By Dr. Becker
Many pet owners don't think about animal chiropractic when their beloved dog or cat is injured, in pain, or becomes ill.
And that's really unfortunate, because often a visit to a small animal chiropractor can put your pet on the road to recovery much more quickly and safely than other alternatives.
Chiropractic adjustments can often take the place of surgery.
They can reduce or eliminate the need for veterinary drugs that carry side effects.
They can also address chronic health problems that don't get better or keep coming back.
Chiropractic Adjustments for Pets
A chiropractic adjustment or manipulation is a specific impulse directed at a joint to reduce fixation and re-establish normal movement.
Adjustments clear the way for the body to return to a state of balance without the interference of a subluxation, which is a vertebral lesion.
Adjustments are done to the joints of the spine and also the extremities.
Chiropractic can treat animals with back, neck, leg and tail pain; muscle spasms; nerve problems; traumatic injuries; difficulty chewing, TMJ or jaw problems; and stiffness from arthritis.
It can also alleviate some bowel, bladder and other internal medicine conditions.
And for healthy animals, it can maintain the integrity of the joints and spine.
Why You Might Want to Seek Chiropractic Care for Your Pet
There are certain indications for care that can often be best served by seeking chiropractic as a first step rather than a place to turn when all else has failed. These situations include:
During recovery from an injury or illness After any surgery involving anesthesia Lameness and/or difficulty standing up or lying down If your dog or kitty is getting up in years or if there is a behavior or mood change If your pet is seizing or experiencing other neurological problems When your pet has a chronic or recurring health problem that won't resolve
Examples of What Animal Chiropractic Can Do
Sam, a 12-year-old miniature Dachshund, was presented for chiropractic treatment after being diagnosed with intervertebral disc disease in the cervical area. Despite several weeks of medication with an anti-inflammatory drug and a muscle relaxer, he was still experiencing severe episodes of muscle spasm and neck pain.
At the time of his first visit, Sam had visible asymmetry in the right and left shoulders and severe rigidity in the muscles in his neck. There were several areas along his spine where normal flexibility was moderately decreased. After a course of adjustments, Sam was no longer painful and had resumed normal activity.
Cynna, a five year old Welsh Springer Spaniel, became lame on the left front leg after several hours of vigorous exercise. The lameness disappeared with rest, only to recur every time she exercised for a prolonged period. Chiropractic examination revealed the radial head malarticulation, which was corrected. Gait analysis after the adjustment was normal and the lameness has never recurred, even during prolonged periods of heavy exercise.
"Thanks so much for your help. I'm sorta conventional when it comes to health care, but Sophie was in such bad shape, I thought I'd try. I figured I'd do all the dogs wondering what you would find. Your adjustment to Sophie went as expected and the results over the next few days were good.
But unbelievable to me, is the adjustment you did to my 2 year old Rocky has helped him even more. Rocky has been such a problem with other dogs and I've been working on his aggression behaviorally. After your adjustment, I noticed a significant improvement in his behavior when around new dogs. This improvement has continued and I am amazed. He seems to feel like a new dog, much happier and not as moody. Sophie (13 year old) is also doing well and shows energy and enthusiasm even on cold wet mornings." ~ Vici Whisner, Dog Trainer
One of the very first dogs where Dr. O'Connor really saw what animal chiropractic could do, before she even began her practice, was with her own sheltie, Taffy. About the time she was finishing up her AVCA certification, her dog Taffy's arthritis had been progressively getting worse each day. Soon enough, she wasn't able to get up and down stairs and needed to be carried. Dr. O'Connor examined Taffy and adjusted her. Immediately after the adjustment, Taffy started running around in circles, her eyes brightened up, and she was acting as if she felt young again! She was also deaf since 8 years old and after her adjustment, her ears started to move again as though she could hear some sound. After that, Taffy was regularly adjusted to help her get some more movement in her back legs and to alleviate any pain. Dr. O'Connor is forever thankful for chiropractic, because of it, Taffy was able to stick around with her for some extra time, and was healthy and happy. Sadly, the day came when Taffy had to leave her in April 2010. You could see it in Taffy's eyes that she was ready and just getting tired in her old age. Dr. O'Connor knew their journey together was coming to an end and spent the day outside with Taffy in the warm spring sun and she passed away peacefully on her own later that night at 15 1/2 years old.
Finding a Licensed Practitioner
If you seek chiropractic care for your pet, it's important to find a practitioner who is licensed for small animals.
Human chiropractors can become licensed to treat pets, but only after special training, since people have an entirely different biochemical system than pets. Insure the practitioner you choose to care for your dog or cat, whether it's a veterinarian or a chiropractor, is certified to perform chiropractic on animals.