down. And now as he gets older and is still very active he benefits from regular maintenance bodywork.
My favourite part of the job is definitely seeing the immediate result of my work. Feeling the tense muscles melt under my hands, seeing the dogs relaxing and fall asleep during the session. And then hearing the feedback from owners who report on post session improvements either in gait or behaviour.
The frustrating part is the still existing misconception about animal massage. It’s not a spa treatment and it is not “just another fad”. I had many clients come to me from a veterinarian’s referral admit they used to smirk at the thought of giving their dog a massage until their vet told them their dog would greatly benefit. After seeing improvements they agree that it is a valuable complementary service.
I also find it frustrating when an owner tells me their dog has been limping for two weeks and they hope massage will help, but they haven’t seen their vet. It’s very likely that massage will help, but I don’t provide a service unless the condition has been diagnosed and cleared by a vet, people often get upset about that.
Marta: The process is fairly simple. When a client first contacts me I usually ask a few initial questions: animal type, age, purpose of the session. If the owner has a health concern regarding the dog I ask if they spoke with their veterinarian and if the dog has been cleared for a massage. If the session is for general maintenance of a healthy dog or for a senior dog, I suggest setting up a first session during which a talk to the owner and make an assessment and develop a massage plan depending on the dog’s needs and initial palpation.
VanEastVet: As animal massage is a relatively new practice, do you find there are many misconceptions that you need to dispel?
Marta: Yes, the main one being that massage is nothing more than petting a dog or that anyone can perform a massage after watching a couple of YouTube videos or reading an article.
VanEastVet: Do you have any pets aside from your Husky Rocco?
Marta: I have two cats: Vasco and Ilyich. Vasco is an extremely intelligent and lively Norwegian Forest Cat and he adores his canine brother; Ilyich is a shy and anxious domestic short-hair. All three have been adopted and prove that rescues are amazing family members!
VanEastVet: What are some of your passions outside of work?
Marta: It probably won’t be much of a surprise that my other passions are also animal related. In my free time I like to go horseback riding, hiking with Rocco and spend time fine tuning his training (I love watching Obedience Trials and Rally-O competitions). I also write Bites And Tails, a dog oriented blog, and run A Husky Life, a Facebook page that promotes awareness on K9 Epilepsy and shows that dogs with the diagnosis can still live a happy and full life.
VanEastVet: Are there any online resources that you personally use, or would recommend to others?
VanEastVet: Now, as our first Community Spotlight interview subject, you have the extreme honour of answering the first question in the Ask It Forward thread. That question is: What do you keep in the little cupboards over your fridge at home?
Marta: I have a bunch of cook books and binders and two shakers (?!), neither of which I ever use. And also a “secret” stash of candy and chips…
VanEastVet: And what would you like to ask the next interview subject?
Marta: I’m assuming it’s someone from the pet industry, so I’ll go with “What or who inspired you to work with animals?”
VanEastVet: Thanks, Marta!
* The All Paws Massage studio is located at 650 Industrial Avenue in Vancouver, BC (above Adventure Den), where Marta provides pet massages and massage workshops for pet owners and pet professionals Mondays to Saturdays 9-6. Marta also provides an All Paws Massage mobile service within Vancouver, and provides massage sessions on Tuesday mornings at DogCity Daycare in Point Grey. You can contact All Paws Massage through their site, their Facebook page, or at 604-700-4107.