A good diet and healthy digestive system are vital to your dog or cat’s well-being. Here’s why, along with an acupressure session that will help improve and maintain the health of his GI tract.
by Amy Snow and Nancy Zidonis
When it comes to our dogs and cats, a species-appropriate diet helps support good digestion. Knowing the difference between a carnivorous and omnivorous diet is a good place to start, along with a basic understanding of how your animal’s digestive system works – and how acupressure can be used to further support those processes and boost your dog or cat’s health and well-being.
Carnivores, Omnivores, and Other Definitions
Dogs and cats are considered carnivores because they are monogastric, which means they have a single stomach. They also have sharp, pointy teeth designed to rip meat off bones, and their jaws are so strong they can tear the meat with a shearing action. As carnivores, cats and dogs are very much alike in these respects.
An animal with the ability to eat and digest both plant and animal matter is considered an omnivore. Dogs are omnivores as well as carnivores; however, cats are omnivorous to only a limited extent. Even though both species have the same digestive systems, their ancestral, biological imperatives differ when it comes to specific amounts of certain nutrients.
Cats are protein obligates, which means a high percentage of their diet must be meat, fish, or another high-quality protein. They need very few vegetables or grains. In fact, the only plant matter a cat needs is about the size of what the mouse has left in its stomach when it becomes the cat’s dinner. People often say their cats are picky eaters, but it may be for a good reason. Kittens in the wild are taught by their mothers how to hunt and what’s safe to eat. The food you think might be ideal may not be the best for your cat, and she knows it. As protein obligates, cats know they need real meat, fish, and organs to be healthy.
Hint: If your cat is “finicky,” it probably means you are not offering enough of the foods she deems edible.
On the other hand, dogs can readily digest many forms of plant matter along with meat, fish proteins, and any other food they can find. Dogs can gobble and digest chunks of food with ease and are far less discriminating than cats. This is why stray dogs can survive on the streets for quite some time; when they’re hungry, they’ll track down a discarded burrito or a piece of fried chicken and eat it voraciously. Because of this, dogs can be considered “opportunivores” as well as carnivores and omnivores, because they have the ability to thrive on a wide variety of foods.
Acupressure Session: Digestion Tune-Up
Along with feeding your dog or cat a healthy, species-appropriate diet, you can also take a few minutes every day to give him an acupressure session that supports the motility of his digestive tract and the absorption of the bioavailable nutrients created during the digestive process. It will ensure his Stomach Chi performs optimally for the maintenance of good health, and can also be used to contribute to the harmonious flow of Stomach Chi if he’s under veterinary care.
Hint: If your dog or cat is showing any signs of digestive issues, such as repetitive vomiting, weight loss, diarrhea, constipation, lethargy, loss of muscle tone, frequent undigested food in the feces, and food avoidance, it’s important to take him to the veterinarian for assessment.
- Stomach 36 (St 36), Leg 3 Miles: Considered the Master point for the stomach and gastrointestinal (GI) tract. When your animal is showing any signs of indigestion, such as loose stools, stimulating this acupoint can help restore healthy functioning of the stomach and GI tract as a whole. St 36 is located on the outside (lateral side) of the animal’s hind leg below the stifle (knee) toward the front of the leg.
- Conception Vessel 12 (CV 12), Middle Stomach Cavity: A powerful acupoint that regulates and strengthens the stomach and spleen. Because of this action, CV 12 relieves digestive issues. This acupoint is located on your animal’s ventral (lower) midline halfway between the xiphoid process (the cartilage at the end of the ribs) and the umbilicus (belly button).
Looking after your dog or cat’s digestion is one of the top ways to keep him healthy and happy. Diet and acupressure can work together to help you achieve this important goal.