Consider Acupressure for Your Animal Companion

By Carole Milligan, A.C.A.N. graduate and Certified Carnivore Nutrition Health Coach

In my life, I have had assorted injuries in the workplace and in car accidents. I was fortunate to have been the beneficiary of therapeutic massage for those injuries. I often wondered about how I could help my own animals by providing a focused massage or touch therapy treatment. After getting my certification in Carnivore Nutrition from ACAN, I was pleased to find that Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute, an educational partner of ACAN, was going to conduct an Introduction to Small Animal Acupressure & Traditional Chinese Medicine class in a city not too far from my home. I decided to take the class to fulfill the ACAN elective requirements.

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

Acupressure is based on Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). 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.

Ancient Chinese realized that there was something that made the difference between living and non-living things. They named that living quality Chi (also see as Qi, Ki, and pronounced as chee). Chi is the life promoting energy that constantly flows along pathways throughout the body, nourishing the organs, tissues and bones.

In our class, we learned about the many types of chi, about the patterns of disharmony, the theory of Yin and Yang, and other theories that pertain to the practice of acupressure. We learned about the Bladder Meridian, and the many association points found along it, as well as the other Meridians in the body. We learned the basics of using acupressure with hands-on application to the cats and dogs that came to the class with their owners. Personally, I found the class instructors to be very helpful and informative, and the overall class to be well worth the time and effort.

For my own animals, I use acupressure often. My senior girl Bella was spayed early in her life, causing a hormonal imbalance that results in bladder leakage. I was unhappy with the conventional allopathic medication, because long-term use can cause organ damage. There is an acupressure technique for urinary incontinence, which effectively increases the chi and blood circulation, and helps to reduce the bladder leakage. Bella also shows lower back soreness, and shows slight difficulty lying or sitting down. I use acupressure techniques to help balance energy flow in her body, which allows her to be more flexible and move more freely.

My young male dog Woody seems to have no physical or emotional issues, but he is the first one to line up in front of me to receive acupressure. He will turn around when he feels he has had enough balancing on one side of his back so I can use acupressure on the other side of his back. I have also used acupressure successfully on my daughter’s dog to help relieve digestion issues, and on my neighbor’s dogs to help relieve pain and anxiety problems that they have. In consultations with clients, I often suggest that they search out an acupressure practitioner to help restore energy balance in their pets.

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 and the principles of natural rearing principles to promote health, prevent illness, and balance energy in our pets.