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Animal Massage Therapy Schools and Colleges: How to Choose

Animal massage therapists work to heal injured animals, as well as promote healthy immune systems in animals. They may work under the supervision of a veterinarian. Schools throughout the U.S. offer training programs suitable for aspiring animal massage therapists.

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How to Choose an Animal Massage Therapy School

Animal massage therapists work in a variety of settings including zoos, kennels, grooming facilities and veterinary offices. They may work independently and make house calls. Some therapists specialize in a specific animal, such as dog or horse, while others may be trained in several different animals. Programs are usually available through specialized animal massage therapy schools.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Student-to-teacher ratio and hands-on training
  • Accreditation

Student-to-Teacher Ratio and Hands-On Training

Students may want to consider schools that offer low student-to-teacher ratios in order to receive personalized attention while learning massage techniques and procedures. Schools that employ experienced instructors may provide a more in-depth education for students. Additionally, programs with extensive hands-on experience may be beneficial to aspiring animal massage therapists.


Though no set standards are available for animal massage therapists, individuals may want to look for schools that are accredited by the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM). These programs may prepare students for certification required by some employers.

Overview of Animal Massage Therapy Programs

Small Animal Massage Therapy Program

Small animal massage programs typically cover cats and dogs. Programs award graduates with a certificate of achievement and may include 100-200 hours of coursework and a practicum or internship. These programs provide students with knowledge in small animal anatomy, as well as basic and advanced animal massage and bodywork procedures. Subjects covered may include:

  • Massage theory and practice
  • Animal anatomy and physiology
  • Pathology

Canine Massage Therapy Program

This program is suitable for learners who want to work solely with dogs and may last 6-12 months in duration. This program typically covers all breeds of dogs and includes topics such as:

  • Massage techniques
  • Canine anatomy and physiology
  • Dog handling

Equine Massage Therapy Program

Equine massage programs are for individuals who want to work with horses, and they are typically comprised of 200-300 hours of classes and practical work. In addition to discussing horse breeds, these programs cover:

  • Equine anatomy and physiology
  • Equine pathology
  • Horse handling and safety
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