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Acupressure For Hip Dysplasia

Please click on the title below to be taken to a video course hosted by eHow and Dawn Smith. There are 16 short videos covering many areas. Well worth studying.

Dog Acupressure Benefits for Hip Dysplasia

Dawn Smith has been a traditional Chinese herbal medicine practitioner for six years and a registered veterinary technician over 20 years. Smith has practiced Chinese herbal therapy and taught acupressure techniques in England and California before moving to Cape Cod. She welcomes both human and animal clients at Classical Chinese Herbal Therapy.

Healing With Touch

Whether they are licking sore feet, rubbing a stiff shoulder into the grass, or swooning with delight as you rub their bellies or backs, dogs and cats know instinctively that touching feels good - and is good for them. Touching keeps them healthy. There are different forms of Touch Therapy, from massage to acupressure to the gentle application of a warm towel that can ease pain, reduce stress and help injuries heal more quickly. There is even evidence that serious internal problems like asthma and heart irregularities respond to hands-on care.

The great things with hands-on care is that you don't have to be a veterinarian to get results. Many forms of touch therapy, like massage and acupressure are easy to learn and safe to administer. And in some cases, they can reduce the need for drugs or risky and expensive medical treatments.

Elderly pets with arthritis, for example, can often regain their mobility and play like youngsters again when their owners spend a few minutes a day massaging and stretching their tight muscles and joints. Applying a cold pack to a sprained leg or injured tail almost instantly numbs the pain whilst reducing pain and swelling. It is even possible to control epileptic seizures with acupressure, a simple technique in which you apply finger pressure to specific points on the skin.

When you touch your pets, their heart rate decreases dramatically, which indicates that they are  relaxing. In fact many holistic veterinarians use a technique called TTouch (pronounced tee-touch) to calm pets before and after veterinary treatments, thought to reduce stress and help pets heal more quickly.

As a bonus, the same touches that pets love are good for you too. Studies have found that animal owners who touch their pets lower their own blood pressure and stress levels, get fewer colds and backaches and are less likely to suffer from insomnia.

I have been using ACUPRESSURE on Casper for his Hip Dysplasia so want to concentrate mainly on that for the moment as it seems to be having great benefits for him.

How To Use Acupressure

The basic principles are easy to understand. Onec you know which acupressure points to target, you can help to trat many of your pet's problems yourself.

Most conditions need a combination of points to correct. Your veterinarian will show you which points you need to press for different conditions. Below are two diagrams where you can see many of the common acupressure points, along with the symptoms or parts of the body each point corresponds to.

Fig: 1
Fig: 2

Most acupressure points are located in depressions between muscles and bones. As you stroke your pet, feel for a slight dip in the tissue - it is probably one of the acupressure points. Even if you are not sure exactly where a point is, you may be able to find it by feeling a slight shift in temperature. A warm point indicates an area where there is an acute energy blockage. When you find a cold point, it means there is more of a chronic problem and the energy has been depleted from that area.

While acupressure is helpful for many conditions, including acne, diarrhea, vomiting and asthma, it also relieves pain, especially joint pain. The BL60 point (refer to diagram 1) on the rear ankle is known as "The Aspirin Point" because it relieves pain anywhere in the body. This has been especially good for Casper when he is having a painful hip day with his hip dysplasia.

Unlike many mainstream medical techniques in which a slight error can cause serious problems, acupressure is more forgiving. Even if you are not exactly sure where to press, coming close will still be helpful. If you are trying to relieve hip pain, you can often do it by pressing anywhere near the problem area, even if you are not on the proper acupressure point. It is not likely that you will overstimulate a point using acupressure, and it is not dangerous to press the wrong point either.

Even though acupressure is extremely safe, it should not be used for some conditions. Holistic veterinarians believe that pressing acupressure points on pets with cancer may stimulate tumours to grow. Also, acupressure may be dangerous for treating wounds and infections because the pressure could cause the infection to spread. It is always a good idea to check with your vet before trying acupressure yourself.

In many cases, once you know what is causing your pet's problem, acupressure may help correct it. Here's how:

* Use the illustrations in Figs 1 and 2 to find the acupressure point (or points) that correspond with your pet's symptoms.

* Place your index finger (or your thumb when treating a large dog) on the point and press down into the body - don't rub or make circular movements. You want to push hard enough to make an indentation in the tissue, but not so hard that it causes pain.

* Hold the pressure for five seconds to one minute, then release. Repeat the treatment the next day.

You won't often see immediate results, but you should notice some improvement in yout pet's condition in 24 to 48 hours. Acute conditions like a strained muscle will often get better after two or three treatments. But for long-term problems like arthritis, you will have to continue the treatments for some time. For example, your vet may recommend that you press the point once a day for two to three days in a row. After that, you might repeat the treatment every other day or every third day for a few weeks. Then you will probably continue the treatment once a wek until the problem is under control.

Hip Dysplasia

The ball-shaped upper end of the thigh bone is designed to fit snugly into the socket of the hipbone. But in dogs with hip dysplasia, the hip socket may be too shallow (like Caspers') to firmly cradle the thighbone, or the surrounding muscles and tendons may be too weak to hold the bones together. In either case, hip dysplasia puts a lot of stress on one or both hip joints, causing pain and inflammation as well as difficulty walking or getting up. Casper somedays has difficulty walking and sitting and slips easily on floors on a bad day. We now have rugs everywhere to help support him.
Hip dysplasia can strike any dog, (cats rarely get it), although the larger breeds have the highest risk. Since hip dysplasia is an inherited condition, there is no easy way to prevent it, although keeping your dog trim and active will help reduce the risk. Casper was born with the problem.
Once a dog has it, the usual teatment is to give anti-flammatory painkilling medications like cortisone or aspirin-like drugs during flare-ups. I feel that although these drugs can stop the symptoms, they can cause (in some cases) uncomfortable and sometimes  dangerous side effects. Natural alternatives that may be just as effective as drugs for relieving pain and increasing mobility is a much better bet for Casper. He will have to have his hip replacement next year when he is 18 months old, of this we are sure, but we need to get him there as mobile and painfree as possible. My worry is that using medicine to do this may cause problems in other regards over  this long period, so, I am trying natural treatments at the moment and am quite pleased with the results.

Such as:
* Press away pain: There are three acupressure points I use for Casper apart from the aspirin point BL60. These are BL54, GB29 and GB30 - surrounding the bony hipbone that can be stimulated for quick pain relief for hip dysplasia. Make a three finger tripod with your thumb and index and middle fingers and surround the bone. Place your index finger at the top of the bone and your thumb and middle finger on each side, then press for about 60 seconds.

* Supplement the joints: Hip dysplasia puts uneven pressure on the joints, which can wear away the protective cartilage and possibly cause a painful form of arthritis. Glucosamine supplements help the body repair cartilagea and increase lubrication in the joints. I use SERAQUIN - a nutritional supplemant for dogs. For 6 weeks Casper had three a day, then dropped to 21/2 a day, then 2 a day and now he remains on 11/2 daily for his size. These were £38 a box of 60 from my veterinarean but I have found a very reputable comapny VETMEDIC where I can purchase a box of 60 for £20, no postage/packing so basically I get two for the price of one. A big saving, they actually make the supplement and that is where my vet gets them from.
You can purchase many medication for your pet from this company. You do not need a prescription for Seraquin but some medications you may need to get a prescription from your vet. They are much cheaper to purchase here making it easier to cope financially when your pet becomes ill.

*Stop the swelling: Much of the pain of hip dysplasia is caused by inflammation inside and surrounding the joint. Vitamin E and C have been shown to reduce inflammation as well as cartilage damage. Ask your vet about this.

* Massage away the pain: Giving a dog a daily massage relaxes tight muscles and relieves pain by increasing circulation. Starting with slow, firm strokes to warm up the muscles, followed by fingertip pressure on the muscles either side of the spine in the lower back and then down the back legs. Do not press on the bones, just rub the muscles that lie alongside them.

*Give herbal relief: A popular Indian remedy for pan in the back is the herb boswellia (Boswellia serrata). the herb is available from some holistic veterinarians and pet supply catalogues. Check with your vet to give the precise dose for the size of your dog.

* Put heat on the hips: One of the quickest remedies for hip dysplasia is to apply a little warmth to the area, which increases circulation and reduces pain in the joint. You could wrap a hot water bottle or heating pad in a thick towel and apply to achy hips for about 10 minute twice a day. Wheat bags, heated up in the microwave are another good idea. Caspers' favourite however is a simply hairdryer moved around his hips/back on a low heat whilst massaging the area. I do this before he goes for his walks, every time, as this helps the blood circulate and actually helps him to walk a little further.

* Keep him/her trim: Nothing is cuter than a chubby puppy, but research has shown that those that are fed too much grow too quickly, which can cause hip problems later on. If your dog is already showing too much padding, talk to your vet about putting him/her on a weight loss plan.

*Exercise: Dogs that stay active develop strong muscles that help support the hip joints. Even if your dog already has hip dysplasia, regular exercise can reduce pain and stiffness. Here many differ in their opinions. Some say barely any exercise and plenty of rest, others say plenty of exercise. From my experience with Casper I have found that he needs exercise 3 or 4 times daily, short walks with just one a bit longer. He also gets plenty of bed rest. Swimming is ideal because the water helps support your dogs' weight, taking pressure off the hips. Casper goes to hydrotherapy twice a week where he swims in warm water. He is completely dried, never left damp and rests for several hours after each session. When Casper goes out for his walks, as it is cold here now, he wears a waterproof thermal polo neck coat which is kept on a radiator, to keep it warm, and is put on straight after his hips are warmed with the hairdryer. If is is raining, his feet etc are completely dried on his return and then he rests.

* Bed: Casper has an orthopaedic mattress covered in warm fleeces to sleep on to help support his joints. He sleeps in a large crate, where he has plenty of room, by my bed at night. He is confined to his crate at intervals during the day for rest - suggested by his veterinarean.
These are the things we do to support Casper in his fight with Hip Dyslasia which he has quite bad. These may not be suitable for you or your pet so do always please consult your vet before trying anything new. Hip Dysplasia should always be properly diagnosed for the welfare of your pet. It is a very serious/crippling condition which should not be treated lightly.

I hope you find this information helpful.

Warmest Wishes
Hillary Rose
(Casper's Mum)

Information/diagrams are from "Natural Healing for Dogs & Cats" and from my own experience as a pet owner.