Powerful Acupressure Points to Soothe Arthritis in Your Dog

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Canine arthritis is one of the most commonly diagnosed health issues in dogs. The treatment consists of medical pain management and modification of home and exercise. But there’s more you can do to help your furry companion! Find out how Acupressure Points can help to alleviate arthritis pain and improve mobility in your dog!

Acupressure is a powerful tool to provide pain relief from canine arthritis. In this article, you will find out what arthritis actually is and how it is affecting your dog. Additionally, you’ll find detailed instructions on how to treat your dog with acupressure to soothe the symptoms of arthritis.

What is Canine Arthritis?

Osteoarthritis is one of the most commonly diagnosed medical conditions in our canine companions. The disease, which is also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD) leads to restricted movement and mobility issues. When a dog is diagnosed with osteoarthritis, it means that the affected joint is in a state of chronic inflammation and pain.

most commonly affected joints
These joints are most commonly affected by arthritis.

Although it is true that any joint in the body could potentially develop osteoarthritis, the most commonly affected joints in dogs are those in the limbs and lower spine.

Unfortunately, osteoarthritis cannot be cured. When managed well, however, the course of the disease can be slowed down.

Canine Acupressure Charts

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How Do I Know If My Dog Has Osteoarthritis? 

Every dog owner knows to pay attention to any signs that might indicate something is wrong with their beloved pets. Dogs are unable to verbalize what they are experiencing, and it’s 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 can vary and may begin with very mild signs.

List of Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs

  • Limping
  • Lethargy
  • 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

Many dogs are able to cope with osteoarthritis during the early stages, by simply shifting their weight and adopting new postures. It’s not until the degeneration progresses that symptoms become obvious. 

How Can I Help My Dog If They’ve Been Diagnosed With Osteoarthritis? 

In addition to seeking proper medical care for your dog, there are steps that you can take yourself to help your dog manage their joint pain better. 

  1. Help Your Dog Lose Weight (If Necessary): If your dog is overweight, a strict diet and restricting the number of treats they get is an essential step.
  2. Invest In Supportive Bedding: There are many wonderful pet beds on the market. Be sure to research what type of bed fits your pet’s needs. 
  3. Consider Installing Ramps: If your pet needs to navigate stairs, you might consider building or purchasing ramps that can be used to make their entries and exits a bit more comfortable. 
  4. Raise The Food And Water Bowls: If your dog is experiencing stiffness and pain in their neck or lower back, raising their food and water bowls so they don’t need to bend down is very beneficial. 
  5. Use Low-Level Light Therapy: Treatment devices such as LumaSoothe promote better blood flow, reduce inflammation, and relieve painful symptoms of Arthritis, Hip Dysplasia, and Back Pain

What is Acupressure?

Pressure points have 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 alleviate pain. When the dog is treated regularly acupressure can play an important role in supporting treatments & medications prescribed by your vet & acupuncturist.

How to Treat Arthritis with Acupressure

Symptoms of arthritis can be treated most effectively when the underlying pattern of disharmony has been identified. It takes a bit of practice to make a correct TCVM (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine) diagnosis that includes pattern differentiation. When you’re not sure what pattern affects your dog, use our Facebook group, or contact a veterinary acupuncturist near you for help.

Massage Techniques:

  • 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.

Practice makes perfect

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. I

f 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.

How do I Know it’s Working?

Your dog’s body will give you clear signs that your massage is having a positive effect on their well-being. Releasing blockages and promoting the free flow of Qi will make your dog feel much better and show you release signs such as:

  • Calming down
  • Relaxing
  • Yawning
  • Groaning
  • Becoming dozy and even falling asleep
  • Stretching

After a few days of doing acupressure, you will notice that you’re not only helping your dog’s health and well-being with your daily acupressure session, but also you’ll see the bond between the two of you growing much stronger.

TCVM Patterns Causing Osteoarthritis

  • Cold: worse in cold weather; stiffness and pain; cold legs and ears; severe stabbing pain in joints; alleviated by warmth.
  • Damp: worse in wet weather; heavy and swollen extremities; less painful.
  • Kidney Qi & Yang Deficiency: difficulty getting up; weakness in hind legs; cold extremities; warmth-seeking.
  • Kidney Qi & Yin Deficiency: difficulties getting up; cold-seeking behavior; warm legs; increased thirst; red and dry tongue.

Acupressure Points – Cold Pattern

  • LI 04 – between the 1st (dewclaw) & 2nd finger.
  • LIV 3 – between the 2nd & 3rd toe.
  • GV 14 – on the midline in front of the first (easily palpable) 1st thoracic vertebra.
  • Bai Hui – on the midline over the lumbosacral space.
pressure points dog for osteoarhtitis
Acupressure points for arthritis in the dog
acupuncture points dog
LI 04
Acupressure points for Cold Pattern

Acupressure Points – Damp Pattern

  • SP 06 – over the hock joint, on the caudal aspect of the tibia (bone).
  • ST 36 – just under to the knee joint, on the cranial border of the leg.
  • LIV 3 – between the 2nd & 3rd toe.
  • BL 20 – 2cm away from the midline, just before the last rib.
Damp Pattern
Damp Pattern

Acupressure Points Kidney Qi Deficiency

  • BL 23 – 2 cm away from the midline, between the 2nd & 3rd lumbar vertebra.
  • ST 36 – just under the knee joint, on the cranial border of the leg.
  • KI 07 – just above the hock joint.
  • GV 04 – on the dorsal midline caudal to the 2nd lumbar vertebra (palpable).
Kidney Qi Deficiency

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.

Further Resources

Even though acupressure is a powerful tool to treat pain and improve joint function, there’s a lot more you can do to help your dog’s arthritis.

Acupressure Workbook

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.

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