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Senior Canine Comfort Care
by Amy Snow & Nancy Zidonis
Aging isn’t any kinder to dogs than it is to humans. Older dogs suffer from the aches and pains of osteoarthritis, worn joints, tendon problems, and a host of physical issues that hurt. These hurts lead to physical limitations, loss of vitality, and possibly a change in attitude.
Sheba at twelve years old still had the look of a regal Irish Setter. Her once rich, red, silky coat had dulled with gray. Still sleek and lean, her white face and telltale shorter gait was evidence that she was a healthy example of a senior-dog citizen. Sheba’s naps were getting longer and when getting up and getting going, she needed some coaxing.
Sheba still had the heart of a 5-year-old wanting to prance and dance on an outing. Her eyes would brighten at the mention of a walk. She wanted to run and play the way she did in her younger days. In reality she was no longer able to make her once graceful flying leap into the back seat of the car; she needed a boost. Her energy diminished after only 20 minutes of walking at a moderate pace.
Our senior canines want to do all the wonderful things they used to do. And we can help them do as much as they are able, so they can enjoy their golden years.
The ancient eastern healing art of acupressure can offer our senior canines relief from the aches and pains of aging. Acupressure has been used to help animals for thousands of years. It has been clinically shown to:
- Strengthen the dog’s immune system
- Lubricate the joints to improve mobility
- Reduce inflammation associated with arthritis
- Enhance blood circulation for better overall functioning
- Release endorphins and natural cortisone to relieve pain and increase the dog’s comfort level.
An acupressure session with his favorite human goes a long way to having a healthy, happy older dog. Offering him acupressure two times a week will make both of you feel good – you’re helping him and he is feeling better.
Acupressure Points to Support Senior Canines
Acupressure has been proven to help relieve the pain and stiffness of arthritis as well as many other issues associated with aging. Here are acupressure points that are specifically selected to improve your dog’s mobility, digestion and absorption of nutrients, and general well-being. See Canine Comfort Care chart.
Stomach 36 (St 36) - the translation of its Chinese name is Leg Three Miles; it is used extensively to aid digestion and promote gastrointestinal health while also enhancing life-force energy. This acupressure point is known to enhance the animal’s activity level and assist in the absorption of nutrients.
Gall Bladder 34 (GB 34) - also known as Yang Mound Spring. This acupressure point has the attribute of influencing the strength and flexibility of tendons, ligaments, and joints. Additionally, it can reduce atrophy of the older dog’s soft tissues.
Kidney 3 (Ki 3) - traditionally called Great Stream, it brings forth the original essence and energy of the animal, which supports the dog’s basic constitution. This acupoint is often used to add essential energy during the winter phase of life.
Bai Hui, Heaven’s Gate - a classical point on the dog that is used for giving the dog a general sense of well-being – most dogs love it!
Since the acupoints on the dog’s body are bilateral, hold the acupoints on both sides of your dog sequentially. There are two different finger techniques you can use: Thumb Technique is usually effective on the head, neck and trunk of the dog’s body and the Two-Finger Technique is best for the limbs.
- Thumb Technique: Place the tip of your thumb directly on the acupoint and hold the point gently, but with intent, for a slow count to at least 30. If your dog shows no reaction, you can hold the acupoint longer. Some dogs don’t demonstrate what they are feeling. After a reasonable amount of time, move on to the next acupoint.
- Two-Finger Technique: Place your middle finger on top of your index finger to form a little tent then place your index finger gently, yet with intentional firmness, directly on the acupoint for a slow count to 30, or longer if your dog shows no reaction. Move on to the next point even if your dog indicates a release of energy.
Please put your other hand on the dog as well, to feel for any reactions. You will know if the dog is moving his energy if he releases. Releases can include: yawning, licking, passing air, stretching, and showing signs of connecting to his energy.
By performing the “Senior Canine Comfort Care” acupressure session every three to four days, you will be contributing to your elder dog’s health and well-being for all his years – which could be many more.
About the authors:
Nancy Zidonis and Amy Snow are the authors of Acu-Dog: A Guide to Canine Acupressure, Equine Acupressure: A Working Manual, and, Acu-Cat: A Guide to Feline Acupressure. They founded Tallgrass offering books, manuals, DVDs, Apps, and meridian charts. Tallgrass also provides hands-on and online training courses worldwide including a 330-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 NCBTMB CE’s.
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