Otherwise known as acupressure-massage, Tui Na is an ancient Chinese modality that can contribute to health and longevity in dogs and cats.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our dogs and cats lived as long as we do? While that’s not achievable, unfortunately, we can nevertheless take measures to help ensure our companion animals stay healthy so they can live as long as possible. Among the many modalities and therapies that can boost wellness and contribute to longevity is Tui Na, the original Chinese modality of acupressure-massage.

The Aging Process

Like humans, dogs and cats are individuals with different constitutions in different environments. These differences determine how long they will live. On average, dogs live ten to 14 years, while cats live around 12 to 18 years, with a few lasting even into their 20s.

Cats tend to be trickier than dogs when it comes to detecting how they are aging because felines are hard-wired to hide pain, weakness, and discomfort. Ancestral cats would become prey when they showed evidence of sickness or weakness. So it’s up to us to be alert to signs of aging when our cats are between seven and ten years old.

Dogs tend to show more obvious signs as they age. While some think they are puppies well into middle age, the average dog by the age of six is not running, jumping and playing as vigorously as in previous years.

Though aging is inevitable and preferable to an early demise, there are ways of supporting your cat or dog’s health as he ages. By combining current conventional veterinary medicine with alternative healthcare modalities, such as Tui Na, you can support hie enjoyment of life well into his golden years.

What Is Tui-Na?

For thousands of years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been a tremendous resource for health and longevity. It offers ancient wisdom for sustaining life, and is dedicated to the prevention of ill health in any form. Tui Na (pronounced “tway nah”) is the original Chinese acupressure-massage and one of the pillars of TCM. The words translate as “push grasp.”

Tui Na is used in China for promoting longevity, which is referred to as Chang Shou in Chinese. When working with older animals, our intent is to soothe their aches and pains while supporting their vitality. The beauty of Tui Na is that you can easily help your dog or cat feel his or her best by following the directions and charts included with this article.

Acupoints for Longevity

Kidney 27 (Ki 27)

This acupressure point is commonly used to enhance the flow of vital energy. It is located at the front of the chest on each side of the manubrium (broad upper part of the sternum) in front of the ribs. You should be able to feel soft deep holes on each side. Using the soft tips of your thumb and forefinger, hold these points at the same time for a slow count of 20.

Bladder Meridian

Starting on the side of the neck, using either the flat of your hand on a large or medium-sized dog, or your forefinger and middle finger on a small dog or cat, slowly and gently trace down the Bladder Meridian, just off the spine (as shown on the chart). Repeat this tracing three to six times on both sides of the animal. This process is calming and soothing, and has significant health benefits for older animals.

Bai Hui Point

The Bai Hui point is known as the “feel good point” for our four-legged companions. It’s located on the dorsal midline between the hips where there are no spinous processes. It feels like a soft spot in the middle of the sacrum. Lightly scratch or rub that point to bring up energy. This point can become addictive for your special senior!

Offering this brief Tui Na session along with good nutrition, exercise, mental stimulation, and holistic or integrative veterinary care will give you more time to enjoy the company of your dog or cat. While growing older is a natural part of life, making the best of his golden years is a gift of time for you both.


The Bai Hui point is known as the “feel good point” for our four-legged companions.


Caring for Your Senior

Common signs of aging in dogs and cats include:

  • Less activity and an increase in sleep
  • Loss of ability to self-groom
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Decreased hearing or vision
  • Increase in aggression or anxiety
  • Change in vocalization
  • Increase in water consumption and urination

Dogs and cats are living longer than at any other time in history, thanks to our attention to their needs, especially as they grow older.

  • We know that nutrition plays an important part in keeping our dogs and cats healthy. Even in old age, cats are protein obligates. Dogs tend to be “opportunivores,” which means their diet is varied, but they still need nutritional building blocks for good health. A canine or feline nutritionist can help you make sure your animal is eating appropriately.
  • Mental stimulation and physical exercise are two keys to maintaining your animal’s well-being. Walking, playing, and socializing helps keep your dog fit in mind and spirit. A huge variety of cat toys and climbing towers can keep your feline friend challenged and active.
  • Veterinary care is essential for monitoring and supporting your senior animal’s overall health and longevity. Veterinary medicine can help identify and manage illnesses and issues associated with old age, such as kidney disease, arthritis, and digestive problems.
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Amy Snow is one of the authors of Acu-Cat: A Guide to Feline Acupressure, Acu-Dog: a Guide to Canine Acupressure and The Well-Connected Dog: A Guide to Canine Acupressure. Amy Snow, together with Nancy Zidonis own Tallgrass Publishers, which offers meridian charts for cats and dogs as well as manuals, DVDs and canine acupressure apps for mobile devices. They founded the Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute, offering hands-on and online training courses worldwide, including a Practitioner Certification Program (animalacupressure.com or Tallgrass@animalacupressure.com).
Nancy Zidonis is one of the authors of Acu-Cat: A Guide to Feline Acupressure, Acu-Dog: a Guide to Canine Acupressure and The Well-Connected Dog: A Guide to Canine Acupressure. Nancy Zidonis, together with Amy Snow own Tallgrass Publishers, which offers meridian charts for cats and dogs as well as manuals, DVDs and canine acupressure apps for mobile devices. They founded the Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute, offering hands-on and online training courses worldwide, including a Practitioner Certification Program (animalacupressure.com or Tallgrass@animalacupressure.com).