By Educational Partner: Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute
Puppies commonly suffer from motion sickness, but older dogs can have their moments too; it can turn car rides into an unpleasant and miserable ordeal for all concerned, not to mention being a dangerous distraction for the driver. If your pet is a poor passenger, aid could be at hand – literally – with the help of a brief acupressure treatment prior to traveling.
Those of us who have had the experience of a carsick dog might apply any number of descriptive and colorful phrases to the condition, but in Traditional Chinese Medicine, regurgitation is considered ‘rebellious stomach chi.
Stomach chi is the life force energy which supports the stomach’s ability to function properly; it is supposed to flow downwards, not upwards – if it goes in the wrong direction, it is being ‘rebellious’ and is not a lot of fun for either dog or driver! Acupressure – applying pressure to certain specific points on your pet’s body – can enable you to help him balance the flow of energy through his body, so the stomach chi flows in the correct direction.
Acupressure has been used for thousands of years to treat physical and emotional problems in both animals and humans. You can use the simple techniques on your pet to help with issues such as resolving injuries more quickly, supporting the body before, during and after surgery, reducing swelling, minimizing pain, helping with calming, and with immune system conditions.
Animals are particularly attuned to acupressure; and they love to be touched and cared for by their special person. The beauty of acupressure is that it is completely safe, always available, and you can do it yourself; and this interactive connection is deceptively gentle, it’s extremely powerful in effect. If you have a dog who suffers from car sickness, give it a try by just following the directions given here, consulting the acupressure chart for the appropriate acupoints.
Acupressure for Motion Sickness
You can give a motion sickness/nausea acupressure treatment yourself whenever you suspect that traveling with your dog might be a bit of a rocky ride for him. We suggest that you perform it within an hour of actually getting in the car. Start by finding a quiet, calm location where your dog feels settled and relaxed. Breathe evenly and slowly while thinking about how you want him to feel – a major part of any treatment is the intent you bring to each session. When you’re ready to begin, proceed as follows:
This phase prepares your dog for intentional touch. Gently place one hand on his shoulder – this is your ‘anchor’ hand. Place the heel of your other hand at the top of his neck just to the side of his spine, and stroke down his neck. Continue by smoothly stroking over his body along to his hindquarters, staying to the side of his spine. Continue to stroke down his leg following the bladder meridian line (see diagram) to the outside digit. Repeat this procedure three times on each side of your dog. This procedure communicates your intention to offer intentional touch not just petting.
2. Point work
For the point work phase of the treatment, use the motion sickness/nausea chart to locate the appropriate points; for the most part acupoints are located on the indentations of the body, not in the belly (or prominence) of a muscle or on top of a bone. Start by resting one hand comfortably on your dog, using the other one to perform the actual point work. Hold a specific acupressure point for between 30-60 seconds. Begin with the highest point, working from top to bottom, and front to back, and work the acupoints on both sides of the body. Two Point Work Techniques follows.
*Thumb Technique: Gently place the tip of your thumb directly on the acupressure point at an angle of 90 degrees, adding a little pressure, approximately .25 – .5 lbs. depending on the size of the dog. The thumb technique tends to work better on the trunk of the dog’s body.
* Two-Finger Technique: put your middle finger on top of your index finger and then place your index finger at a 45-degree angle, gently but with intentional firmness directly on the acupressure point. Use whichever technique is most comfortable for you and your dog. The two finger technique seems to be particularly good for smaller and on the limbs for larger dogs.
To complete the session, repeat the stroking procedure described in the initial ‘Opening’ phase of the treatment. With the heel of your hand stroke down your dog’s body along the bladder meridian starting at the top of his neck, just off the midline. Repeat three times on each side of his body as before – this reconnects the flow of energy and establishes the new cellular memory.
Nancy Zidonis and Amy Snow are the authors of: ACU-DOG: a Guide to Canine Acupressure, ACU-CAT: A Guide to Feline Acupressure, and ACU-HORSE: A Guide to Equine Acupressure. They founded Tallgrass offering books, manuals, DVDs, Apps, and meridian charts. Tallgrass also provides hands-on and online training courses worldwide including a 300-hour Practitioner Certification Program. Tallgrass is an approved school for the Dept. of Higher Education through the State of Colorado and an approved provider of ACAN, NCBTMB and NCCAOM CE’s. To contact them: phone: 888-841-7211; web: www.animalacupressure.com