Did you know that the same points used for acupressure are used in acupuncture for dogs with arthritis? Proven to provide pain relief, decrease inflammation, and increase mobility, these important trigger points can be stimulated or massaged by owners to support their pet’s arthritis treatments.

Never Try Acupuncture at Home

Before we talk about specific acupuncture points for dogs with arthritis, and how you can use massage to treat them at home, we must advise:
Dog sleeping on animal bedWe recommend reading our page on Acupuncture for Pets, where you’ll find a detailed explanation of what acupuncture is, the benefits, and what a pet’s acupuncture session looks/feels like. However, if you continue scrolling down that page, you’ll notice two critical bullet points:

  • Your veterinary acupuncturist must be a licensed veterinarian.
  • Your veterinary acupuncturist should have formal training in the practice of acupuncture for animals. (For example, the Chi Institute offers a certification program for veterinarians to become certified veterinary acupuncturists.)

Never try acupuncture on your own, and never let anybody without the above qualifications/experience use acupuncture on your dog. Not only will it potentially do more harm than good, any related pain or negative side effects incurred from an unprofessional and unlicensed practitioner traumatizes your pet. This makes it harder for pets to benefit from acupuncture treatments from a licensed, holistic veterinarian because they are too afraid to settle down and relax into the process.
In the meantime, we encourage you to speak with your veterinarian about other ways you can manipulate or massage acupuncture points for arthritic dogs – without needles – providing continuous care and relief at home.

Practice Acupressure at Home to Relieve Canine Arthritis Pain

Needles are a no-no for novices, but your tender loving fingers and some skillful massage techniques are recommended to keep the good qi (chi) – or energy – flowing for your pet. This energy – which the western world identifies as electrical impulses and nerve impulse/energy along the neural pathways – helps to reduce inflammation, minimize pain, and boost the body’s immune system.
Once all of those benefits kick into gear, your pet feels better, and that can result in:

  • More enthusiasm and energy
  • Rekindled passion for walks, traveling and playing
  • Improved appetite
  • Lower stress/anxiety levels
  • Less need for prescription arthritis or pain medications
  • Decreased or eliminated aggression or touchiness associated with dogs in chronic pain

You can support all of those goals – and more – by incorporating arthritis-specific acupressure massages into your daily cuddling and quality time with your dog. Even five- or ten-minutes per day, focusing on key acupressure points that relieve arthritis in dogs, makes a difference and optimizes your ROI on any acupuncture sessions you attend at your local veterinarian’s office.

Print out a Chart of Canine Acupressure Points for Arthritis

If your vet doesn’t have an available pamphlet or chart for you, we recommend printing a chart showing acupressure points for dogs with arthritis, such this one from animalwellnessguide.com. There, you’ll notice several points, identified by letters and numbers:

  • Bl 11
  • Bl 17
  • Bl 40
  • Bl 62
  • Sl 3

They include a description of what each of these points is associated with and the type of support that each point relates to when it’s stimulated.
At a calm time of day for you and your dog, have your dog lay beside you (most dogs will naturally lay down because the process feels safe, secure, loving and because they feel good afterward). Rest one hand gently on your dog’s body in a calm and present way. Using the soft pad of the opposite hand’s thumb, press gently but firmly on the first of the pressure points (also called acupoints), holding for a slow count of 30. Then, move to the next.
Saying “good boy/girl,” or whatever familiar, encouraging words you typically use also keeps your pet calm, as s/he adjusts to this new treatment. Try doing it every day for a few days, and then giving it a break for a day.  If your dog seems particularly tender or agitated by pressure on a certain point, release that point immediately and calmly move on – trying again the next day.
Watch This Video, where certified acupressure practitioner and veterinary technician Dawn Smith shows how to locate acupressure points on a dog more accurately; acupoints are found in the hollows, rather than the bony points, of the musculoskeletal system. Here is another video, which talks about how you can use massage to end/close your at-home acupressure session.
The team at Wise & Wonderful Integrative Veterinary Center witness the benefits of stimulating acupuncture points for dogs with arthritis daily. We love sharing what we know with our patients’’ human companions, teaching them how to use these natural healing techniques at home. Contact us for more information.