Over the past years, acupressure has become very popular for treating dogs. The technique is based on the manual massage of acupoints which are located on meridians. By massaging those acupoints we clear blockages and restore the free flow of Qi through the meridans.
In this article, we explore, what acupressure points are, and how you can easily learn to massage them in your dog. Let’s dive right in and make sure you read this post right to the end, as there are a few links with a number of health issues that you can start treating today.
- What is Acupressure?
- What can be Treated with Acupressure in the Dog?
- Preparing For An Acupressure Session With Your Dog
- Meridians & Acupoints
- The canine Lung Meridian
- Anatomy Basics
- How to Treat Pain in Dogs with Acupressure
- Acupressure Workbook
What is Acupressure?
Acupressure has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. It is a form of manual stimulation used to promote healing processes, relax tense muscles, and to alleviate pain. When the dog is treated regularly, acupressure can play an important role in supporting treatments & medications prescribed by your vet & acupuncturist.
What can be Treated with Acupressure in the Dog?
The short answer is every health issue can be treated with acupressure. That said, acupressure is not a replacement for conventional veterinary medicine. In fact, this technique can be used to support medical treatment by promoting healing and stimulating self-healing power. Here is a list of canine health problems we have been treating with acupressure.
- Pain in general
- Disc Disease
- Stomach upsets and other chronic gastrointestinal problems
- Muscle pain and stiffness
- Qi Deficiency (Listlessness)
- Anxiety disorders
Preparing For An Acupressure Session With Your Dog
If you’ve decided to massage acupressure points on your dog at home it’s important to prepare some space for the session. Consider the following recommendations when picking a location:
- Choose a space where your dog is relaxed and comfortable. Large dogs typically prefer to stay on the floor but a small dog might prefer to lie on your lap. Grab a nice fluffy blanket to make them comfy when lying down on the floor.
- Find a location that allows you to move comfortably during the session. Blood flow and the movement of your own Qi is important during this session to help with energy transfer.
- Limit distractions. Turn off the TV, put your phone on silent, and consider closing the door so that other pets (or humans) can’t interrupt the session. This also includes mental distractions – be sure to choose a time when your dog isn’t expecting food or playtime.
Meridians & Acupoints
All the acupoints are located on meridians. The concept of meridians plays an important role in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). They are considered pathways that facilitate the flow of life energy (Qi) throughout the body. Constant and free flow of Qi is essential to keep the body in balance and to maintain all its functions. Stagnant Qi causes malfunction and pain.
Where there is no free flow of Qi there is pain.
List of all meridians and point charts
The canine Lung Meridian
All acupoints are aligned on the meridians. To keep it simple, we number them starting with “01” at the beginning of the meridian. In treatment charts, you’ll find the points labeled like this:
We’re now having a brief look at your dog’s anatomy! This short lecture will help you find the right location of the acupuncture points.
Anatomists have developed standardized anatomical terms of location on the body. These six terms will help you locate the acupoints in relation to other anatomical landmarks.
- cranial – towards the head
- caudal – towards the tail
- dorsal – towards the back
- ventral – towards the abdomen
- distal – away from the torso
- proximal – closer to the torso
The Cun (“Body Inch”) is a measurement relative to the dogs body size. It is used to find acupoints. It’s easy to remember that the widest part of the shoulder blade is 3 cun! This is the most important measurement.
- 3 cun – widest part of shoulder blade.
- 9 cun – shoulder to elbow.
- 16 cun – center of knee joint to hock.
- 19 cun – hip to center of knee joint.
The meridians and acupoints that will be treated are just under the skin so you only need to apply gentle pressure. Extreme pressure could cause additional pain. If your dog ever shows signs of discomfort at any point, stop to apply pressure and move on to a different area.
How to Treat Pressure Points
There are multiple different ways how to work with acupuncture points. Professional practitioners use needles or acupuncture lasers to stimulate them. But you can achieve a beneficial effect by massaging them with your hand as well. This technique is called acupressure.
Massage Techniques for Acupressure
During acupressure, you will use your hands to be aware of any changes happening in the body. These could either be an existing blockage or the free flow of Qi after removing a blockage by acupressure treatment. Learning to sense what the body is communicating takes practice. You can educate your hands by focusing on the various sensations experienced during these sessions and by learning what the sensations indicate.
- The One-Finger Technique: During this technique, you’ll use the finger pad of your thumb. Place it on the acupressure point and apply gentle pressure to it. Depending on the location, you can gently move your thumb and work a little bit deeper into the tissue. This technique is best used on fleshy, well-muscled body parts or on the limbs of larger dogs.
- The Two-Finger Technique: To perform this technique, place your middle finger over the nail on your pointer finger and apply gentle pressure on your dog’s body surface. Use this technique on smaller dogs or on the legs.
Acupuncture Charts are an essential tool for every student of canine acupressure. This e-book will provide you with acupressure charts of all 12 canine meridians, including their most powerful acupressure points. Download your printable PDF chart here.
Practise, Practise, Practise!
The meridians and acupoints that will be treated are just under the skin, so you only need to apply gentle pressure. Extreme pressure could cause additional pain. If your dog ever shows signs of discomfort at any point, stop to apply pressure and move on to a different area.
If you are unable to feel changes in your dog’s body at first, that’s ok! It takes time to learn how to feel the sensation of moving Qi and removing blockages through the hands. Simply apply gentle pressure to the acupoint for approximately 30 seconds. If you don’t manage to stay on the point for the full 30 seconds, don’t worry, that’s ok too, it will still work. While performing your acupressure session, look for signs in your dog. Your furry friend will tell you when you’re getting better at what you’re doing.
Recommended Acupressure Books & Videos
ACU-HORSE: Guide to Equine Acupressure provides you with a step-by-step guide to performing an acupressure session with your horse. Also, this full-color, 230-page equine acupressure book offers tons of charts and photos to help you learn equine acupressure.
ACU-DOG: Guide to Canine Acupressure gives a step-by-step guide to an acupressure session with color photos and charts. It explains how to apply Chinese medicine theories, plus active descriptions and photos of hands-on techniques.
How to Treat Pain in Dogs with Acupressure
Chronic pain is one of the most underdiagnosed problems in veterinary medicine. Dogs are unable to verbalize what they are experiencing, and it is up to us to interpret their behavior. Just like humans, every dog has a unique pain tolerance level. What could cause one dog to shriek in pain might not even make another dog flinch. Symptoms that might indicate your pup is suffering from joint pain caused by osteoarthritis include:
- Generalized Stiffness
- Difficulty Getting Up
- Difficulty Urinating Or Defecating
- Yelping When Pet Lifted
- Crankiness/Mood Changes
- Reluctance To Play Favorite Games or To Go on Walks
- Excessive Licking Of Specific Joint
- Difficulty Finding Comfort
- Frequent Vocalising
Acupressure Points for Pain in Dogs
Acupressure Points for Pain
- HT 07 – in the groove above the carpal joint.
- BL 18 – 1,5 cun away from the midline in the 10th intercostal space. (when you start counting from the last rib it is the 3rd)
- LI 04 – between the 1st (dewclaw) & 2nd finger.
- GV 14 – on the midline in front of the first (easily palpable) 1st thoracic vertebra.
- BL 23 – 1,5 cun away from the midline, between 2nd & 3rd lumbar vertebra.
- LIV 03 – between 2nd & 3rd toe.
- GB 41 – between 4th & 5th toe.
- BL 60 – in the deep groove over the hock joint.
Point Chart Pain
More Point Charts for health Issue in your Dog
On this site, you will find a bunch of acupressure point for a variety of canine health problems.
- Acupressure Points for Anxiety in Dogs
- Acupressure Points to Treat Shoulder Issues in Your Dog
- Powerful Acupressure Points to Soothe Arthritis in Your Dog
- Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs – How Acupuncture & Acupressure Help Dogs With Elbow Pain
- How to Treat Hip Dysplasia in Dogs With Acupressure?
Do you want to dive even deeper into the world of canine acupressure? That’s great! For those who want to learn to treat even more canine health issues, we designed the Canine Acupressure Workbook. This e-book is made for dog enthusiasts, canine therapists, and trainers who want to have a useful resource on canine acupressure right there where they need it.