What is Acupressure?

Acupressure is an ancient Chinese healing practice similar to acupuncture that has been in use for over 5,000 years. Primarily used in humans, it is becoming common practice for dogs as an alternative remedy to help relieve symptoms such as pain and nausea.  Unlike acupuncture, which uses needles at certain pressure points along your dog’s body, veterinarians perform acupuncture by putting gentle pressure on these points along the body. Acupressure is gentle and non-invasive, allowing it to be used daily for dogs suffering from chronic pain.  It is a good alternative for dogs who do not tolerate the use of needles in acupuncture. 

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Acupressure Procedure in Dogs

Optimally, dogs who are to receive acupressure have already seen a vet and been diagnosed with a specific condition. Acupressure is not always the first or preferred treatment. Dogs may not tolerate acupuncture well so acupressure is the next alternative. In a few cases, acupressure may be a better option due to the location of the pain or medical condition. 

The practitioner or vet will review all the medical records and then perform a physical examination. This helps them to pinpoint the most accurate uses of the technique and which pressure points are likely to provide the best treatment results. At this time, the practitioner will make recommendations about the type and length of treatments, which usually involves one to three sessions a week for several weeks. 

Acupressure involves applying gentle pressure to a number of points along the body. There are more than 150 pressure points identified on a dog’s body. Each pressure point is associated with a location, such as a muscle, joint, or internal organ. If there is an injury, acupressure frequently surrounds the area where the injury is located. The practitioner maintains the pressure on the points for about 15 seconds and then releases. Sessions usually last between 15 and 30 minutes and are quite relaxing once the dog learns to be comfortable with the person administering therapy.

Efficacy of Acupressure in Dogs

Acupressure has yielded good results for certain medical conditions. Acupressure is quite effective in treating chronic pain from injuries or muscle and skeletal conditions. In cancer patients undergoing traditional treatments for their condition, acupressure can improve their quality of life. 

The results of acupressure tend to be cumulative so it may take a few weeks before you see considerable difference. However, for dogs with chronic pain or anxiety, some relief may be noticed with days of the first treatment. 

Acupressure is an ongoing therapy and, for dogs to continue reaping benefits, the treatments must be repeated on a regular basis. The goal is gain the greatest amount of relief and maintain it with the least amount of follow up treatments. 

Acupressure is generally a treatment that complements other treatments, but in the case of pain management it may replace pain medications. While pain medications are generally considered safe, continued use can be hard on internal organs. Acupressure is an alternative which can reduce or eliminate the need for some of the medications and is a good choice for long term management of chronic pain. 

Acupressure Recovery in Dogs

Acupressure is completely noninvasive and gentle so there is little or no need for recovery. In some cases, especially early in treatment, the pressure points may be painful and might experience a bit of soreness or stiffness. This passes quickly and over time, your pet will look forward to acupressure treatments. 

Cost of Acupressure in Dogs

The pricing of acupressure therapy is approximate $45 to $65 per treatment depending on how much time the practitioner spends with your dog, how well behaved they are, and what their condition is. Acupuncture typically costs more due to the use of needles and the length of the treatment, which is somewhat longer than acupressure. 

Dog Acupressure Considerations

There are no known risks of acupressure since it is completely non-invasive. During treatments, pain is avoided as much as possible when applying pressure to the specific points. It is so safe that practitioners have taught it to pet owners so they can continue treatments at home. In addition to being completely safe, acupressure can be used with a variety of other treatments, including acupuncture and pain relievers, without fear of complications or interactions to achieve the desired relief. 

Remember acupressure is not a cure, it can only relieve symptoms, but the underlying conditions still need treatment or monitoring by a veterinarian. It is also important to keep in mind that acupressure is a milder alternative to acupuncture. If it does not provide relief it is time to seek the advices of a holistic veterinarian for other options such as acupuncture, massage, and pain medications. 

Acupressure Prevention in Dogs

Acupressure has a broad range of uses including as a preventative for injuries in working and athletic dogs. It can be compared to deep massage in terms of its applications and usefulness, and as such it can be difficult to avoid the use of a treatment such as this that provides so many benefits. However, a good diet and plenty of exercise and play can help to delay or avoid chronic pain and other degenerative diseases. Visiting your veterinarian regularly can also help to ensure that any medical conditions are addressed early on before they cause your pet serious or debilitating pain.