Thursday, February 4, 2010

DIY Acupressure for Dogs

Acupressure is a hands-on, fingertip therapy that works by applying pressure to various identified points on your dog's body. It originated over 3,000 years ago as part of a holistic healing system called Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM). Chinese medicine holds that all animals have a "life force" called qi (pronounced "chee") that moves through the body through pathways called meridians. Specific points on these meridians that are located close to the surface of the body, then, can be accessed to re-establish balance in the movement of the qi.

Acupuncture is a deep treatment technique that should be performed by a certified veterinary acupuncturist registered with the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture or a holistic veterinarian. Acupressure, on the other hand, is something that you can provide for your dog daily, free of charge! While it does by no means replace regular veterinary care, it is a wonderful supplement that can be used to relieve pain, reduce muscle spasm, support healing, and strengthen the immune system.

Starting with a light massage or simple 'petting' will start the acupressure session off nicely. Acupressure can be performed with the dog standing, sitting, or lying down, depending on your dog's natural preference and the particular point you will be addressing. So, when you are ready, you can begin to zero in on your dog's acupressure points.

Once you have found the point, place your index finger or thumb on the point and apply steady pressure with a single straight finger. Try and imagine a slow and even continuum of energy entering his body at that point. It might sound hokey, but it will keep you from poking in an awkward or sudden motion that can startle or confuse him. Slowly increase the pressure and release after 5 to 15 seconds, depending on the body language of your dog. A dog who is ready to be released from a point might tense his muscles, make a sudden movement, or even yelp. Make sure you use your own dog's comfort level as a guide, and by no means should a dog acupressure point be held longer than 15 seconds. More is not better in this case. However, do feel free to treat several different points in one sitting, always repeating each acupressure points on both sides of the body to maintain balance.

If you come across a tender spot on an acupressure point (often marked by a twitch when pressure is applied), simply use a gentle massaging motion to relax the muscle. Then, use the aforementioned acupressure technique to release the tender point. Adding a few counter-clockwise rotations to your finger just before releasing may help in these areas as well. Of course, use extra care and gentleness in these areas on all occasions. Think of long-term health and healing. A small massage and gentle release today and tomorrow may be your canine companion's start on his road to recovery. Keep a record of your work, noting tender areas as well as improvements and you will be amazed at the difference this dog therapy can make!

(information and photos courtesy of and


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