Reduce your animal’s discomfort by gently stimulating these three key acupoints.
Many dogs and cats suffer from arthritis, especially as they get older. Thankfully, there are many effective and non-toxic ways to help ease the pain and discomfort of this common condition. In this article, we’ll focus at what acupressure can do for the arthritic animal.
A bit about arthritis
When a dog or cat has osteoarthritis, his joints hurt because he is experiencing a deterioration of the cartilage that creates a smooth gliding surface, along with a loss of the synovial fluid that lubricates his joints. When there’s less cartilage and synovial fluid, inflammation sets up in the joints. Between this inflammation and the friction caused by opposing bones rubbing against each other with every flexion, the animal is in a lot of discomfort.
Arthritis usually results from repetitive wear and tear. Other causative factors can include joint instability, genetics, trauma, infection, birth defects and disease. Studies have shown that 20% of dogs experience arthritis before the age of seven, while after that age, the incidence shoots up to 65%. German shepherds, golden retrievers, and Labrador retrievers top the list of larger breeds that are prone to arthritis, while dachshunds are fourth on the list, thanks to the conformation of their joints.
Additionally, 90% of cats over the age of 12 exhibit osteoarthritis. Because cats tend to be silent sufferers, however, it may be more difficult to know when they’re in pain due to arthritis. The disease usually presents in a cat’s spine, hip and elbows, and the breeds most commonly afflicted are Maine coon, Abyssinian, Himalayan, Persian and Siamese.
Decreased activity is the first telltale sign of arthritis in both dogs and cats. Other general signs include stiff movement, swelling and/or heat in the joint, lack of flexibility, lameness, and obvious discomfort when being touched. Animals experiencing the pain of arthritis often also exhibit behavioral changes such as irritability, as well as changes in their grooming habits. Dogs and cats can differ in how they show signs of discomfort.
Integrative approach to osteoarthritis
If your dog or cat is showing possible signs of arthritis, have him checked over by an integrative or holistic veterinarian. One or two of the symptoms associated with arthritis can be caused by other health issues, so it’s wise to have your animal’s specific condition professionally assessed. Many herbal remedies and vitamins are known to stave off inflammation and slow join deterioration, and your veterinarian can help you decide what’s best for your own dog or cat.
When joints receive life-promoting energy and a healthy supply of blood, they will not break down as quickly as the cat or dog ages.
You can also help your animal offering her an acupressure session twice a week. Certain acupressure points are known to reduce inflammation and supply the necessary nutrients and energy to the joints to enhance flexibility and movement. By gently applying finger-pressure on the “acupoints” shown on the charts and discussed below, you can effectively lessen your dog or cat’s pain and and improve his quality of life.
Acupressure session for arthritis
Because your animal is in pain, it’s best to lightly use the soft tip of your index finger when giving her acupressure. The acupoints are located just beneath the surface of her skin, so there’s no need to press deeply. There a phrase in Chinese medicine: “Don’t spank the crying baby.” In other words, when there’s a place on your animal’s body that hurts, you have to be careful not to cause more hurt. The acupoints selected for this general acupressure session help to mitigate pain and the progression of joint damage.
1. Small Intestine 4 (SI 4) is known to bring nourishment to the joints of the forelimbs. When joints receive life-promoting energy and a healthy supply of blood, they will not break down as quickly as the cat or dog ages.
2. Gall Bladder 34 (GB 34) benefits the joints throughout the body, especially the joints of the hind limb. This point is located on the outside (lateral side) in the middle of the animal’s hind leg just below the stifle joint (knee). If that joint is painful, work off-body by holding your hand, palm down, over the stifle joint.
Because your animal is in pain, it’s best to lightly use the soft tip of your index finger when giving her acupressure.
3. The Bai Hui point is located right in the middle on top of the sacrum. Most dogs and some cats absolutely love this point when you scratch it. It sends healthy energy along the spine and down the hind limbs. This point is also said to reduce pain and support a sense of well-being.
By offering this acupressure session twice a week, along with following your veterinarian’s recommendations, you can help your four-legged friends enjoy their lives again!