Dog Acupressure

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Acupressure Origins

Warning: Always remember to consult with a certified professional before attempting to practice any form of medicine. 

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” and often misspelled “chi”) 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.

A Place For Chinese Medicine Today


Understanding “Dry” “Damp” “Hot” and “Cold”
Traditional Chinese Medicine used these terms to describe different ailments that can be treated with dog acupuncture and acupressure. A “dry” condition might appear as constant thirst. Excessive “dampness” might explain the discharge that comes with various infections. An ankle sprain that has inflammation can be called “hot”. For more on this, please see The Complete Holistic Dog Book.

Now, before you get bored, remember this: there is very much that Western Medicine can teach us about the body, including all of its information on body systems such as the lymphatic, circulatory and respiratory systems. Each of these describe specific entities in the body that exist and are made up of cells, tissues, and organs. The “life force” of qi and its travel along meridians is not a system in the sense that these are. On the contrary, it is a much earlier explanation of the entirety of the processes that are carried out in the body. For example, acupuncture (the TCM process of inserting tiny needles into specific points along meridians, from which acupressure was derived) has been scientifically proven to release numerous balancing hormones, neurochemicals and other substances into the bloodstream. This has been an expected result of medicinal Chinese methods for centuries, without all the bother about specific microscopic cellular activities.

Acupuncture vs. Acupressure

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.

Now it’s time to get started. Grab your favorite canine friend, roll up your sleeves, and read on!


First of all, you need to find a location that is familiar to both you and your dog. When working with your dog, think about what makes him comfortable. The idea is to create an atmosphere of complete trust so that he won’t react negatively to a sustained pressure. Try communicating your love and affection in the way he best receives it. 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.

Locating Acupressure Points

See our Acupressure (Acu-Points) Chart and Table to determine the list of points which you will be addressing during your session, depending on your dog’s needs. For example, if your dog is suffering from canine arthritis, particularly in his hips and legs, you may want to apply acupressure to points BL40, BL54, GB29, and GB30. Use the chart to find the ailment in the “Ailment” column that best describes your dog, then locate the “Abbreviation” in one of the two Acupressure point Illustrations, using the “Location” description to help you find the actual point on your dog.

The Benefits of Canine Acupressure:

    • Manages chronic pain, improves mobility, and relieves muscle spasms.
    • Increases strength and promotes tissue healing.
    • Increases sense of well-being, provides short-term pain control and relaxation.
    • Alleviates nausea and controls vomiting.
    • Enhances circulation and increases blood flow.
    • Boosts immune response and aids organ functions.

    Acupressure Technique

    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!

    Author: Lucky Dog Health


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