Animal Massage Therapy Schools and Colleges: How to Choose

Prospective animal massage therapists learn to heal injured animals, as well as promote healthy immune systems in animals. 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

What to Look For Low student-to-teacher ratios, experienced instructors, hands-on opportunities
Accreditation National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM)
Program Options Small animal, canine, and equine therapy programs

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.

Consider the following when choosing an animal massage therapy program:

  • Consider schools that offer low student-to-teacher ratios in order to receive personalized attention while learning massage techniques and procedures.
  • Individuals should look for schools accredited by the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM).

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. These programs may prepare students for certification required by some employers.

Small Animal Massage Therapy Programs

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 Programs

A canine massage therapy 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 Programs

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

Schools with Animal Massage Therapy Programs

The following is a list of schools with animal massage therapy programs:

  • Bradford School
  • Johnson College
  • Institute of Technical Arts
  • Midwest Institute
  • Milwaukee Career College
  • Palo Alto College
  • Pensacola State College
  • Pima Community College
  • Trident Technical College
  • Fort Valley State University

Most of these schools have 2-year programs, and some of them are for-profit. Further research is recommended to ensure the school best suits your intended career goals. Massage therapy for small animals, canines, and horses each have their own set of skills training, and it is recommended to look for schools with smaller class sizes and, most importantly, schools accredited by the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM).

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