From tolerating your endlessly staged Instagram photos to being the ultimate cuddle buddy, your canine (or feline) BFF offers you endless opportunities to de-stress.
But what happens when your pet is the one who’s out of whack? Turns out, you can turn to the same wellness methods you use on yourself.
A growing number of services, like reiki, massage, and aromatherapy, are now focusing on a decidedly more furry clientele. And considering that they can reduce anxiety and help you bond, the benefits can be vast.
“When a pet is relaxed, its own built-in immune system can really work to the pet’s advantage,” says Cynthia Okimoto of New York Dog Nanny, which offers a full range of healing modalities for New York City’s (chicest) pets.
And you can get in on the action at home. Together with ORGANIX®, the leader in organic dog food, we turned to Okimoto to find out simple ways you can utilize these modalities in your own pad.
Scroll down for three easy techniques to give your dog or cat some extra healing attention at home.
We can all agree that a quality rubdown is super relaxing—and animals are no different. “Regularly applying touch to your pet can be a great way to stay in touch with their overall health,” says Okimoto. “You will notice any changes in their skin and coat, and be more equipped to report any concerns in a timely manner to a vet or an animal healer.”
Notice your pet’s fur is looking less than glossy? A lackluster coat could be due to a lack of omega-3s in their diet (switching to food rich in healthy fats, like ORGANIX®, can help). Be aware of how your pet feels as you follow these steps:
1. Use the back of your hand to gently stroke your pet.
2. Monitor your own breath (the calmer you are, the calmer your pet will be).
3. Start on larger parts of the body, like the back, and then move to the belly, legs, the inside of the legs and arms, and finally the smaller areas like ears, chin, jaw, and between the toes.
If you have an essential oil diffuser on hand, it might surprise you that you aren’t the only one potentially reaping its benefits. “Aromatherapy can help relax the brain and body, which may help in certain stressful situations such as thunder storms, meeting a new person, or getting groomed,” says Okimoto.
The next time your pet needs calming, try diffusing soothing lavender (which can also help with car rides), frankincense (a reputed immunity booster), or valerian (known for its sedative and anti-anxiety properties). FYI: Misting scent notes in the air is all good, but don’t add essential oils to your pet’s food without checking with your vet first.
Just as for humans, pet reiki aims to increase the flow of energy throughout the body and disrupt any blockages in energy pathways, or chakras. When that’s accomplished, Okimoto says, you can restore the body to balance and even improve the immune system.
“Benefits also include a healthier relationship with the owner or other household pets, a more oxygenated blood stream, and increased agility,” she adds. Reiki practitioners put in years of meditative practice to become more skilled at working with energy, but Okimoto says even if you’re a novice, you can give at-home hands-on healing a try.
1. Gently go over each of the energy centers (or chakras) with your hands, from head to tail. Remember, this isn’t a massage—so a light touch will do.
2. Scan your pet’s body for areas that may have lumps, missing hair, or growths. Beyond offering clues on areas that need extra attention, this is a good way to monitor your pet’s health, so you can report any issues to your vet.
3. See what areas the pet responds to, and focus accordingly.