Massage therapy for dogs eliminates waste, moves gas, relaxes muscles and stimulates the digestive system. Bonus: any pet parent can learn to massage her dog at home!
As a pet parent, you’ve probably become accustomed to discussing all things poop. While there are many natural options for treating and managing constipation in dogs, massage therapy is a hugely impactful modality for helping your dog poop.
How to massage a dog to poop
Here are 4 tips for at-home massage techniques for helping your dog to poop:
- Less is more. Don’t massage your dog with more than 2 pounds of pressure. This is the most important tip when massaging your constipated dog. Less is always.
- Gentle stroking. Using a flat palm, begin petting your dog from head to tail. This stroke is performed three times in the beginning and end of your session, as both an opening and closing stroke. If your dog is anxious about pooping because it’s difficult or painful, this stroke is grounding and emotionally relaxing. In addition, you’ll be able to assess areas of heat, coolness or tension in your dog.
- Gentle circles. Back tension is a common contributor to constipation! Using the fleshy part of your palm, perform gentle circular strokes on either side of your pup’s spine, beginning at the upper back and working your way down to the tail. It is very important to never massage directly on the spine. For large and medium-sized dogs, remain 2 inches away from the spine. For small dogs, remain 1 inch away from the spine. This is an excellent stroke for identifying and releasing muscle tension!
- Gentle massage of the belly. Using either your fingers or the fleshy part of your palm, massage your dog’s belly. To follow the natural path of your dog’s intestines, stroke up the right side of your dog’s belly, over and down the left side. Think of following an upside-down U shape when performing these strokes. Using your fingers, gently press and release along either side of your dog’s abdomen and into her groin. These strokes should be performed for only a few minutes at a time. Remember that extremely gentle pressure is all that’s needed when massaging your dog’s belly to promote pooping.
Constipation in dogs
How dog poop looks and how often bowel movements are happening are equally great indicators of your pup’s gut health. If your dog is not pooping enough, he may be constipated. Constipation, defined as infrequent or difficult bowel movements, is a really painful condition in dogs.
Signs of constipation in your dog:
- Difficulty pooping
- Infrequent pooping
- Hard, pellet-like bowel movements
- Pain during defecation
If your dog has these symptoms, it will be important to discuss a treatment plan with your veterinarian to avoid emergencies such as fecal blockages. Look for professional canine massage therapists who are also veterinary professionals, like veterinary nurses. They are well-educated on a variety of canine medical conditions. Healthy pooping is essential for your dog, and massage therapy can help!