image of small dog on massage table getting acupressure on ears by woman in pink shirt

Acupressure Benefits for Senior Dogs

Senior dogs benefit greatly from acupressure. Acupressure is a modality of Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been used for over 3,000 years on both animals and humans.

When a certain point, called an “acupoint” on a “meridian”, or pathway, is activated through light pressure, chi and blood travel to corresponding organs. This, in turn, helps the organs function more optimally. So acupressure benefits senior dogs by helping their organs receive the nourishment they need, to work as they should.

Senior dogs often experience musculoskeletal issues, incontinence, sensory decline and a general slowing down.

Research has shown that Acupoints work by stimulating areas in the brain that ask the body to perform or balance certain functions.

A few more benefits of acupressure for senior dogs

  • Acupressure relieves pain by releasing endorphins.
  • Reduces inflammation by releasing cortisol.
  • Builds the immune system.
  • Balances energy and reduces stress.
  • Increases blood supply and circulation.

That last point, increasing blood supply and circulation has many benefits that are essential for your senior dog’s good health. Let’s go over some of them.

Why is good blood circulation so vital?

  • Good circulation brings oxygen-rich blood to all of the organs. 
  • Circulation of white blood cells from the immune system will help your dog fight off disease and infection.
  • It helps your dog’s wounds heal faster.
  • Helps your dog’s brain function at its best, improving memory and fighting off doggie dementia.
  • Proper organ function will allow your dog to eliminate toxins better.
  • Increased energy.
  • Healthy skin and coat.

Components of good circulation

The main element of good circulation is your dog’s heart. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the heart is known as the Great Monarch. When your dog’s heart pumps at full force, the heart muscles relax, the heart rate is nice and slow and blood pressure flows evenly.

A healthy species-appropriate diet and getting enough exercise, are both essential for heart health. Daily walks, even short ones, are very important. Senior dogs don’t need as much exercise as they once did, but they still need to get out for more than just potty breaks.

For senior dogs that or dogs with decreased mobility, acupressure and massage make a really big difference in circulation.

Have you ever lifted your dog’s paw or limb and it felt cool to the touch? Cold limbs are an indicator of decreased chi and blood circulation. Blood stagnation or poor circulation is often seen in senior dogs when they are not mobile as they used to be.

Acupressure benefits senior dogs by easing pain, improving organ function and increasing blood circulation.

Acupressure points to help your senior dog

BL 23    

Bladder 23 is the association point for the Kidneys. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Kidneys are of utmost importance because they store Life Fore. This acupoint tonifies Kidney Essence. Bladder 23 is very helpful with incontinence. It is located 1.5 cun* lateral to the spine on the caudal border of the 2nd lumbar vertebra.

ST 36    

Stomach 36, known as Three Legs Mile, is the master point for the abdomen and gastrointestinal tract. It is also known as the Sea of Nourishment point. It strengthens the spleen and harmonizes the intestines. Located lateral to the anterior crest of the tibia in the cranial tibial muscle. 

Legend has it that Chinese warriors would wear leather sashes with stones hanging from either side of their waist while hiked across the countryside. When they became so exhausted, they couldn’t go any further, they would kneel down to rest. The stones would hit on the point of Stomach 36 and they would arise with renewed energy that allowed them to hike “three more miles”.

BL 21    

Bladder 21 is the Association point for Stomach. It helps ease diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, mid-back, stifle and hind limb pain. Located 1.5 cun lateral to the spine on the caudal border of the 13th thoracic vertebra. 

KI 3       

Kidney 3 is a Source point. It tonifies the kidneys and stabilized kidney chi. This acupoint helps with arthritis pain, lower back pain and any kidney dysfunction.  Located in a depression between the medial malleolus of the tibia and the calcaneal tendon.

BL 40    

Bladder 40 is the Master point for the back and hips. It eases the pain that is coming from those areas. It is located in the center of the popliteal crease (behind the stifle, or knee).

SP 6      

Spleen 6 is the Master point for the urogenital system. It regulates, strengthens and tonifies the spleen, reduces stomach stagnation and promotes urination. It is located 3 cun above the medial malleolus on the caudal border of the tibia.

BL 60    

Bladder 60 is commonly known as the Aspirin point. It helps with lower back, sacral and stifle pain. It is located opposite KI3 on the lateral side of the hind limb in the fleshy tissue between the medial malleolus of the tibia and the calcaneal tendon.

TH 21   

Triple Heater 21 is known as the Ear Gate. This point can be used for tinnitus, deafness and earache and is helpful for TMJ pain. It is located rostral to the supratragic notch dorsal to the condyloid process of the mandible, which is felt when the jaw is open.

SI 19     

Small Intestine 19, known as Palace of Hearing. Helps with hearing dysfunction, seizure and anxiety. It is located in a depression rostral to the tragus of the ear. 

CV 8      

Conception Vessel 8 helps with urinary disorders, chronic diarrhea, shock and chronic fatigue. It tonifies the Spleen and Kidneys and restores collapsed Yang.  It is located in the center of the umbilicus.

LIV 3     

Liver 3 is a Source point. It regulates and tonifies the Liver, helps with endocrine and metabolic disorders and helps remove toxins. It is located on the medial aspect of the 2nd metatarsal bone, proximal to the metatarsophalangeal joint, midway between the dorsal and medial aspect of the bone.

*How to measure cun on a dog

Cun, pronounced “tsun”, means “little measurement in Chinese Medicine. It is relative to the body that is being measured. There are several ways to measure cun, but to keep it simple, measure the distance between the elbow crease to the styloid process of the ulna (just above the carpus, or wrist).  This is 12 cun. Divide that in half to come up with 6 cun and again for 3 cun, and so on.  Use your hand or your fingers to make for an easy measuring tool on your dog. This eliminates the need to carry a measuring tape. 

I hope this post was helpful in teaching you acupressure benefits for senior dogs. I will also post a video soon to demonstrate where these points are to help you use acupressure at home.

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