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Canine Massage Therapy Training Program and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a canine massage therapist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Canine massage therapists typically work in veterinary or massage therapy fields and pursue canine massage as an additional skill set. These professionals practice massage therapy in much the same way as massage therapists for humans, applying pressure to aid healing, stress relief, and flexibility, as well as providing dog owners with information that can be used at home. Canine massage therapy is usually studied in conjunction with a traditional massage therapy or veterinary education, though some states do allow canine massage therapists to practice with written consent of the animal's owner. This career is a great option for people who want a hands-on approach to veterinary medicine or for massage therapists looking to broaden their range of knowledge.

Required Education Postsecondary certification up to a doctoral degree, depending on state requirements.
Certification Many states require training in veterinary medicine to practice canine massage therapy professionally. Voluntary certification is available through the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure & Massage.
Projected Job Growth for Massage Therapists (2012-2022)* 23%
Median Salary for Massage Therapists (2013)* $35,920

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Training Programs in Canine Massage Therapy

Training programs in canine massage usually award certificates. These programs vary widely in length, from one course unit to several weeks or 600 hours. Some of these programs cover various types of massage therapy, while others focus only on canine massage. Training is typically aimed at massage therapists or veterinary professionals who wish to add canine massage to their practice.

Students learn massage techniques for relaxation and rehabilitation. Coursework may cover canine body language and behavior, musculoskeletal anatomy, soft tissue palpation, pain recognition, medications, acupressure, first aid and sports massage.

Canine Massage Therapy Career Information

Some professionals - such as veterinary technicians, massage therapists, physical therapists, veterinarians and dog trainers - may learn canine massage therapy to enhance their job skills. Canine massage therapists typically verify that their patients have veterinary care before assessing their history and massage needs. Once the dog's needs are determined, the therapist applies various forms of pressure to the musculoskeletal system to help with healing, stress relief or flexibility. The therapist may also instruct dog owners in techniques to use at home.

Career Prospects and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), veterinary technicians, who are counted along with veterinary technologists, are expected to see job growth of 30% from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). Meanwhile, during that same decade, massage therapy jobs are predicted to grow by 23%, physical therapy jobs are predicted to increase by 36%, veterinarian jobs are estimated to grow by 12%, and dog trainer jobs (counted among all animal care and service workers) are expected to grow 15%.

The BLS reported that the median salary for veterinary technician jobs (counted by the BLS along with veterinary technologist jobs) was $30,500. In that same year, the median salary for massage therapists was $35,920, and for physical therapists it was $81,030. According to the BLS, veterinarians earned a median salary of $86,640, and animal trainers earned a median salary of $25,320.

Licensure and Certification

According to the American Massage Therapy Association, licensure for canine massage therapists is typically part of a state's veterinary practice law (www.amtamassage.org). However, licensure requirements vary by state. Some states, for example, only allow canine massage to be administered by veterinarians and veterinary technicians. Other states may allow canine massage therapists to practice with written consent of the pet owner.

Voluntary certification is available through the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure & Massage (www.nbcaam.org). Candidates for massage certification must successfully complete an online 150-question exam. In order to qualify, candidates must have completed an animal massage training program - totaling 200 hours or more - that includes coursework in animal anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, ethical practices, business and safety. Candidates must also have completed at least 50 hours of hands-on work under instructor supervision.

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  • School locations:
    • Montana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at The University of Montana include:
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Agriculture
      • Animal Services
        • Equine Studies
  • School locations:
    • Minnesota (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Minnesota include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Agriculture
      • Agricultural Business
      • Animal Science
      • Animal Services
        • Equine Studies
      • Horticulture
      • Plant Science
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Massachusetts Amherst include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, Master
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Agriculture
      • Agricultural Business
      • Agriculture Production
      • Animal Science
      • Animal Services
        • Equine Studies
      • Food Sciences and Technologies
      • Horticulture
      • Plant Science
  • School locations:
    • North Dakota (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at North Dakota State University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Agriculture
      • Agricultural Business
      • Agriculture Production
      • Animal Science
      • Animal Services
        • Equine Studies
      • Food Sciences and Technologies
      • Horticulture
      • Plant Science
      • Soil Science
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Johnson & Wales University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Agriculture
      • Agricultural Business
      • Animal Services
        • Equine Studies
  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Agriculture
      • Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
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      • Environmental Engineering
      • Industrial Engineering
      • Materials Engineering
      • Math
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  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Agriculture
      • Math
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
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Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics