The Bladder Meridian Outer Line

Gretchen Deitz, Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute

Dezi came to us after the sudden and tragic loss of his human guardian. A 13-year-old terrier mix who looks one-part Tramp (from “Lady and the Tramp”) and one-part David Niven (the debonair actor), Dezi seemed, at first, like a well-balanced dog. But after those first few weeks, we came to realize that Dezi had been  traumatized not only by the loss of his human companion, but also by his human’s declining mental health in the final years of his life.tallgrass dog acupressure

Dezi’s trauma showed itself in many ways. He slept in a tiny little ball on the smallest corner of the couch, trying as hard has he could not to take up space. Particular noises — beeps on the microwave or thuds from doors closing — rattled him so, he’d scurry away to find the darkest corner in which to hide. He ate very little and any change in his routine would trigger colitis — bright red bloody stools with occasional diarrhea. During acupressure and massage sessions he’d either go completely limp — as if he’d left his body — or move away completely. When he stayed and was fully present, sessions lasted only 10 minutes before he decided he’d had enough.

As the weeks progressed, the more clear it became that Dezi was both in emotional shock and deeply grieving. After a consultation with his Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) vet, we worked in collaboration on Dezi’s “outer channel.”

The Bladder meridian begins at the corner of the eye and runs over the head, down along the spine, and down each hind limb. The meridian runs 1.5 cun off the dorsal midline, but when it reaches the scapula, it separates into an “Inner Channel” and an “Outer Channel.” While the Inner Channel is used more frequently for organ system sessions and assessment, the Outer Channel addresses emotional well-being.

In TCM, each paired organ system is associated with an emotion. For instance, Liver and Gallbladder are associated with anger while Heart and Small Intestine are associated with Joy. Grief is associated with the Lung and Large and Intestine meridians and while Dezi wasn’t experiencing any “lung” issues per se, he was clearly experiencing Large Intestine problems.

To start, the vet recommended monthly acupuncture sessions where she’d focus on balancing his emotional stability and his intestinal concerns. She’d needle BL 13 and Bl 42 as well as Bl 21, Bl22, Bl 25, Bl 40, and St 36. In between sessions, I worked two points at the most every three days, initially focusing my canine acupressure work on Bl 42 and then assessing his progress and adjusting my point selection as he moved through his grief.

After acupuncture sessions, Dezi would come home and sleep for a good two hours. When he woke, though, he was alert, engaged, and ready for action. His energy increased and his mood was clearly happier and more at peace for about three days. This is when I’d step in and work BL 42 bilaterally. I thought I’d see Dezi bounce back regaining the benefits of his initial acupuncture treatment, but this was not the case. In fact, for about 24-36 hours, Dezi seemed even more grief-stricken, which included an unwillingness to eat and, once again, a tendency toward loose stools.

I consulted the vet again and she said to keep focused on Bl 42, that Dezi’s response was, she believed, a sign that he was pushing through the grief. “It has to go somewhere,” she said, “and we’re more likely to see increased manifestations of grief while his body works through the loss and the unsettling time with his previous family.”

canine acupressure

And so I kept working Bl 42 and slowly, as the weeks progressed, Dezi’s moods leveled and his bowel movements became more regular and firm. Soon, I moved away from Bl 42 and focused on what was needed based on the assessment of the Association Points.

Dezi still gets monthly acupuncture from the vet and weekly acupressure from me. While he knows when he’s had enough, our sessions have doubled in length and he’s more willing to let me work temperamental points like those on the paws or his belly. He’s clearly happier too. He walks with his head up and wiggles hello when we come home from work. Meal times are no longer a struggle and though he still has an occasional bout of stress colitis (brought on by dramatic changes to his routine), they are more easily managed. While I know there are moments when he still grieves the loss of his previous guardian, I also know he now feels like a loved member of our family.

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Equine Acupressure – Retained Placenta

By:  Tallgrass Animal Acupressure

The birth of a foal is an amazing event. If all goes well, the mare proceeds through three stages of labor relatively quickly. Stage one generally involves overall restlessness as the mare paces the stall, paws, lies down, gets back up, and often begins to sweat. In stage two there are strong contractions, “breaking of the water” occurs, and the mare may lie down to deliver the foal, often in a just a few minutes.

Once the foal is safely delivered there is still more to be done. In Stage three of labor the placental membranes are expelled and it is highly important that placental membranes are expelled completely.

Placental expulsion occurs as the mare continues with strong, labor-like uterine contractions. Generally, placental expulsion takes place within one to three hours after birth, but on occasion some or all of the placenta is retained. The only way to know for sure if the entire placenta has been expelled is to examine it closely after expulsion. If tears have occurred and pieces seem to be missing, there is a likelihood that some of it remains within the uterus.

Clearly, this medical situation is part of your holistic veterinarian’s mare and foal care protocol. The determination of retained placenta should be made by your veterinarian.

When a foal of mine was born several years ago our veterinarian determined that our mare, Mariah, likely had some level of retained placenta. About 3 hours after birth, I worked the equine acupressure points shown in the following chart with success!

Retained Pl

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Canine Acupressure: How to Work with a Difficult Dog

Canine Acupressure: How to Work with a Difficult Dog

By Gretchen Dietz

The first words out of Bob’s mouth aren’t nice ones. If he had thought bubbles, they’d be censored. An 8-year-old Chihuahua, scurries across the living room paddling his crippled and unusable left front leg while tossing his small head back in a fit of angry commentary. It’s been this way since I met Bob… almost two years ago!

Bob was rescued as a puppy and while his legs weren’t nearly as deformed as they are now (particularly the left front), his body has always been slightly contorted and in much need of body work. The only problem has been that no one could get near Bob. He’d snap. He’d charge. He’d bite. And yes, he barked –  incessantly and loudly.

Working with difficult dogs is a bit like solving a puzzle. Every dog is different and every difficult dog is particularly different when it comes to touch. Understanding body language helps a great deal as does a heavy dose of patience.  With Bob, I didn’t attempt to touch him at first. Instead, his owner placed him in his bed and placed the bed on my lap. I sat with him, my hands by my side, and never gave direct eye contact. I yawned occasionally, asked permission to touch him, and just waited for a sign that he was ready.

The first touch was to his lower back, partly because that was the area doing all the work given his crippled front body, but also to protect myself from being bitten. I didn’t really know what to expect, but to my surprise, Bob pushed into my hand and remained there.

ImageOf course, the next session he growled and snapped at me when I reached for his back so again I waited, I yawned, I asked permission, and soon he shimmied up sideways and leaned his belly into mine. To my surprise, I spent the session working his Conception Vessel and once again, he fell asleep.

Session after session the same routine played out. He’d bark, I’d wait, and then he’d choose the area of concern and I’d figure out what points were close by that might need attention.

Once, for instance, his guardian reported Bob had bouts sneezing and gooey nasal discharge. During the session, Bob pressed his lower neck and upper thoracic spine allowing me to work Bl 13, the Association point for Lung. The moment I touched those bilateral points, he laid his head down on the edge of the bed and fell into a deep sleep allowing me to reach my forefingers around his shoulders to reach Lu 1 – the Alarm point for Lung, which benefits the regulation of the Lungs and Upper Heater and promotes of the descending of Lung chi.

I have learned a great deal working with Bob, but chief among my lessons is that animals get to decide the direction of the image001session. I am not in charge. I have also learned that many animals have a “relaxation point” or a point, when worked, sends them into a calmer state. As much as I’d love for it to always be the same point for every animal I work with, it’s not. For Bob, the combination of Bl 13 and Bl 18 stops the barking and agitation, but he’ll have nothing to do with GV 20, a traditional calming point and forget about even considering Yin Tang on the bridge of his nose.

When I’ve finished my session with Bob, I place my hands on the area he allows and thank him. He seems appreciative though the second I set him down on the floor his commentary begins again loudly and persistently. I’ve come to realize this is just Bob’s way of thanking me with a few choice words of canine profanity. Or maybe he knows how much he’s helped me build my skills when working with difficult dogs.


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Horses, Equine Acupressure, & Seasonal Change

By Amy Snow & Nancy Zidonis, Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute

Seasonal changes can bring up health issues because the horse’s body might not be ready to shift from summer to late summer or late summer to autumn. The nights are progressively getting cold by late summer, yet the days are still quite warm. Just weeks later the days begin to be chilly and the nights even colder.
Horses need to be resilient to adapt to these temperature changes. Their immune systems need to be strong. To have a strong immune system, their internal organs must function properly so there’s a harmonious and balanced flow of vital substances such as chi (life-promoting energy), blood, and body fluids nourishing all the body tissues.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), when the immune system is not strong the body can be invaded by pathogens such as wind, cold, heat, and dryness. A weak immune system can lead to illness. This is why both horses and humans often fall prey to illness more readily when seasons are shifting.
It’s healthy for horses to be exposed to the elements. Horses with strong immune systems have no trouble adapting to cold and wet – think of all the wild horses that survive and thrive under any conditions! Allowing your horse to experience the elements actually increases his ability to adapt to seasonal changes, it makes him stronger.
You can support your horse’s ability to cope with the environmental elements by offering him the Seasonal Change Equine Acupressure Session given below. Older horse might need this session every third or fourth day during the change of season. Younger horses would benefit by a weekly acupressure session as the nights and days chill down.


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Caring for Tendons & Ligaments with Animal Acupressure

By:  Amy Snow and Nancy Zidonis, Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute

Horses, dogs, and cats need exercise as much and maybe even more than we do. The living body is designed to move so that bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments stay strong and healthy. Internal organs need movement to function properly. To keep your animals happily on the move it’s wise to pay attention to their tendons and ligaments.

Tendons and ligaments need to be flexible because they are the “rubber bands” which hold the body together. Without these rubber bands the body would be immobile. Each of these soft body tissues performs an absolutely essential and distinct role:

Ligaments are the strong bands, cords or sheets that connect to bones or other anatomical
structures. Ligaments:
• Support joints and hold bones in place
• Support and strengthen other ligaments, and,
• Bind tendons close to joints.

Tendons are cord-like bands that connect muscle to bone. Tendons are involved in
movement: when a muscle contracts, or shortens, the tendon pulls on the bone causing the structure to move.

Your job is to help your animals to keep moving and enjoying their lives. When your horse or dog is fit, he’s less likely to experience injury or illness. And, to keep him fit, his tendons and ligaments need to be both supple and strong. There are a number of ways you can support his general fitness.

Go slowly and    warm- up his muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments before heavy exercise. Training on uneven terrain and going up and down hills to develop well rounded and balanced muscling. A weekly acupressure session focusing on flexibility and building strength of tendons and ligaments can greatly enhance your animal’s fitness.

Below are two Acu-Care for Tendons & Ligaments charts identifying acupressure points you can stimulate to consistently support your animal. The canine chart can be used for both dogs and cats. Give you horses, dogs, and cats the benefit of this acupressure session every 5 to 7 days and you will be to enjoy your exercise together.

Sr Canine Comfart Care

Tendons & Ligs (2)

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How To Write an Animal Acupressure Case Study

Kim Bauer, Tallgrass Animal Acupressure

Whether your acupressure sessions are on your own animals or on other people’s animals, it is important to keep session notes (case studies) on each session. Session notes are where you summarize your findings during the Four Examinations, describe which acupoints you selected for the Point Work, explain any responses or reactions from the animal and then make recommendations for future sessions.

The format may vary depending on your audience. If it is a case study to submit to Tallgrass as part of your coursework then all the information you are taught in the hands on classes should be summarized on a form or in a word document so it is clear to see what you did and why. If your audience is the client or the referring veterinarian you may choose to write things using different terminology, but you still want to convey your findings in a concise manner, making sure to not write anything that could be construed as diagnosing. Ultimately the case study needs to be useful for you and should become a part of the client file for each animal you work on.

Pictures can also speak volumes about progress made with an animal so you may want to consider taking a picture the first time you work on an animal and then again on subsequent visits. Here is an example of a client of mine.

This picture was taken on August 19, 2013. Note the large protrusion between this horse's eyes.

This picture was taken on August 19, 2012. Note the large protrusion between this horse’s eyes.


Tallgrass Animal acupressure

This photograph was taken October 23, 2012. The protrusion has almost fully resolved.

















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Moxibustion & Acupressure Strengthen Immune System & Relieve Allergies

By: Nancy Zidonis & Amy Snow, Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective allergies occur when our immune system is not functioning at its optimal level. If Wei (protective) chi is strong we will not be affected by allergies, the flu, common cold, or other similar issues. In essence, Wei chi battles against the external pathogenic factors of Wind, Cold, Summer Heat, Damp, Dryness and Heat to keep us healthy and strong.

Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the burning of mugwort, a small, spongy herb, to facilitate healing. The aromatic mugwort leaves are dried and repeatedly sifted until they are fluffy. Often the moxa is then rolled into a cigar-shaped cylinder, or stick, and wrapped in paper.moxa and animal acupressure

There are two heating techniques used to apply moxibustion: indirect moxa and direct moxa. We’ll be working with indirect moxa which makes use of the “moxa wool”. The cigar-shaped moxa stick is lit and held about 2 – 5 inches away from the chosen acupoint by the practitioner. Indirect moxa can be used on acupoints to achieve a systemic effect or it can be used directly at the site of an issue.

Moxibustion has been used for centuries to improve the flow of chi throughout the body, promote Yang energy, and benefit Damp and Cold conditions. An ancient acupressure point combination has us using St 36 (Leg 3 Miles), and GV 14 (Big Vertebra) to do just that. Applying indirect moxibustion at these two acupressure points once per day for ten – fifteen minutes at each acupoint is an excellent way to strengthen the immune system and help prevent allergies.

tallgrass animal acupressure and moxibustion

St 36 has the energetics of strengthening the entire body, toning the muscles, aiding in digestion and relieving fatigue. Stimulating this powerful acupoint with the yang energy of Moxa maximizes the energetics of this point. Moxa St 36 bilaterally.

GV 14 is known as the Sea of Yang and applying moxa at this acupoint is a great way to support the body’s Yang energy and again, build the immune system and prevent allergies. It can also dramatically increase white blood cell production.

The charts below show the location of these acupoints on the horse and dog.

canine acupressure tallgrass & moxaequine acupressure, tallgrass & moxa

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Feline Acupressure – Helps with Grooming Sessions

Amy Snow and Nancy Zidonis, Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute

Older cats and/or those with joint issues may find it increasingly difficult to groom themselves thoroughly. Matted hair can lead to skin infections and discomfort. In cases like this, for the cat’s health and comfort, human intervention is needed and feline acupressure can help.

Given their natural inclination to groom themselves, however, a lot of cats don’t take too kindly to having us ship out brushes, combs and soft cloths and going after them to clean them up. It may take a while to desensitize your cat to the use of grooming tools, but there’s no reason to rush.

  1. Start by going gently down his back with a wide-toothed comb. Repeat this simple way of connecting with him as often as he seems open to it.
  2. Reinforce this desensitization combing technique with acupressure. It can help your cat become comfortable with grooming more quickly.

Acupoints for Trust

Specific acupressure points on your cat’s body are known to enhance trust and create a sense of well being. Specifically, two acupoints on the foreleg just above the wrist (carpus) help reduce fear by calming the mind and building trust.

  • Heart 7 (Ht 7) is located in the little indented space on the lateral aspect of the cat’s paw above the wrist, between the tendon and carpal bones.feline acupressure, tallgrass animal acupressure
  • Pericardium 7 (Pe 7) is found on the medial side of the cat’s foreleg, exactly opposite Ht 7. You will feel the tendons on the inside of the foreleg above the carpus when holding Pe 7.

To perform the session, simultaneously hold Ht 7 and Pe 7 between the soft tips of your thumb and forefinger, on each side of the cat’s foreleg. Use light pressure and hold the points for a slow count of 20, then do the same of the other front leg.

With some patience on your part, this simple acupressure session will help your cat accept your grooming assistance, and even come to enjoy it.



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Small Animal Food Therapy & Animal Acupressure

Kathy Stryeski, DVM in collaboration with Nancy Zidonis of Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute have created an online Small Animal Food Therapy course from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective. This course covers everything from TCM theories and their application for the health of dogs and cats to recipes such as “Old Dog Cookies” and “Tendon Soup” for specific health conditions. The course goes on to describe types of foods for arthritis, cancer, allergies, and aging issues.

It’s a tremendous resource – in-depth explanations, 4 videos, charts, acupressure point combinations for specific conditions, and much more!

Below is an excerpt from this new Small Animal Food Therapy Tallgrass course for you to get a taste of it. To learn more and to register for the course Click Here

Lesson 1
Introduction to Small Animal Chinese Food Therapy

There are five divisions of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) including:Louis...merry Christmas
• Acupuncture
• Herbal Medicine
• Massage (Tui-na)
• Qi Gong
• Food Therapy

The philosophy of Chinese Food Therapy is that food contains energetic properties which aid in restoring and maintaining the balance between the Yin and Yang properties of the body. Certain foods generate Yin (slowing and cooling down the metabolism),while others produce Yang (increasing activity and heat in the body). This course teaches the basics of food therapy, how to assess the current needs of your animal, and provides an understanding of the characteristics of food and its proper use.

Let’s begin with a brief overview of the historical context of food therapy. The Chinese started agricultural farming over 4000 years ago and began to study and understand the effects plants and foods had on the human and animal body. By trial and error, the Chinese identified groups of foods and herbs with similar energetic characteristics. They found that certain foods and herbs could help a person heal and others could cause toxicity. This knowledge was passed down through the village elders and healers.

Chinese Food Therapy began in the Zhou Dynasty (1100–700 BC). In this era, four groups of healers were responsible for providing medical care. They included healers for nutritional matters (dietitians), healers for internal diseases, healers for external issues and injuries (surgeons), and healers for sick animals (veterinarians).
The food therapist or dietician had the responsibility of keeping their village population healthy. He based his therapy upon the individual medical history, environmental conditions, the age of the person, and their medical tendencies. Healers commonly used herbs and offered dietary recommendations. The healer was paid according to the health of the community – when his patients remained healthy he was paid a higher wage and if the population was sickly he received a lower wage.

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Canine Acupressure and the Interrelationships of Traditional Chinese Medicine

by Gretchen Dietz, Tallgrass Canine Blogger

IMG_7153 In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), all things are interrelated. Yin and Yang cannot exist without the other; Chi and Blood are both necessary for any animal to survive; and every organ system needs all the other organ systems in order for the body to be healthy and vital. When performing a canine acupressure session, often clients don’t see the interrelationships and instead recognize symptoms as distinct and isolated.

So it was with Fiona.

A 5-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Fiona aspirated resulting in pneumonia that lasted months. After several rounds of antibiotics, Fiona was finally feeling a bit better, but her guardian was still concerned Fiona’s pneumonia wasn’t completely gone. Though her veterinarian assured her that Fiona’s lungs were clear, Fiona’s lack of energy, occasional cough, swollen limbs, and weak bark worried her guardian.

fionagargoyleInitial conversations with new clients often focus on a specific issue in isolation. In this instance, Fiona’s guardian believed her symptoms pointed to problems with her lungs. Fiona’s condition though, was more complex than just weak and damaged lungs. After a thorough assessment it was clear there was a revolving imbalance of Fiona’s Lung and Spleen Chi with each influencing the other.

The interrelationship between the Spleen and the Lung organ system is important to an animal’s well-being. The Spleen extracts Food Chi and sends it up to the Lungs where it combines to form Zong Chi (Gathering Chi). The function of Zong Chi is to nourish the Heart and Lungs and is the basis for the involuntary functions of heartbeat and respiration. Zong Chi also assists the Lungs in controlling Chi and respiration and the Heart’s function of governing the Blood.

The Spleen relies on the descending function of the Lungs to assist in the transformation and transportation of food and body fluids to the four limbs. If Spleen Chi is weak, Lung Chi is affected and consequently, if Lung Chi is weak, the descending function is impaired and the Spleen cannot transform and transport the nutrients. The result is an animal who is short of breath, weak, tired, and who retains fluids. In a word: Fiona.

Due to the chronic nature of Fiona’s condition (it had gone on for more than a year), the session principle for Fiona was to not address the Lungs separate from the Spleen, but to tonify both to stop the cyclical pattern of IMG_7167dysfunction. She received acupressure sessions 1-2 times per week for five weeks using a combination of 4-6 of the following acupoints during each session.

To Tonify Lung Chi:                To Tonify Spleen Chi:
Lu 7                                              Bl 20
Lu 9                                              Bl 21
CV 6                                             Sp 6
Bl 13                                             CV 12
St 36                                            St 36

After four sessions, Fiona was showing signs of improvement. She had increased energy, the swelling in her limbs was dramatically reduced, and her breath was less labored. After five weeks, Fiona was back to walking her normal routine of two-3 mile walks a day, playing with her pals at doggie daycare two days a week, and eating every meal without any gastrointestinal upsets. Now Fiona receives maintenance acupressure sessions once every four weeks.

While the human clients often see the symptoms in isolation, it’s important to remember that in TCM everything is connected. Understanding those interrelationships helps guide the practitioner to choose the most effective points for each session and in turn, helps the animal regain and maintain health and balance.


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