Acupressure is an alternative medicine technique based on the idea that life energy, also known as “chi”, flows through meridians of the body. When pressure is applied to acupressure points (acupoints), it helps to clear blockages within the meridians, ultimately helping to improve physical and emotional well-being. Acupressure has been practiced on humans for centuries, but our furry companions can also benefit. It can be done in the comfort of your own home with no tools or equipment, and takes very little time to implement. In fact, you can incorporate some basic acupressure techniques into your next grooming session!
According to Amy Snow, co-founder of Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Resources, acupressure can serve to help dogs and cats before, during and after grooming – but especially before. “There are specific acupressure points known to help animals stay calm and feel more trusting,” she says. “When dogs and cats are anxious they are less apt to be a willing participant in the grooming process. Anxiety can lead to injuries – to either you or your animal – whereas a relaxed, comfortable, and trusting animal results in a more pleasurable grooming experience for both concerned.”
To defuse anxiety and help build trust prior to a grooming session, try the simple acupressure technique illustrated in the chart below. “Begin with a simple tracing of the Bladder Meridian, which is located just off the cat or dog’s spine,” says Amy. “Use the soft heel of your hand and start just below the occiput. Gently and slowly glide your hand down the animal’s neck, back, and the caudal (back) edge of the hind leg, tracing the Bladder Meridian. Repeat this three times on both sides of the animal. Go slowly, there’s no rush!”
Once you have finished tracing the Bladder Meridian, apply gentle pressure on a series of acupoints that are known to calm the mind, resulting in relaxation and enhanced trust. Amy instructs to use the soft tip of you thumb (see image below), or your middle finger on top of pointer finger (see image at top of page), to apply light pressure to the acupoints shown in the chart. Stay on each point for a slow count of 20 before moving on to the next. Repeat on both sides of the cat or dog. Once complete, your animal will be ready for your grooming session and happy to enjoy the experience with you.
Just like with grooming, your demeanor is key when it comes to acupressure. “It’s important for the pet parent to be relaxed and focused on the health and well-being of their dog or cat,” says Amy. “Start by breathing in deeply and exhaling slowly while thinking about how you want to help your animal feel their best. Animals know immediately if you are thinking about what you are going to cook for dinner or buy at the market. An acupressure session is a partnership between you and your animal and the experience will be more beneficial when you are both fully present.
When it’s time to move on to your grooming session, be sure to maintain this present manner, and don’t reverse the benefits of the acupressure by using a harsh grooming tool. Instead, reach for one that’s effective and gentle, such as The StripHair Gentle Groomer. Designed to provide therapeutic benefits with regular use, it’ll keep your animal calm and content until the session is over – and long afterward!
Performing acupressure before grooming will help set the stage for a positive experience – one that will benefit both you and your animal companion. To learn more about the different techniques and benefits of this ancient modality, pick up a copy of ACU- DOG: Guide to Canine Acupressure and ACU-CAT: A Guide to Feline Acupressure.These basic texts help pet parents get started on their adventures with animal acupressure, and will put you in touch with thousands of years of natural healing.
All photos and chart courtesy of Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Resources.