By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN A new service, therapeutic animal massage, is now being offered at Cattail Corners in Howard Lake one Saturday per month through animal massage therapist Jenny DeLorme, owner of Petstretch.
DeLorme will also be offering a class to teach pet owners the basics of animal massage, and a number of demonstrations are being planned for Good Neighbor Days weekend.
“Animals have always played an important role in my life,” DeLorme said. “Having been raised with dogs, cats, horses, and livestock, I was taught the importance of respect for all animals and the care that we must give them.”
DeLorme lives in Buffalo with her husband and four dogs all whom receive massage for different reasons.
Pudge is a 9-year-old lab mix recovering from surgery for a ligament tear; Riddick is a sporty and active 4-year-old lab mix and massage keeps him agile; Eddy is a 14-year-old lab diagnosed with untreatable cancer who is comforted and relaxed with massage; and Kaiser is a 9-year-old Boxer with severe arthritis who retains his mobility with massage.
Love for her own animals led her to becoming a certified veterinary assistant in 2004, she said.
Before that, DeLorme, who has been riding horses her whole life, was a horse trainer and worked closely with the veterinarians caring for the horses.
“While working in the medical field, I became focused on the benefits of more natural options in pain management and helping heal the whole animal mind, body, and spirit not just the symptoms,” DeLorme said. DeLorme worked in a veterinary clinic as an assistant for about seven years before she turned her attention to growing her massage therapy practice.
“It’s been my focus for two years now, but my preparation started a long time ago,” she said.
She chose the path she is on now for a number of reasons.
On a personal level, DeLorma became the owner of a dog diagnosed with spondylosis, or severe arthritis in the spine. Through the guidance of a veterinarian, the dog was placed on anti-inflammatory medications and pain killers.
“But that is like putting a Band-aid on a blow hole rather than working on the real problem,” she said, noting that her dog was young at the time, and she did not want to submit him to a lifetime of medication.
“I started looking into the benefits of massage, and saw immediate results,” DeLorme said.
The last time his spine was x-rayed, it still looked pretty bad, she said, “but he still has mobility.”
Another reason DeLorme decided to focus her career on therapeutic animal massage is the shift she was seeing in client requests they were looking for more holistic, natural treatments.
“I saw a need and a want for this type of therapy,” DeLorme said.
DeLorme is not only certified in therapeutic animal massage, but she also is certified in Reiki and aromatherapy, two things that enhance the therapeutic massages offered.
Reiki is an energy healing method that originated in Japan and translates as “universal life energy,” DeLorme said.
Although it has been primarily used for healing people, it has recently become a widely-used complement to traditional animal care.
“Because Reiki is healing energy, it will never harm your pet. The techniques are non-invasive, and I apply them during your pet’s massage,” DeLorme said. “Reiki helps bring comfort to your pet physically, emotionally, and mentally.”
Aromatherapy dates back to ancient Egypt, using essential oils from flowers, leaves, roots, or bark diluted in a carrier oil and used during massage, according to DeLorme.
“When your pet senses the oils, electrical impulses are sent to the brain where memories and emotions are stored,” DeLorme said. “Your pet’s body releases chemicals such as serotonin, which has a calming effect; noradrenalin, which rejuvenates; and endorphins, which help relieve pain.”
DeLorme can customize the use of essential oils and aromatherapy based on a pet’s needs, she added, noting she only uses the highest quality oils that have been proven safe for animals.
DeLorme is continually learning new techniques that enhance the therapy she offers to pets, and she can work on any type of animal.
Although she is not currently certified for large animal massage therapy, that is one of her goals for this year.
“Your pet doesn’t have to be hurt, sore, or old to benefit from massage,” DeLorme said, noting the number of massage sessions recommended will vary from pet to pet.
Multiple sessions on a regular basis are ideal for older animals and pets recovering from an injury, while monthly sessions help maintain wellness in healthy pets.
Pet owners who worry their animals will not like receiving a massage should be aware that DeLorme allows the animal to dictate when the massage will start and end, she said.
“I try to understand the different needs and emotions of each animal, creating a customized massage especially for them,” DeLorme said. “I want the animal to feel happy, sunshiny, unicorn goodness.”
The benefits of animal massage are many, DeLorme noted. When used alone or in conjunction with care provided by a veterinarian, massage has been shown to be effective for:
• hip dysplasia
• joint pain
• spondylosis (severe arthritis in the spine)
• neck pain
• muscle strain/stiffness
• separation anxiety/destructive behavior
• aggression/difficulty in handling
• recovery after knee or joint surgery
• rehabilitating muscles
• general comfort/wellness
Those wishing to take advantage of DeLorme’s services in Howard Lake can contact Cattail Corners at (320) 543-3511 to make an appointment.