Chiropractic care for dogs

By Jennifer Tilman
Mobile grooming business owner, former veterinary technician

Author of Grooming Tales from A to Z

What is holistic care?  Holistic care is any form of medical care which uses organic means to rebalance both physical and mental states. Its goal is to provide alternative approaches to both prevent and cure common ailments and diseases without the use of drug therapy and unnecessary surgery. Some examples of this include dietary augmentation with supplements made from herbal ingredients, Thai Chi, yoga, and other eastern medicinal practices.  Chiropractic care also falls into this category.

Though still difficult to find, chiropractic care for pets has become more common over recent years and has proven to be an effective form of treatment for ailments stemming from misaligned vertebral columns and other joints throughout the body.  In a nutshell, the manipulation of the bones and joints affects the nervous system. The nervous system controls many systems and organs throughout the body. A well functioning nervous system results in better function and performance of these systems and organs because these systems are all interrelated.  A misalignment of the bones in the neck, for example, can result in lower back pain, weak, collapsing hind legs, and partial paralysis. Chiropractic care has improved these ailments in dogs. The alternative to this approach using western medicine would be to prescribe pain killers and anti-inflammory medications to mask the pain, but not address the ailment’s root cause directly.  One great advantage to chiropractic care is that it is a drugless and mostly painless therapy. Chiropractic care should not replace traditional veterinary care, but can provide alternatives to the limited approach traditional veterinary care sometimes offers.

Chiropractic care provides preventative medicine, and treatment for many conditions. Some benefits for pets getting chiropractic care include improved mobility for those having trouble negotiating slick floors, or have trouble getting up or down. Also neurological issues such as toe dragging and poor hind end control can be improved with chiropractic care.

Chiropractic care also works very well in conjunction with other approaches including acupuncture, physical therapy, and traditional medicine. Statistics show that nearly every animal gains some benefit from adjustments.  Sometimes it is dramatic and their problem is solved. Other times it is just a reduction in pain level. It is rare, however, that pets don’t show at least some improvement.

Chiropractic care does fall into a specialty category, but it can be very cost effective.  Resolving misalignments can quickly improve ailments like lameness before a great deal of money is spent on medications, x-rays, and numerous vet visits.  If chiropractic care does not improve the issue from which an animal is suffering, then additional testing can be performed to pinpoint the cause of the discomfort.
Because chiropractic care is considered a specialty, a DVM without chiropractic training is not qualified to perform chiropractic care. All certified animal chiropractors are required to be DVM’s first.  Someone without DVM status performing chiropractic care is a good person to stay away from.  An untrained hand performing manipulations on your animal can result in doing more harm than good. When seeking an animal chiropractor, always make sure that person is certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association. That evidence is proof that the individual has completed the additional 1.5 years of course work and passed the certification exam.

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