Acupressure for Your Pets Health
Acupressure is an ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine (TMC) art that can be thought of as “acupuncture without needles”. Acupressure stimulates or sedates points lying along the energy channels known as meridians, moving the energy, balancing the Qi (or Chi), and relieving or preventing blockages and excesses that can cause discomfort, pain, and disease. The ancient Chinese understood that all living beings, no matter what classification into which they may be placed, are all connected and part of the universe. From a TCM point of view, illness is understood as a breakdown of the immune system. When the body’s natural defenses are impaired, external pathogens (such as Wind, Heat, and Cold), can invade the body. Additionally, external stressors such as anger, anxiety, and grief can injure the immune system as well.
Based on the same theory as acupuncture, acupressure has been used widely in the East for at least 3000 years. In China, it is currently practiced even more widely than acupuncture. Conventional medical studies and thousands of years of clinical experience have shown that acupressure:
- Relieves muscle spasms
- Builds the immune system
- Strengthens muscles, tendons, joints and bones
- Balances energy to optimize the body’s natural ability to heal
- Releases natural cortisone to reduce swelling and inflammation
- Releases endorphins necessary to increase energy or decrease pain
- Enhances mental clarity and calm required for focus in training and performance
- Resolves injuries more readily by increasing the blood supply
Often people expect that one acupressure session will cure all ills. It must be remembered that chronic conditions take time to build up, and they take time to be alleviated. Initially, sessions twice or even three times a week may be necessary, followed by less frequent sessions of once a week or even every two weeks to maintain the energy balance. Every animal is different, so individual animals need the frequency of sessions personalized for them.
Traditional Chinese medicine is a practice of restoring balance to the animal, and is also important as preventive care. As a natural, gentle, and non-invasive method, the practice of acupressure complements naturopathic ideals. In summary, acupressure goes hand in hand with the laws of health and the principles of natural rearing principles to promote health, prevent illness, and balance energy in our pets.
Acupressure should not be done on an area where the animal exhibits extreme sensitivity. If you inadvertently touch an area that is painful, release the pressure immediately. If you pet shies away from being touched in a certain spot, an injury, a localized infection, or a behavioral problem could cause this sensitivity. The sensitive area may relate to a meridian line and sometimes to a specific organ associated with that meridian. If you are able to pinpoint a specific area that is extremely uncomfortable when touched, consult a veterinary acupuncturist to have it checked.
Some health problems can be aggravated by acupressure if you are working around an injured area. Do not apply acupressure directly to wounds, bruises, cuts or surgical incisions, you could damage tissue and increase pain. However, it can be helpful to press points that are near an injury in order to increase circulation in the area. Use only the points that are not painful. If your pet indicates he is in pain when you touch a point, you are too close to the injury.
This is not meant to be the only treatment for your pet but to enhance the treatment plan you have developed with your veterinarian. Below are guideline for acupressure treatments and links to locate acupoints are given at the bottom of the page.
Preparing to Give an Acupressure Treatment for Your Pets Health
Before starting an acupressure treatment, wash and dry your hands thoroughly. If your hands are cold, run them under warm water. Both you and the animal to be treated should be calm and relaxed. Acupressure should not be performed on an animal that has been traumatized, just exercised or has just eaten.
Locating Acupressure Points
Unlike acupuncture, acupressure doesn’t have to be totally “on target” to be effective. If you are near the acupoint, you will be doing lots of good whether you’ve hit the precise point or not. By pressing in the vicinity of the point, you will still increasing energy flow in the associated meridian line. Correctly applied pressure should be placed in the valleys of muscle. You should never press into a major nerve, on bone, the spinal cord, or a body cavity.
Pressing the Points
Be aware that there is no “right” location in acupressure. The exact location of equine, canine, feline and human acupressure points depend on the source. Acupressure drawings offer you a guide, not an exact map. Do your best and trust your intuition.
Acupressure is done by exerting pressure with one finger on precise places on the body. Most often, you will use either the middle finger or the thumb. Sometimes, you will find it easier to use one or the other, depending on the exact spot you are treating.
To determine the amount of pressure to use, experiment on your own body, pressing your thumb or middle finger against various places on your face, chest, arm and on your other hand, for 10 to 15 seconds. The pressure should be firm enough so that you experience it as hard and steady, but it should not be painful or damaging to the skin. Always go into a point slowly, beginning with light pressure and increasing it to tolerance. Some animals are more sensitive and will need less pressure. Others will need more pressure for the treatment to be effective. Let the animal be your guide. The technique involves applying light to firm pressure, or circular massage over an acupoint. When holding the point maintain steady, firm pressure, this will help you to avoid angles that may cause you to slip or slide in to or out of a point over the animal’s fur.
Stimulation of an acupoint is generally around 10 to 15 seconds. Acupoints are the same on both sides of the animal. If you work a point on the right side you should also work the corresponding point on the left side of the body.
The session should not be painful and is well-tolerated by most animals. The entire acupressure treatment should always be comfortable for patients. However, in cases of pregnancy (certain points may cause abortion), open wounds, or infectious diseases, acupressure is contraindicated.
Closing the Session
After an acupressure for Your Pets Health session you should perform The Closing. This has two functions: one, is to strengthen the energy flow between the points on the same meridians stimulated during your point work; and second, it establishes a healthy cellular memory pattern. Cellular memory is the cell’s learned response to a chronic stimulus such as pain. The Closing phase helps the body to maintain the state achieved during point work.
Flat Hand Closing Technique
To perform the Closing, position your hand flat with your palm and fingers in full contact with the animal you’re working on. Using light pressure slide your hand over your pet from front to rear and top to bottom. Start at the neck, then go over the shoulder, across the back and over the hips. Proceed down the back leg, passing over the hock and terminate the Closing at the end of the rear foot/paw/hoof. Do this on both sides of the body.
Following Acupressure for Your Pets Health, Allow your pet to rest for several hours before resuming work or strenuous exercise.