Saturday, April 8, 2017

Acupressure, Herbs and Nutrition for Spring: A Holistic Approach To Your Dog´s Health in the Season of Rebirth

Here, as promised in my previous blog update, is an article I co-authored with my friend Erica Friebel, in which we would like to give you some ideas how you can support your dog´s health and address her or his needs during the season of Spring, with the help of acupressure, nourishing herbs and foods.

First, let´s take a look at spring time and your dog´s needs from the view of Traditonal Chinese Medicine. 

Erica is an experienced canine massage therapist and small animal acupressure practitioner and she has some great information and acupressure tips for you.

Spring - the time for gaining new energy and nourishing your own and your dog's immune system

Spring in Chinese Medicine is the time for birth. After the winter the reserves are empty and all life needs new energy to start a new phase in the circle of life. 

The sun gets warmer and the days get longer. Snow and ice slowly disappear and the earth starts  waking up all organisms and bring new life to the surface.

Some classifications in Chinese Medicine:
Spring  is connected to the element of Wood.
Wood's color is Green.
Wood's  environmental factor is Wind
Wood's organ systems are the Liver and the Gallbladder

In Chinese medicine everything is related to things or happenings in Nature.

Some explanation:

You can imagine Spring being the time of "birth" where new branches of Wood are formed and the fresh Green colored grass and leaves. In China, but I have noticed even here in Sweden, during Spring the weather can be very Windy. "Wind" in Chinese Medicine is seen as one of the most invasive external pathogens.

Philosophically speaking Wind breaks and blows away old leaves and old or weak branches. When the immune system is low Wind can invade the body and cause illness. 

Especially the Liver is vulnerable for the invasion of "Wind". 
There are much more classifications connected to Wood and thus the season Spring, but I just wanted to give you a little insight in how Nature, all Things and Beings in this Universe are connected to each other and influenced by each other. 

Dogs know what is good for them! A common view on our HuskyGård, dogs meditating and embracing the warmth and energy of the sun. Here a lovely photo of our Katja,  meditating before a dog sledding tour during Spring. (photo courtesy: K.Paulus)

Tired, low energy level? 
During Spring many people experience being tired, having low energy levels or have a feeling of not being completely healthy. On the other hand there is the feeling and urge wanting to start new projects and embrace new ideas. 

This is the same for our dogs, especially older dogs or dogs with a low immune system can feel a little low and can easily get sick during Spring. 

Spring is about renewing, a new start in the circle of life and thus also about some extra nourishing of the immune system and the organ systems Liver and Gallbladder.

Here some acupressure points benefiting the immune system for your dog. But you even can use those points on yourself. 

ST 36, a point that has so many benefits that many practitioners will include it in almost every session. Besides it is the Master point for the gastro intestinal tract it is a very powerful immune raising point. 
This point can be found on the lateral (outside) side of the hind leg in the crest of the tibia bone, a little on the side below the knee joint/patella. 

Important! This point is contraindicated for pregnant females, so do NOT use on a pregnant dog or person. 

LI 4, a point that stimulates the immune system but also is used for pain in the mouth, shoulder and front limp. You can find this point easily as it is located on the medial side of the second metacarpal bone, just between the dew claw and the second metacarpal bone. 
Important! This point is contraindicated for pregnant females, so do NOT use on a pregnant dog or person.

BL 17, is a point that is used in any condition that involves “blood”, for example high blood pressure, low hemoglobin, anemia. This point is a very powerful point for stimulating the immune system. You can find this point on the caudal border of the spinous process of the 7th thoracic vertebrae, a little to the side away from the mid line (about 1,5 cun)

GB 34, The influential point for the Tendons and Ligaments. This point benefits the Liver and Gallbladder organ system. This point can be found on the lateral (outside) side of the hind leg. Cranial (more to the front/head) and distal (below/away from) the head of the fibula bone. 

Herbal Allies and Nutrition to Support Our Dogs during Spring Time

Herbs for Spring Time

Mother Nature has the best plan for nurturing and nourishing all her children. And as a part of that, she offers several wonderful herbs during spring time that we can work with to address all the needs that this season brings upon us.

As Erica has mentioned, in spring our bodies (animals and humans) are tired after the winter time, and in need of recharging. 
One of the best ways to “recharge” our bodies and energy levels, and boost our immune systems is via nutrition and nutrient dense herbs. 

It is also important to support the organs such as liver and gallbladder, and nature makes sure that the right herbs for that are full of energy and ready to help exactly this time of the year.

But there is also one more aspect to consider, and that is the fact, that spring time brings warmer temperatures, which favor bacterial growth. It is very common to catch the spring flu, and when it comes to dogs, kennel cough is very typical during this time. 

Also many flowers and trees start blooming, causing allergic reactions or worsened eczema for those suffering “hey fever” and allergies caused by compromised immune system. 
Therefore supporting the lungs with herbs is very beneficial at this time as well.

So let´s take a look at the spring herbal allies that can help our dogs greatly with all of the above.

If I could choose only one herb to give to my dogs (and myself) during spring time, it would be, without a blink of an eye, dandelion.

Dandelions are some of the first plants that wake up after the winter and their green leaves are filled with new boost of life force during spring time.
They are packed with the entire B-complex, vitamin A, C, K and D, iron, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, other trace elements and proteins. 

Not only are dandelion leaves nutritionally dense, they support greatly the digestive tract, including gallbladder´s production of bile, via their bitter properties, and are a wonderful aid also to the liver and kidneys.

Nettles, just like dandelions, are the messengers of spring. Their young leaves and soft stems are super delicious and I have even witnessed dogs munching on them with great interest.

Nettles are considered the most nutritionally rich herb, perfect as a daily food supplement. They offer proteins, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, D and the full B-complex.

Nettles boost energy levels and support the kidneys, blood and even help with relief from seasonal allergies.

Milk Thistle
While milk thistle´s vegetation time starts later, and its seeds that carry the health benefits are not ready until mid to late summer, it is an herb you should definitely consider providing your dog during the spring time.

Grind the seeds in coffee grinder or food processor and add 1 tea spoon per 10kg of body weight to your dog or cat´s food daily, for a truly remarkable support of liver. 
Milk thistle is recognized even in the allopathic veterinary medicine for its valuable benefits and ability to repair damaged liver and dealing with the diseases of this organ, such as cirrhosis.

I personally have an outstanding experience working with milk thistle while supporting my beloved dogs Nugget (who had liver cancer and we were able to prolong his life considerably) and Granite, who recovered completely from severe liver cirrhosis.

Narrowleaf Plantain and Mullein Leaf
These two herbs are ready to help your dog´s respiratory health as spring progresses.
They are definitely good herbs to work with when dealing with cough, respiratory tract inflammation and greatly support the lungs in general.

Dog Nutrition during Spring Time

At this time of the year, you can support your dog and his health with nutritionally dense foods, but easily digestible, boosting immune system, digestive tract, liver and gallbladder.

Some of my favorites that I offer to my dogs and also to my customers when suggesting feeding programs for their dogs, are:

Raw Green Tripe

feed at least 3 times a week for great support of the digestive tract and nutrient density. Green tripe provides probiotics and enzymes, vital for your dog´s health.

It is a very concentrated food, so feed it in the amount of maximum 10% of the entire feeding portion, 2 times a week is plenty enough. 

Liver supports the function of liver and provides many vitamins and energy.


Either made from goats milk or cow milk, kefir not only provides protein, but it is extremely beneficial for the health of the GI tract, providing high quality probiotics and enzymes, thus not only supporting the digestion of your dog, but also his entire immune system and energy levels.

This brown seaweed is a vitamin, antioxidant and amino acid powerhouse.
I personally cannot imagine my dogs´ nutrition without kelp as an integral daily supplement.
It helps to replenish the body after the long winter period and supports the immune system and ability to keep disease at bay.

Add these ingredients and a few fresh and clean leaves of dandelion and nettle and ground milk thistle seeds to your dog´s food every day and you have a wonderful, nourishing and nurturing meal that will address your dog´s spring needs to keep him healthy and vital.

About the Authors

Erica Friebel is a Small Animal Acupressure Practitioner and a Canine Massage Therapist. She has her massage practice at her husky kennel "HuskyGård" in Sweden and organizes workshops in TCM acupressure, massage and related topics. Erica is a board member of The Swedish Association for Dog Massage Professionals (Svenska Hundmassörers Yrkesförbund)    

Her motto is: “In touch Spirits mingle”

You can reach Erica at the following address and platforms:

Address: HuskyGård, Sätervägen 14 Höstsätern, 790 91 Idre, Sweden

Facebook:   (TCM Akupressur & Massage för Hundar)

Katerina Paleckova is an herbalist, naturopath and holistic dog nutrition consultant at Katerina´s Natural Way 
Besides individual consulting, she is also REIKI therapist and Bach Flower therapist, organizes workshops and lectures, writes articles and enjoys creating remedies from wild crafted herbs.
Her mission is to help people reconnect with nature, find 

more empathy for wildlife and wild plants and use positive reinforcement when working with animals.

Katerina also operates a large sled dog kennel and with her partner and dogs offers outdoor adventure programs on their Nordic Husky Farm in the wilderness of northern Sweden.

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