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Does My Dog Need A Chiropractor?

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

Natural and holistic medicine are on the rise and people are searching for alternative ways to cure their injuries, illnesses, increase their sports performance, and boost their immune systems. With chiropractors being among some of the top go-to holistic practitioners, many people are searching for wellness practitioners for their animals as well. Animal Chiropractic is a treatment that looks at the animal’s body as a whole and takes into consideration all aspects of the animal’s life.

There are a few health practitioners that have taken the extra steps to learn about and master animal chiropractic. Animal chiropractic can be performed by both chiropractors and veterinarians. This specialty is an old practice, but many are just now starting to experience the many benefits and life-changes it brings about in their beloved pets.

Dog rescue groups have started to use chiropractors to help nurse their dogs back to life! For example, The American Boston Terrier Rescue in Dallas swears by animal chiropractic! They are an organization that rescues senior and special needs dogs. They have had extremely severe cases such as paralyzed dogs, burned dogs, dogs born with swelling in their brain, and others born with leg deformities. For each of these dogs, they have invested in animal chiropractic and have watched these dogs thrive.

How do I know if my dog needs chiropractic?

Your pet can benefit from an adjustment whether they are showing symptoms or not. Waiting until your pet is in pain or can no longer walk as a result of health conditions is much more difficult to manage. Taking care of your pet’s joints throughout their entire life is just as important as their dental care. Just like you do not want to wait until your pet’s teeth are rotting and falling out, you do not want to wait until they can no longer get up from the floor or go on their daily walks.

Many times, when an animal is showing physical signs of distress or discomfort (such as limping) or not acting like their usual selves, a traditional veterinarian can find nothing wrong with them. They may perform a physical exam or diagnostic imaging and find everything to be “normal.” The pet’s owner knows when their pet is uncomfortable and when something is wrong. Most cases like this will benefit from the non-invasive, conservative chiropractic adjustment. Many older dogs also benefit from chiropractic care once they start developing arthritis and joint issues. Senior dogs that have trouble standing up and are slowing down on their walks can greatly benefit from this holistic treatment.

There are several signs to watch out for to determine whether your dog is in need of a chiropractor:

Several signs your dog needs Chiropractic care are:

  • Leg lameness and limping

  • Slipping and falling on floors

  • Inability to do stairs or to get in and out of a vehicle

  • Difficulty getting up from laying down

  • Difficulty walking or jumping

  • Yelping

  • Lack of interest in normal daily activities

  • Favoring one side/leg when they walk

  • Not able to eat from their food bowl or drink from their water bowl

  • Behavior changes

What is an animal chiropractic visit like?

The chiropractor will first perform a physical exam on your animal. This may include checking range of motion, a neurological exam, and gait exam. From there, they may determine whether or not your animal is a candidate for chiropractic care. If you and your chiropractor decide to proceed with the treatment, they will perform a spinal and joint manipulation either by hand, or with a device assisted instrument. If your chiropractor feels like this is a veterinarian oriented issue, they will refer you back to your veterinarian. There are also other modalities that may be used during treatments, such as a cold laser and acupressure. Cold lasers help to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and help the tissues and cells heal. Acupressure works similarly to acupuncture in that it helps stimulate certain energy channels throughout the body, however, instead of needles, treatment is manually done by hand. At the end of the treatment, your chiropractor will double check your animal’s gait and range of motion. They may give you physical therapy exercises or stretches to perform on your dog. You can expect your animal to be relaxed and sleep very deep that night!

Will An Adjustment Hurt My Dog?

An adjustment is a gentle joint manipulation done by hand or by an instrument, however, if your dog is in pain, it may feel tender and painful in certain spots. If it is painful, the adjustment is quick and the whole process does not take more than 5-10 minutes.

How Much Does Animal Chiropractic Cost?

The cost of a regular visit ranges by location, but the rate is about $45-85 for small animals, such as dogs. Large animals, such as horses, are usually double the rate of small animals. New patient visits are usually up to $30-$50 more because of the initial exam. You will also want to take into consideration the cost of a “travel fee” if your chiropractor is making a trip to your house.

How do I find an animal chiropractor in my area?

First and foremost, when searching for an animal chiropractor, make sure they are certified. Just because someone is a chiropractor or veterinarian does not mean they are licensed to perform “animal chiropractic.” Find a practitioner that has specialized in this and received a certification to work on animals. Animal anatomy is very different than people, and if not done correctly, can harm your pet.

The accredited program that I went to and refer people to is The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA). This is the association that chiropractors and veterinarians get certified through once they have completed an Animal Chiropractic program. On their website is a list of providers throughout the country. Another program that is accredited is the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association (IVCA).

The most important thing when choosing an animal chiropractor is that you feel comfortable that they can help you and your pet. You will know when your pet is in distress and not their normal selves, and it is up to you to help them.

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