Acupressure for Arthritis in Dogs and Horses

The following post is reprinted, with permission, from the Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Blog.

Canine and Equine Osteoarthritis
by Amy Snow and Nancy Zidonis

The most common type of arthritis for dogs and horses is osteoarthritis. It’s a degenerative joint disease characterized by the wearing a way of cartilage. It can be the result of impact trauma, injury, over-use, infection, poor conformation, hereditary issues, mineral or dietary deficiencies, and aging. Horses and dogs involved in competitive activities are more apt to develop arthritis at an earlier age due to the increased stress on their joints.

Being aware of common causes combined with early detection of arthritis affords you the opportunity to slow the progression of the disease. Early signs of arthritis can be:

  •  Mild swelling and heat in the joint
  •  Reluctance or refusal to perform in his usual activity or sport
  •  Stiffness following inactivity                        
  •  Favoring a limb
  •  Decrease in joint flexibility (range of motion)
  •  Crunching (“crepitus”) sound when the joint is flexed
  •  Tenderness of joint upon palpation
  •  Tiring more quickly than usual, and,
  •  Sudden attitude or mood change.

As osteoarthritis progresses, the horse or dog will most likely exhibit an increasing degree of lameness and escalating pain.

When cartilage is worn there’s less synovial fluid in the joint, the opposing bones receive greater impact. As horse or dog ages, (or a young animal due to other factors such as injury), his tendons and ligaments are not as strong and flexible as they need to be for joint stability. These conditions can lead to joint instability, inflammation, pronounced swelling and obvious lameness. The body’s natural reaction to this painful condition is to grow more bone in an attempt to protect itself.  The over-growth of bone indicates severe osteoarthritis. This condition is very painful and mobility is definitely compromised.
Acupressure Session
By offering your horse an acupressure session after training or trail riding you are supporting the enhancement of nutrients to his joints while removing toxin build up in the tissues. This will aid in easing any resulting pain from the workout, support the replenishment of synovial fluid, and bring blood supply to tissues of the joints. Hence, the reduced risk of developing osteoarthritis or having it progress rapidly.
The acupoints selected for a general joint health acupressure session in the following Equine Joint Health chart are not specific to a particular joint. If you suspect your dog or horse of having or in the process of developing osteoarthritis, please consult with your holistic veterinarian and acupressure practitioner for more specific acupoints for the area of concern.



Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

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