how acupressure can help abandoned dogs

A dog that has been abandoned often suffers from a host of physical, emotional and behavioral issues. Along with the proper veterinary care and lots of TLC, this simple acupressure session can help address his well-being on all levels.

No one reading this article would be capable of abandoning a dog. But sadly, shelters, rescues, and individuals involved in animal rescue work are faced on a daily basis with helping dogs that someone has abandoned. Whether they’ve been dropped off on a busy highway, deserted in the woods, or left behind when their owners move away, these dogs are understandably scared, confused and totally disoriented. If they’ve been on their own for any length of time, their health will have deteriorated due to poor nutrition, along with a lack of shelter and basic physical and emotional care. They can also be severely injured by cars and other animals.

Anyone who has rescued or adopted a dog that was previously abandoned knows how hard it is to bring him back from the trauma he’s experienced. They know about all the training, loving care, and veterinary bills it takes to rehabilitate a scared, sick or injured dog who has no reason to trust humans again.

The process usually begins with nutritious food, provided at regular times to establish a level of expectation and routine. A place to rest and sleep gives the dog a sense of safety and security, which is so important when he is accustomed to being wary at all times. Being able to exercise in a protected environment, whether he’s walking on a lead or playing in a backyard, helps relieve the dog’s fear and feelings of vulnerability. Some abandoned dogs may need training to help them integrate into a family setting.

In short, an abandoned dog can have a host of issues that need to be addressed. Often, it takes time, money and a lot of love to rehabilitate him. Throughout the process, you can offer the dog an acupressure session that will address both his physical and emotional issues. An acupressure session is non-invasive and safe, and can also help with bonding.

Selecting acupoints that can desensitize the constant fear he has endured will go a long way toward helping him relax and restore his feelings of well-being.

Acupressure and Chinese medicine

For newer readers, acupressure is based on Chinese medicine and has been used to sustain the health and well-being of humans and animals for thousands of years. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), channels or pathways flow through the body, carrying life-promoting energy called “chi” and other vital substances. When the flow of vital substances is blocked, the body becomes unbalanced and poorly-nourished. If the organ systems of the body do not receive nourishment they cannot function properly, and this can lead to illness.

Along each of the channels are pools of chi known as “acupoints”; we can access these points because they are just beneath the skin. When stimulated, the acupoints can encourage the flow of chi along the pathways and break up blockages, thus restoring a harmonious, balanced flow of chi and other vital substances.

Being abandoned takes a heavy toll on a dog. The sooner we can restore the flow of chi within his body, the better he will feel, both physically and emotionally.

Acupressure session for physical and emotional well-being

Conquering all the ills of an abandoned dog is a tall order. However, specific acupoints are known to help with general health and well-being. A dog living on the streets and scavenging to survive often has problems with digestion. This is the first issue to address because food and the body’s ability to absorb nutrients are related to health, a sense of grounding and contentment.

Another huge element in reconditioning an abandoned dog is addressing the fear, confusion and disorientation he experienced as he struggled to survive. Selecting acupoints that can desensitize the constant fear he has endured will go a long way toward helping him relax and restore his feelings of well-being.

Selecting acupoints that can desensitize the constant fear he has endured will go a long way toward helping him relax and restore his feelings of well-being.

An acupressure session for a previously abandoned dog should include acupoints that help with digestion, overall health and well-being, and emotional issues (see chart at left).

Stomach 36 (St 36) is the go-to acupoint for all digestive conditions. It is known as the “Master Point” for the gastrointestinal tract, because when stimulated, it enhances the entire digestion process including the breakdown of nutrients to make them bioavailable. St 36 can contribute to a feeling of groundedness while also stimulating the immune system.

Pericardium 6 (Pe 6) and Triple Heater 5 (TH 5) can be held simultaneously. Pe 6 (known as the “Inner Gate”) is on the medial side above the wrist on the dog’s foreleg, while TH 5 (the “Outer Gate”) is on the opposite lateral side above the wrist. Together, these acupoints calm the spirit, support the heart, and strengthen the body to ward off external pathogens. By holding these two points at the same time, you are effectively balancing the dog’s internal organs and building his immune system.

The Bai Hui point is a classical acupoint for animals. Dogs usually love having it scratched. It is the “Point of 100 Meeting” and is also called “Heaven’s Gate”. This point energizes the spine and hind limbs while providing a profound sense of well-being in dogs. Some dogs actually dance when the Bai Hui point is scratched. It is located on the sacrum along the dorsal midline.

For those new to acupressure – two techniques

During an acupressure sessions, you place both hands on the dog at the same time. One hand will be doing the point work while the other rests gently somewhere on his body. There are two basic techniques for stimulating acupoints — the Thumb Technique and the Two-Finger Technique.

  1. To use the Thumb Technique, gently place the soft tip of your thumb on the acupoint. Count slowly to 20, then move to the next point. This technique works best on larger dogs, and on the trunk, neck and larger muscles masses of medium-sized dogs.
  2. To use the Two-Finger Technique, place your middle finger on top of your index finger to form a little tent. Lightly put the soft tip of your index finger on the acupoint and count slowly to 20. This technique is good for small dogs, and for the lower extremities on medium to large dogs.

A previously abandoned dog probably has health problems needing veterinary attention, along with possible behavioral issues requiring professional consultation. By offering the dog this acupressure session every third day, you can join this team in helping him recover from an experience he should never have had to go through.