What Is Chiropractic Care For Dogs?
Chiropractic care is
a holistic approach to many of the health and performance problems of
the dog. Chiropractic does not replace traditional veterinary medicine
and surgery, but provides an alternative method of care. Chiropractic
adjustments have proven to be invaluable in detecting and treating gait
abnormalities and other performance-robbing problems. It has also been
shown to alleviate pain in the back and neck of the dog.
How Do I Know If My Dog Needs Chiropractic Care?
There are numerous, common stressful or
traumatic situations, such as the birth process, that can cause abnormal
or restricted movement to occur in the spine. This change in proper
movement of the spine is what chiropractors call a “subluxation.” When a
subluxation occurs, the dog’s spine loses its normal flexibility. This
results in stiffness, which further leads to resistance and decreased
performance. The most common symptoms associated with spinal
subluxations are pain, which can manifest itself in a variety of ways.
Dogs in pain will show compensatory changes in posture and gait. These
changes can cause stress in other joints and muscles.
Symptoms such as stiffness, poor mental
attitude, gait abnormalities, or the presence of muscle atrophy
(wasting) are commonly associated with spinal misalignments.
Subluxations may also cause changes in
muscle coordination and flexibility that affect the performance ability
of the dog. These symptoms may be lack of coordination in gaits, unusual
and perhaps indefinable gait abnormalities which vary from limb to limb
and change depending on gait, stiffness in lateral movements of neck or
back, rope walking (in-line steps), shortened stride in one or two
limbs, inability to engage rear quarters, or difficulty flexing at the
Common complaints from dog owners include
resistance or stiffness when moving to one direction, irritability,
decreased performance, and sensitivity to touch, such as when being
How Does a
Chiropractor Adjust My Dog?
Once the initial examination has been
completed, the animal chiropractor will perform an adjustment on the
area of the spine affected so as to return the joints to normal motion
and to alleviate any muscle spasms and pain. A chiropractic adjustment
is a very specific high-velocity, low-force, controlled thrust by a
hand, which is directed, in a specific direction on a specific joint.
How Many Treatments Will My Dog Need?
Several factors determine the number and
frequency of adjustments required to correct a problem. The dog’s age
and physical condition are important: young healthy dogs will generally
require fewer adjustments than older dogs or those with serious health
problems. The severity of the problem is another major factor: if
permanent damage has occurred, a return to full flexibility may not be
possible and multiple adjustments may be necessary to achieve the most
flexibility possible. The length of time the problem has been present is
also a factor: longstanding, or chronic, problems frequently require
more adjustments to correct than do acute problems.
Chiropractic can also offer valuable
assistance to veterinarians dealing with lameness. The goal here is to
find the primary source of pain, rather than treating what might be the
Chiropractic provides expertise in the
evaluation of back and joint problems that can provide the veterinarian
additional means of diagnosis and early treatment options in certain
lameness problems, especially conservative treatment of biomechanically
related musculoskeletal disorders.
It should be stressed that chiropractic,
in no way, should be thought of as a replacement for conventional
veterinary medicine, but rather as a valid, concurrent treatment
procedure for many back and lameness problems. And, as with any
health-related problems or conditions that your dog may experience, it
is important that the veterinarian be contacted initially so that he or
she can assess your dog for any underlying medical condition that could
be causing similar symptoms.
Why Is It
Important To Choose a Certified Animal Chiropractor?
The demand for chiropractic as an
alternative modality in the treatment of joint related problems in
animals has sky-rocketed throughout the world in recent years. This
demand for chiropractors and veterinarians trained in diagnosing and
treating animals utilizing chiropractic methods resulted in the
establishment in 1989 of the American Veterinary Chiropractic
Association (AVCA) by Sharon Willoughby DVM, DC. Also established in
1989 was Options For Animals, the educational division of the AVCA.
The purpose of the Options program is to
train, and ultimately certify, licensed chiropractors and veterinarians
in the art and science of animal chiropractic based on sound,
fundamental chiropractic philosophy, structural biomechanics, spinal and
extra spinal anatomy, and to provide hands-on experience, utilizing
horses and dogs, in developing sound adjusting techniques. These
treatment techniques are designed to provide the most benefit to the
animal with the least amount of associated discomfort.
The AVCA is the only organization
offering such an extensive professional program, and by utilizing an
AVCA-certified practitioner you are assured of his or her knowledge and