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how to massage gas out of dog

How to massage gas out of dog?

How does massage work to alleviate gas?

The act of touch stimulates movement in the intestine. This is because it activities our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). This system is responsible for the rest and digest part of our bodies.  The PNS does the following:

Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous System Functions

What Technique Used To Massage Gas Out Of Dog

General touch or massage stimulates the stomach, intestines’ and bladder. Therefore, you do not need to rub your dogs stomach to “rub” the gas out manually.

Massaging Gas Out Of A Dog Shouldn't Include 'The Belly Method'

You may find videos explaining how to rub gas out of your dog. They advise to place your hands on the dog’s stomach and gentle apply pressure. Not only could this be harmful it is not effect nor necessary. 

3 Reasons To Avoid The 'Belly Method'

1. It Stimulating the Sympathetic Nervous System Not The Parasympathetic Nervous System

If your dog is not accustomed to being massaged, you use too much pressure, or hit a blood vessel your dog may become stressed. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is the system responsible for fight or flight. Therefore it is activated when you are stressed. 

The SNS system is the exact opposite of the PNS system. This means that when the SNS is activated it works against your objectives to relax the stomach and intestines. It constricts organs responsible for digestion or flatulence .

2. Hitting Blood Vessels On Accident

The groin area is full of vessels. Even certified canine massage therapist avoid the groin area because you could accidently restrict blood and cause permeant damage. Therefore you must avoid this area.

3. General Massage Is Just As Effective

Remember massage simulates the PNS which means that massaging your dogs back, neck or tail has a holistic effect on the body. This means that your dog begins to relax, digest, and pass gas. 

General massage naturally activates the PNS, so why risk rubbing your stomach when there is no added benefit and only risk. 

What Is General Canine Massage Therapy?

Canine massage therapy is a type of massage that involves working with the soft tissue of a dog’s body.  Soft tissue includes muscles, ligaments and tendons.

Benefits To Massage?

Massage therapy supports the bodies natural healing process. Massage is a great solution for your dog if he or she is in pain, wounded, has had surgery, or just has gas. I recommend hiring a profession but you can learn some basic techniques below. 

4 major benefits to massage

15 Reasons For Massage Therapy?

There are a variety of reasons why a dog would need a massage. Some of the most common reasons include:

Massage can be used to release gas out of a dog.  General massage is scientifically known to increase activity in the stomach and/or intestines

As dogs grow older, their muscles naturally deteriorate, causing them to become sore.

Dogs can injure themselves in a number of ways.  This includes injuries to muscles, joints, and tendons. The number of injured dogs has skyrocketed in the last 10 years. Humans have taken a bigger role in playing, socializing, and enriching their dogs lives through activity.  The majority of injured dogs are injured at parks, agility or playing frisbee in the back yard. 

Massage can help relieve anxiety by activating a dogs “rest and digest” response.

Massage helps support our bodies natural healing process. Lymphatic massage has even been shown to decrease scarring and healing time in post surgical dogs. Surgery can include spay or neuter, amputations, and/or tumor removal.

Massage can help relieve mental stress such those who have moved homes, or those who compete regularly in canine sports.

Arthritis or panosteitis are just a couple examples that may cause discomfort in dogs.

There are some types of cancer that can cause muscle soreness. This includes cancer of the lymph nodes, liver, or spleen.

Dogs that consume a healthy, balanced diet are less likely to experience muscle soreness after physical activity. In contrast, dogs that are fed an unhealthy diet are more likely to experience muscle pain.

Experts estimate that for every 1 pound they weigh, their knees feel the force of 3 pounds of pressure when you take a step.  Therefore overweight dogs tend to experience soreness at younger ages compared to leaner dogs.

Dogs that are tripods, have luxating patella’s, or hip dysplasia are more likely to need frequent massage.

Dogs with short snouts like Pugs, Boston terriers and Bull Dogs can benefit from massage. . The can benefit from their diaphragm muscle being released. This allows them to take bigger and deeper breaths. 

Athletes get massage to help them recover from a strenuous workouts or competitions. Massage can help increase blood flow and alleviate tense muscles, allowing for faster healing and reduction in muscular soreness.

This occurs when one exercises 1 time a week without conditioning their body through weight lifting or canine fitness. During the weekend your muscles are subject to far more stress than they would during a brisk walk in the park. As a result these muscles are prone to injury during this abnormal activity. This is very common with dogs who go to the park on weekends or a weekly agility class.

Dogs can become sore after vigorous exercise. This occurs even if the dog has regular exercise. An example of this would be 7 days in a row with no rest days in between.

8 Reasons Why A Dog Should Not Receive A Massage?

Why your dog should not get a massage

Why Hire A Canine Massage Therapist Over DIY?

Canine massage therapist are educated in canine anatomy and physiology. Be careful to only hire massage therapist that are certified by the National Board of Certification For Animal Acupressure and Massage. There are online programs that only consist of 1 online seminar. The NBCAAM requires over 200 hours of hands on training. Dog massage therapists are not required to be certified by law to practice. However, the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM) is a canine massage therapy certification that demonstrates the practitioner is qualified to administer canine therapeutic massage to your pet.

Can therapist diagnose an injury or illness?

No, a canine massage therapist can manipulate soft tissue only. This means they are not equipped to identify the cause of an injury. This includes limping, soreness, or abnormal gate. However, they are trained to recognize abnormalities.  In cases of abnormalities, they will recommend a vet visit for a diagnosis. 

Can a human massage therapist give a massage to my dog?

No, a human massage therapist is not specifically trained in pet massage. Did you know that dogs do not have clavicles? This means that their heads are held up by soft tissue? This is why it is important to hire an animal massage therapist who specializes in canines.

How To Prepare For Your First Session?

Ideally you want to pick a place with little to zero stimulation to encourage the dog to go into rest mode. Therefore, 

  1. Pick a small room to work in
  2. Turn off lights, TV, or music
  3. Take your to go to the bathroom beforehand
  4. Provide a blanket
  5. Provide water
  6. Schedule your session 1 hour after you get home to avoid overexcitement
  7. Take your dog for a walk to burn off excess energy

What To Expect In The First Session?

Every dog relates to the act of touch differently. Some dogs are anxious, playful, restless, or relaxed. Typically, the first session is spent with the therapist performing “Trust Building” activates. Trust building is getting your dog use to being touched by the therapist. With extremely anxious dogs, it is considered a win if the dog lets the therapist do a ‘drive-by pet’ in the first session. A drive by pet is when the therapist lightly touches your dog as they are walking by. Every dog’s trust threshold differs due to their past experiences and personality. Your dog might not relax on the floor until the 3rd or 4th session. This is completely normal. However, some dogs open up right away and might even snore in the first session.

It is very important that massage does not trigger the sympathetic nervous system. This is to avoid the stress responsive which would be counterproductive for those who are massaging their dogs to alleviate gas, soreness, or anxiety.

What To Expect During Your Session?

Throughout your sessions, your canine massage therapist should be able to communicate if anything is abnormal. They should also be able to teach you basic massage techniques. Massage therapy for animals is a great way to bond with your dog. Furthermore, your therapist should inform you on what areas to work on and any stretching that must be done at home.

What To Expect After Your Session?

Massage therapy is more intense than petting. It releases stress and toxins. Your dog will most likely have to use the bathroom after his/her massage. Make sure to have water available too.

Some dogs may feel pain from certain techniques such as trigger point (deep tissue). As a result, he/she may alter his gate to compensate for soreness. Some dogs do fall asleep during the therapeutic massage which results in wobbly legs and less coordination when walking. These are all very normal responses during the first 24 hours following a session. If symptoms continue, there may be an underlying condition and it’s best to schedule a visit with your vet.

Can I Massage My Dog My Self?

Yes. Canine massage therapy is beneficial for owners, as it allows the owner to take a role in caring for their dog’s health and happiness. Canine massage therapy has been shown to improve a dog’s quality of life and reduce stress levels.

6 Safe General Techniques For Massaging Your Dog?

  1. Palpation is the act of feeling for abnormities in your dogs muscles. You need to ask yourself, “‘Are there areas that are tighter than others?’ ‘Is my dog more sensitive in their rear than their front?’ ‘Is there skin more adhered in one location compared to another?’ and ‘Does any specific area feel abnormally warm?’
  2. Passive touch is also known as laying of hands. This is the process of gentle putting your hand on a dog with very little pressure. There is no movement. This is ideal for dogs who are sensitive in certain areas. Your objective is to acclimate your dog to touch. This is similar to when we play with puppies paws to prepare them for grooming. You should always start here regardless of you confidence with your dogs ability to be touched.
  3. Effleurage is considered a general technique as it incorporates long sweeping strokes. Movement is fluid and continuous and may be applied superficially or deeply. Some might even say effleurage is ‘glorified petting’. However, just as having your back light swept feels good this is a “feel good technique”.
  4. Compression is the act of pushing lightly into the muscle and releasing. No gliding over the skin as it uses a rhythmic pumping movement. This method is applied with the palmar aspect of your hand. It is usually applied to the belly of the muscle. The belly of the muscle is the widest part of the muscle. However, compression can be applied any where on a muscle. 
  5. V-Spread Friction is executed by placing the lateral border of the thumbs together, then spreading them outward. Move only 1 to 1.5 inches apart. Stay in the same spot for 3-5 strokes
  6. Circular Friction uses the finger pads, thumbs, or palm. Rub your finger pad in a circular motion. Light to heavier pressure is applied.

What are examples of advanced massage work?

  1. Trigger Point Therapy
  2. Petrissage
  3. Orthopedic Friction
  4. Canine Palliative, Hospice Care & Oncology Massage

Advanced techniques by an untrained professional can cause harm. This is usually contributed to putting too much pressure on a dog’s muscles. Many people do not understand what limitations feel or look like in a dog. As a result, it is highly recommended to use a certified canine massage therapist for techniques such as deep tissue and lymphatic massage. Professionals have been trained in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, pathology, and massage techniques. This is why the vet community strongly urges canine massage therapists to obtain certification through a program supported by ‘The National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure & Massage’ aka (NBCAAM). 

What Areas Should I Avoid?

The armpits and groan area. There a lot of blood vessels in these regions and they should be touched with caution.

Flexibility In Dogs

How Does Canine Massage Increase Flexibility?

Deep tissue massage relieves muscular tightness and tension. This type of technique focuses on knotted or bundled soft tissue. By releasing this tension it allows for greater flexibility.

Why Would You Want To Increase Flexibility In Your Dog?

  1. Sports Dog
  2. Helps Prevent Injury
  3. Increases Physical Capabilities

What Can You Do To Increase Flexibility In Your Dog At Home?

Range Of Motion Testing (ROM)

Range of motion is the distance and direction a joint can move. Test your dogs ROM by seeing (not touching) how far it can extend and flex its limbs. Typically this is done by watching your dogs natural gate.

Passive Range Of Motion V.S Range Of Motion

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to test a dogs range of motion so instead we test passive range of motion. The difference between ‘range of motion’ and ‘passive range of motion’ is who is moving the muscle. If the muscles cells are contracting by themselves, then its range of motion. If the therapist uses their hands to see how far a muscle can extend or flex, then they are testing passive range of motion.

How To Test Passive Range Of Motion

This is done by gently and slowly moving the joint through its natural range of motion. It is important to gauge what is uncomfortable for your dog. They should be enjoying the stretch. Any whining, pulling back of their limb, lip licking or head turning are signs of stress. If you are seeing these signs you have gone too far.

Stretching Past PROM


Once you have a base line for how far the muscle can move you can now begin to stretch the muscle to gradually increase its length. Hold the joint in that position for about 30 seconds before gentle shaking it out. Muscle stretching helps increase blood flow and lymphatic drainage to the area. As a result it helps reduce inflammation and pain.

DIY Stretching?

The Cookie Stretch

The Cookie Stretch is a common technique used to stretch the back and neck muscles of dogs. The technique typically uses a cookie but I prefer to use a small Kong. The goal of the exercise is to use the Kong to lure your dog to bring his nose to different parts of the body. Start by having your dog stand straight and then lure his head so that he folds(maybe even in half). Then gradually bring the Kong down to his elbow, knee and tail. This allows the dog to get a nice stretch in various parts of the neck and spine. Ideally, the stretch should last 10-30 seconds at each location and repeat 3 times. Keep in mind your dogs flexibility when doing this stretch. Some dogs can only bend towards their shoulder. They will move their body to compensate if they are inflexible. 

Superman Stretch

The superman stretch is used to stretch the arms and legs. Take the front limb and pull it forward slowly. Your dog can do this sitting, standing or laying down. Make sure to watch your dog for signs of discomfort. Never go past the point of discomfort. The stretch should last 10-30 seconds at each location and repeat 3 times. Repeat this stretch with the back limb but instead of moving it forward, pull it backwards. 

Turtle Stretch

The turtle stretch is used to stretch the neck. Have the dog in a stand position. Lure their head to the left  and hold. Then do it on the right and hold. Then tilt it upwards and hold. Make sure the dog does not cheat by twisting its head. If they cheat, then reduce difficulty. Do this by coming closer to them until they stop turning their head. 

Lastly, have the dog stand. Place the Kong underneath their belly but between their feet. They should bow and pull their head between their legs.

What to know before laying hands on your dog?

You should familiarize your self with:

  1. What Is Soft Tissue?
  2. How Do Muscles Work?
  3. What Are The General Muscle Groups (e.g. neck flexors, hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps)

What is Soft Tissue?

Soft tissue includes all the parts of the body that are not bones, teeth, or claws. Soft tissue can be divided into two types: Connective Tissues & Muscular Tissues.

Types Of Soft Tissue

Understanding the distinction between connective and skeletal muscle tissue is critical for giving your dog a safe and beneficial massage.

  1. Skeletal Muscle Tissue : Skeletal muscles are the muscles used to move our body. Muscles are connected to bones via tendons which pulls on the bone causing the bone to move.
  2. Connective tissues are structures in the body which provides support and strength to muscles. The two most important structures are tendons and ligaments.
    1. Tendons: Tendon is a cord of tough, flexible tissue that connects muscles to bones.
    2. Ligaments: Ligaments are bands of tough, fibrous connective tissue that connect bones to one another and help to keep the joints stable.
Photo of the difference between connective tissue, ligaments, and muscles

Can Soft Tissue Heal Back To Pre-Injury Status?

Muscles, tendons and ligament cannot regenerate themselves. Therefore only bones can really heal 100 percent while soft tissues will only recover 85%. Therefore massage only supports healing and will never be a cure.

Other Benefits For Massage

You know why massage helps alleviate gas, how to do it, and why hiring a professional is important but do you know the other benefits of massage? Below you can learn about the two most common reasons dogs get massage: Soreness & Anxiety.

How Does Massage Alleviate Soreness?

Massage helps improve blood circulation, which can help to remove toxins and waste products from the muscles. It also helps to stimulate the flow of lymphatic fluid, which helps in removing inflammation.

How To Prevent & Reduce Soreness In Your Dog

a chart how to prevent soreness in dogs
A chart in how to reduce soreness in dogs

Anxiety In Dogs & Massage

Why Do Dogs Get Anxious

Anxiety can either be environmentally based or passed down genetically. Some breeds are more anxious than others. For example, a study found that Shelties are typically more anxious than other breeds. Environmental reasons can include:

  1. Not getting enough exercise or mental stimulation
  2. Changes in routine or new stimuli that makes them uncomfortable (sounds of thunder)
  3. Trauma or an incident which caused the dog to have fear based anxiety
  4. Lack of socialization

Nine Ways Anxiety Can Present It Self

  1. Barking
  2. Lunging
  3. Chewing on furniture, carpets or even their own leg or tail
  4. Hiding under beds, tables and sinks
  5. Pacing
  6. Whining
  7. Seeking more attention (learned behaviors)
  8. Salivating
  9. Urinating or defecating in inappropriate places

What Can We Do To Help the Anxiety?

Massaging can calm your dog down by releasing endorphins that lower blood pressure. Dogs with anxiety often benefit greatly from massage therapy because of the way it releases oxytocin which stimulates trust and feeling safe while decreasing cortisol levels on a cellular level which reduces stress.

Scientific Reason Why Massage Helps Anxiety?

A more scientific explanation of why massage therapy helps dogs with anxiety is through our understanding of the central nervous system (CNS). The central nervous system consist of the parasympathetic (PNS) and sympathetic nervous system (SNS).

The Central Nervous System And How It Works?

The SNS prepares the body for combat or is a flight response (fight or flight). It stimulates the body via adrenaline and cortisol, this causes more of an inflammatory response which can lead to increased levels of pain in the body. The PNS is responsible for rest and digest state. It is stimulated by oxytocin which helps to relax, decrease inflammation but also stimulates the immune system.

When an animal is anxious they spend too much time in ‘fight or flight’ mode and not enough time in  ‘rest and digest’ mode. Massage can activate the PNS thus allowing the dog to relax. An animal who is constantly in fight or flight mode is in constant pain and has a weakened immune system. Ideally we want them to be in PNS when ever possible.

How Can You Help Your Anxious Dog?

1. Remove The Dog From The Situation

If you notice your dog becoming visibly upset do not punish them for being scared! Instead, identify what it causing the stress. Once you have identified the stressor, remove your dog from the stressful situation and give them time to recover.

2. Remove Harmful Objects From The Area

If you can not remove the dog from a situation it is best to dog-proof the house before leaving. Removing harmful objects from the area will prevent injury especially when your dog is in an anxious state. This is especially true for dogs that chew to relieve anxiety.

3. Relieve Anxiety By Creating A Routine

Routine is very important to dogs. This could be walking at the same time of day or returning to the house at a specific time. Please keep in mind that breaking a routine can be very hard on dogs with anxiety. So, if your lifestyle prevents you from sticking to a routine it would be best to avoid creating one in the first place.

4. Holistic Medicine For Anxiety

Some holistic treatment can include thunder jackets, and aroma therapy.  CBD treatments have shown little to zero effect on helping a dog overcome anxiety. Aromatherapy, on the other hand, has been found to be effective. In one study, lavender oil was found to be the most effective in reducing a dog’s anxiety levels.

5. Prescription Medication

There are a variety of medications that can be used to help dogs with anxiety. The most common type of medication used for treating anxiety in dogs is called a benzodiazepine. A benzodiazepine is a type of tranquilizer that helps calm them down. It works by slowing down the activity of the nerves in the brain. This helps to reduce the feeling of anxiety and stress.

Other types of medicine include antidepressant medications and anti-anxiety medications. Antidepressant medications work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain.  Anti-anxiety medications work by blocking certain receptors in the brain that are responsible for causing anxiety.

If your dog is experiencing anxiety, it is important to take them to the veterinarian so that they can be properly diagnosed and treated. Anxiety can be a serious problem for dogs and can cause them to become stressed and anxious all of the time. Untreated anxiety can also lead to a suppression of the immune system and lead to a compromised health status.

6. Consult Your Veterinarian

Regardless of the severity always make sure to consult your veterinarian before starting any new regiment. This includes anything written above. Every dog is different and will respond differently to various treatments. What works for one may not work for another, so it’s important to be patient and find what works best for your furry friend

In summary, massage is a very effective tool in helping dogs with anxiety due to its ability to activate the part of the nervous system that calms the body. If you or someone you know has a dog who is constantly anxious please let them know 1)they are not alone and 2)massage is a proven technique used to help dogs get out of the anxious state. Relief from anxiety shows huge benefits even if its just for a moment. 

Happy Massaging!

Overall massage effects your entire body.  From activating their digestive track to alleviating soreness. Remember the goal of canine massage is to activate the “rest and digest system”. Take it slow, gradually introduce your dog into the practice and be happy knowing that any form of touch will make a huge impact on your dogs health. And of course, stop rubbing your dogs belly to release gas. A simple massage will do the trick. 

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