Dr. Erin O’Connor, ACAN Graduate, Carnivore Nutriton Coach, AVCA Animal Chiropractor
People have known the benefits of chiropractic for years, over 100 actually! It has been known to help everything from headaches, back pain, neck pain, sports performance, and more. Most have also found out that it can improve energy, sleep, alleviate stress, and enhance overall health as well. However, it isn’t just people that can benefit… pets can too!
The only way to know for sure if you pet’s spine is healthy is to consult with a certified AVCA (American Veterinary Chiropractic Association) or IVCA (International Veterinary Chiropractic Association) animal chiropractor. Adjusting an animal is very different than adjusting a human due to differences in anatomy. Entrust the health of your animal only to a professional. By dealing with a Certified Animal Chiropractor, you are assured of the services of a skilled, dedicated professional who will work to provide the very best care.
However, there are a few things you can check at home for an indication of spinal health. For example, if you hold a treat in front of your pet and then move it to their shoulder, can they turn nose-to-shoulder without twisting or backing up? Other indicators of spinal health issues include the inability to be able to shake off, abnormal posture or gait, side sitting, stagnant areas warm or cold when feeling along the spine, or sore and/or stiff areas. Is your pet aggravated or afraid when you touch a certain spot or even jump? These signs be an indication that a chiropractic problem is present in that area. n
Many different activities can cause the need for a chiropractic adjustment, such as pulling on a leash, sudden stops in the car, a slip or fall, being a normal active (and sometimes fearless) pet, and more. Some other examples, such as poor diet, medications, boarding, and being under anesthesia can also cause stress on a pet’s body, leading to issues of their spine.
A chiropractic adjustment is a very specific, controlled thrust to adjust a vertebral joint or extremity joint that is subluxated. A subluxation describes a joint that has lost normal movement and positioning. An animal chiropractor uses their hands to find these restricted areas of movement. The specific adjustment restores normal range of motion and allows the free flowing communication of the nervous system by removing the interference of the nerves. When the nerves of your pet can efficiently communicate from the brain to body and body back to the brain, they begin to heal. That is the neat part about chiropractic, in that it allows the normal functioning of the nervous system (which controls every organ, tissue, and cell in the body), therefore it allows the natural healing processes of the pet to occur. It merely takes the “road blocks” down, if you will.
Most pets are pretty tolerant of chiropractic adjustments, and once they are aware of what happens they feel better and are excited for more. Some will even begin to lean into the adjustment, helping the doctor. Many pets show appreciation with happy greetings, cuddles, wags, and kisses. After the adjustment, a pet usually is relaxed, and the owners often report that their pet naps afterward. However, some pets are the exact opposite and would like to run and play due to their body feeling good.
Some conditions or symptoms that may benefit from chiropractic are changes in gait such as limping, showing signs of pain, problems executing desired movements, decrease in activity levels or performance ability, seizures, tremors, arthritis, nerve problems, paresis, paralysis, muscle imbalances, abnormal posture, abnormal shaking of the head, chronic ear infections, allergies, stress, behavior changes with age, and more. Many times pet owners turn to chiropractic for the above conditions after all other treatment methods have failed. Keep in mind, chiropractic is very safe and may be able to help before resorting to more invasive treatments or procedures.
Most people don’t think of bringing their healthy pet to the animal chiropractor. However, this is the best time to start chiropractic. If the spine is left unchecked, degenerative changes can occur over time due to abnormal movement of the joints and impaired nervous system function. Being proactive in your pet’s health can help prevent problems from occurring in the first place. It is much easier to maintain health than restore it.
A common question asked about animal chiropractic is, “what animals are able to receive chiropractic adjustments?” The answer is very simple, any animal with a spine! All animal chiropractors must be proficient in adjusting both small and large animals to become certified, and many see both. However, some will choose to focus on either small or large in practice. The most frequently adjusted animals are dogs, cats, and horses. Still, it is not uncommon to also provide care for exotic pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, parrots, ferrets, and reptiles; farm animals such as goats, pigs, chickens, and cows; and even wildlife if there is a wildlife facility or rehabber nearby.
Animal Chiropractic is a gentle, yet highly effective treatment modality that allows the animal to utilize their very own healing capabilities. Chiropractic care is beneficial for a variety of conditions, and to help maintain health. Remember when seeking chiropractic care for your pet, to only entrust their care to a professional, being an AVCA or IVCA certified animal chiropractor. Whether it’s an injured animal, performance animal or a family companion, chiropractic can be a simple way to make a positive difference in their health and wellbeing.