Features July 2002 Issue

Using Acupressure to Relieve Stiffness

Acupressure relieves stiffness caused by long-distance travel.

Even at 12 years old, Sheba had the look of a regal Irish Setter. Her rich, red, silky coat flowed as she pranced. Still sleek and lean, her white face and telltale shorter gait were evidence that she was a healthy example of a senior-dog citizen. Sheba’s naps were getting longer and upon rising, her hind legs would need some coaxing to get going.

About this time Sheba and I had to move from Denver to Philadelphia. I planned to take my time driving cross-country so we could stop often and enjoy the trip. At the end of the first day of driving, Sheba jumped out of the back seat of my sedan with a little bounce. When we made stops on day two, she would look at me, stand up on the seat, and then step down with care. On the third day, she lay on the seat and needed to be cajoled and bribed to make the effort to get out of the car for every outing.

By the time we arrived in Philadelphia, Sheba was very stiff and in great discomfort. It took weeks of short walks and building toward longer walks to work out most of her arthritic kinks.

Whether your dog will take just one
long journey with you, or is a highway
veteran like this search and rescue
dog, he will benefit from acupressure.

I wish I knew then what I know now about helping older dogs be more comfortable when traveling or being confined for a period of time. The ancient healing art of acupressure offers our senior friends a lot of relief from the aches and pains of aging. It is very common for a dog to suffer the same difficulties we do as their years advance. Canine acupressure can:

• Relieve muscle spasms
• Strengthen the dog’s immune system
• Lubricate the joints to improve mobility
• Reduce inflammation associated with arthritis
• Enhance blood circulation for better function
• Release endorphins and natural cortisone to relieve pain and increase the dog’s general comfort level.

Making a difference
Today, my 11-year-old Chesapeake, Shayna, has the benefit of receiving weekly acupressure treatments. She had serious hindquarter problems as a puppy and had to have the spinal processes near her tail removed when she was 13 months old. As she grew older, her spine fused naturally and during the last three years, she has suffered from severe arthritis. And she still wants to run, jump, and play with the gusto of a dog a quarter of her age! Our senior canines want to do all the great things they used to do; we just have to help them feel better before, during, and after these activities.

We have taken a holistic approach in keeping Shayna healthy and happy. Along with regular acupressure treatments, she receives a mix of raw food, natural supplements, and a high-quality, dry kibble, plus quite a bit of exercise on uneven terrain to keep her muscles strong and joints well lubricated, and regular check-ups with a holistic veterinarian.

Acupressure has proven to help relieve the pain and stiffness of arthritis for humans and canines. Sitting or lying in one position for a long time while traveling can cause achy, stiff limbs. As animal acupressurists, we recommend using specific acupressure points during a treatment session every other day while traveling or to simply help your senior canine be more comfortable.

Now you try it
To get started, review the instructional guide included with this article. Then, take a few minutes to look over the three diagrams. Each one features points intended to help one portion of the dog’s body. You can use acupressure points from all three diagrams, but per acupressure session we suggest not using more than six to eight acupressure points.

Additionally, if you have not visited your veterinarian in more than six months prior to launching your vacation, we suggest you do – just to determine whether your dog is showing signs of increasing discomfort. Acupressure is not a substitute for appropriate veterinary care. However, it is an excellent complement to conventional care and something you can do for your animal yourself.

Dogs are highly attuned to acupressure since they love to be touched. By adding your healing intention to help ease his soreness, hurts, or pain, he knows and will demonstrate his appreciation in so many ways. You will both enjoy your travels together much more.

 

Also With This Article
Click here to view "A Guide to a Short Acupressure Treatment Session."

-by Nancy Zidonis and Amy Snow

Nancy Zidonis and Amy Snow are also the authors of "The Well-Connected Dog: A Guide to Canine Acupressure"; "Acu-Cat: A Guide to Feline Acupressure"; and "Equine Acupressure: A Working Manual". For contact information or workshop dates, see "Resources."

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