Dog Acupressure and Acupuncture – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Ancient Healing in Modern Times

Acupressure, like acupuncture, is rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Both disciplines use the same meridian and point system, yet differ because animal guardians can contribute their touch and energy with acupressure, rather than inserting needles. Only veterinarians with acupuncture training are allowed to use needles. By learning acupressure, you can participate in the health and well-being of your dogs, cats, and horses. Sharing this knowledge with your favorite animals offers you both a rich experience.

In China, acupressure is called Tui Na (the original Chinese meridian massage techniques). Today, Tui Na is used far more extensively in China than acupuncture. Because fine needles are inserted at the “acupoint” sites, acupuncture is considered an invasive procedure that only trained veterinarians are allowed to perform. Acupressure is safe, deceptively gentle, and always available for animal guardians, trainers, and health care practitioners to offer.


Thousands of years of clinical observation have proven the benefits of acupressure, which include:

    • Building the immune system
    • Relieving muscle spasms
  • Releasing emotional blockages
  • Strengthening muscles, tendons, joints and bones
  • Replenishing the horse’s physical and emotional energy
  • Releasing endorphins necessary to increase energy or relieve pain
  • Balancing energy to optimize the body’s natural ability to heal
  • Releasing natural cortisone to reduce swelling and inflammation
  • Enhancing mental clarity and calm required for focus in training and performance
  • Resolving injuries more readily by increasing the blood supply and removing toxins.

Acupressure is Well-Accepted within the Animal Caring Community

Acupressure has been in continuous use with animals from ancient times to now. In the past ten years there has been a surge of interest in bringing this ancient healing art back to the forefront of animal health care. Animal acupressure is an emerging career as evidenced by the growing number of equine acupressure practitioners worldwide. As further evidence, Hocking College in southern Ohio has devoted acupressure course work to their Equine Sciences curriculum. The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) offers Continuing Education credits for animal acupressure. And, the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure & Massage ( has prepared examinations for these disciplines that reflect standards of professionalism.


Animals are particularly responsive to acupressure. They love touch and they know what helps them to feel healthy and vital. It is rewarding to work with animals because they don’t want to hold on to their “owies” the way humans ten to do. When the hurt is over, they happily get up and go and don’t look back. Combining your animals energetic connection and your healing and loving intention with the ancient healing modality of acupressure offers a powerful resource you take with you anywhere you go.

How does Acupressure Work?

Unique to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the concept of chi, also seen as Qi or Ki and pronounced as “chee,” life-promoting energy. Chi and blood must flow harmoniously throughout the animal’s body along channels or pathways known as meridians. When there’s any type of obstruction or stagnation of the flow of these two vital substances, the body can’t function optimally because the body isn’t receiving the nourishment it needs.

Chinese medicine aims to prevent illness by maintaining a balanced flow of chi and blood to all the internal organ systems and tissues. To be healthy animals need to have a good diet, daily exercise, rest, as natural an environment as possible, and acupressure to help sustain and replenish the balance of chi and blood.


When chi is blocked along the meridians or within an organ, an internal imbalance occurs and the body becomes compromised. This imbalance can lead to health issues. For example, let’s say your dog has a drippy nose, his breathing sounds congested, and his energy level is low. You know that his Lung organ system, which is the Lung organ and its meridian, has become imbalanced and his lungs are not receiving the proper amount of chi and blood to be healthy.

To help restore your dog’s health, you can use acupressure points, (also called “acupoints”), known to stimulate and rebalance the Lung chi. By palpating specific acupoints and adding your own energy you can work with your dog’s body to remove the blockage. This is how acupressure works.

Better yet, don’t wait until your dog, cat or horse has a health problem.  If you maintained the animal’s immune system by regular acupressure session, you may not have to deal with any health problems, short of an injury or accident.



By Amy Snow and Nancy Zidonis, Founders of Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute Nancy Zidonis and Amy Snow are the authors of: “Acu-Dog: A Guide to Canine Acupressure, Equine Acupressure: A Working Manual“, and “Acu-Cat: A Guide to Feline Acupressure“. They founded Tallgrass, which offers books, manuals, DVDs, Apps and meridian charts. Tallgrass also provides hands-on and online training courses worldwide including a 330-hour Practitioner Certification Program. Tallgrass is an approved school by the Dept. of Higher Education through the State of Colorado and an approved provider of National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) Continuing Education.

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