For more than 3,000 years, people have practiced the ancient technique of acupressure -- manipulating pressure points along the body. Much like humans, a dog’s body is full of pressure points which, when properly stimulated, can treat health conditions, assist with training or even promote relaxation. Knowing where to locate pressure points and what behaviors or conditions they are attributed to can help you practice this holistic technique on your dog.
Head and Neck
Pressure points, thought to work by balancing the body’s life force energy known as chi, are located throughout a dog’s head. The pressure point known as gallbladder 20, or GB 20, is located on the back of a dog’s head at the base skull. Properly massaging this spot can decrease a dog’s nervousness and irritability and may improve sinus infections and reduce seizures. Governing vessel 26, GV 26, the “revival point” located on the face where the hairless part of the nose meets the upper lip, has been used to treat respiratory arrest, sun stroke or unconsciousness.
Back and Spine
Several pressure points located along the sides of a dog’s spine between the vertebrae can be manipulated to treat gastrointestinal or respiratory problems. Points bladder 21 and 22, known as BL 21 and 22, both located on the lower back along the spine, can be used to reduce vomiting, improve stomach problems and promote kidney health. Higher up along the spine, between your dog’s shoulder blades, rests BL 13, bladder 13. Massaging this point could benefit a dog suffering from pneumonia and bronchitis.
Front and Back Legs
Both a dog’s front and hind legs contain multiple pressure points known to decrease pain and promote general health and wellness. On the back of the hind legs, behind the knee, sits BL 40, also called bladder 40. According to Dog Buddha, this point, found in the depression on the crease of the knee, can reduce overall pain and stiffness and alleviate constipation. If your dog suffers from allergies, try manipulating LI 11, large intestine 11, located on the outside your dog’s front legs at the elbow where the leg meets in the body.
Paws and Toes
Your dog’s paws contain points, known as master pressure points, thought to restore the balance of energy to your dog’s face, mouth and legs. The point, large intestine 4, LI 4, is located inside the first toe in the web between the toe and the dewclaw or where the dewclaw would be. Massaging this point not only relieves pain, but also increases a dog’s overall immunity. When massaging this point, press lightly to start as this point is extremely sensitive and pressing too hard could cause your dog pain.
While a useful tool, acupressure is not meant to replace routine veterinary care essential to your dog's overall health and well-being. You dog's symptoms may be caused by an underlying health condition that requires medical attention. Also, because acupressure can be painful when performed incorrectly. Visit a certified professional to learn more about the technique. Veterinarians specializing in holistic healing can perform these procedures at their offices or assist you with at-home instructions.