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What Animal Chiropractors Do and How to Find One

What Animal Chiropractors Do and How to Find One

Working dogs and horses, senior pets and dogs involved in intense obedience or agility activities can benefit tremendously from the practice. But what exactly does chiropractic care for canines and equines involve, and does it compare in effectiveness with an arthritis supplement or an anti-inflammatory for animals?

Chiropractic Care for Dogs

Animal chiropractors specialize in treating the neurological and musculoskeletal systems of vertebrate animals, by performing adjustments to their spine and other joints that relieve pain, restore balance, and improve performance.

Dog chiropractors can help treat a number of conditions, including:

  • Chronic musculoskeletal problems
  • Acute tension or stiffness
  • Separation anxiety
  • Incontinence
  • Muscle spasms and nerve problems
  • Diagnosed pathologies such as hip dysplasia and CCL rupture
  • Skin problems such as lick granulomas 

Chiropractic care can also be used to enhance performance, prevent illness and maintain fitness, as well as treat animals suffering from arthritis, injuries or lameness.

Some things animal chiropractors do include consulting with the pet parent to get the full medical history. This might also require them to review x-rays or get the animal’s former healthcare records from your regular veterinarian.

Next, he or she will do a complete assessment by observing your pet, both at rest and in motion. This enables the practitioner to identify any physical adjustments needed, and the sources of pain or discomfort.

Just as with human chiropractic care, there are multiple different treatment methods that each has a specific name and addresses a particular part of the body. Light-touch methods are typically suitable for animals who are hypersensitive or suffering from chronic conditions. Some dog chiropractors use the activator, which is a hand-held, mechanical device with a spring-loaded plunger, while others prefer to manipulate animals with their hands. Many believe this enables them to feel what is happening in the area they are working on.

After treatment, the chiropractor will advise you on therapeutic exercises that can help keep your dog or horse in good shape. 

Why Your Dog Might Benefit from Chiropractic Care

Dogs of all ages can benefit from chiropractic care. In young dogs, it’s always useful to get a baseline assessment first to determine whether your pet has any physical issues that could affect it as it matures.

Here are some reasons why younger animals could need chiropractic attention:

  • Vertebral subluxations, or misalignment of the spine. Signs of this include “puppy sitting” when the dog sits with its legs out to the side. Lick granulomas on the legs or paws, uneven muscle tone, sensitivity to touch or grooming, signs of lameness, and general mobility problems are all potential indicators of a spinal problem.
  • Recovery from undergoing anesthesia or sedation for surgery, dental cleaning, or other procedures
  • Athletic animal checkup to ensure optimum performance and be less prone to injury
  • Back pain, including suspicion of disc herniation

For older pets, a chiropractic adjustment can help bring them back into balance and provide the canine or equine pain relief from arthritis, general weakness, lack of coordination and organ dysfunction, which are all common in senior animals. Combined with Dr. Garber’s Canine Hip & Joint bioformula or Equine Bone & Joint bioformula, this protocol can make a world of difference to your animal’s wellness and longevity.

Finding the Right Chiropractor for Your Dog’s Care

When you’re looking for a dog chiropractor, the best place to start is by asking your veterinarian for a referral. If they aren’t qualified themselves, they may be able to refer you to someone they trust who has had good results with pets they referred to them.  

Most states permit two types of practitioners to operate in this field:

  1. Veterinarians who have received “adequate training” in chiropractic studies, and
  2. Chiropractors who have received “adequate training” in animal anatomy and physiology.

In all instances, practitioners should be certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) or the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association (IVCA), which means they should have completed an association-approved course and passed both written and practical certification exams. Both the AVCA and IVCA accept only doctors of veterinary medicine (DVMs) and doctors of chiropractic (DCs) to this program.

There are several weekend and short courses available to both veterinarians and chiropractors, as well as other people, but it’s generally accepted that only a practitioner certified in animal chiropractic by either the AVCA or IVCA is fully qualified to do this work. The AVCA website has a state-by-state list of certified animal chiropractors in America.

Keeping Your Dog Calm During Chiropractic Care

Most dogs have an internal warning system that tells them when they’re about to see a veterinarian or—in some cases—a groomer. As with the veterinarian, visiting a dog chiropractor might make your dog anxious, and for a dog who is already in pain from a subluxation or arthritis, the last thing you want is an acrobatic performance to try and escape.

If you can arrange a home visit, that is the ideal scenario, but if that’s not possible then keep your pet as calm as possible. When necessary, you can administer a product like MaxWell Pet Calm & Happy, which have been scientifically tested and clinically proven to calm dogs showing nervousness, hyperactivity, discontentment, or those responding to environmental stress.

Email Dr. Garber DC, AVCA for information on his animal chiropractic practice in New Mexico.

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