Just like human patients, pet owners have many options when seeking care for their dogs. There is traditional veterinary care, homeopathic veterinarians, and treatments like chiropractic, acupuncture, and aromatherapy treatments to help improve or alleviate symptoms being experienced by your dog. Many veterinary clinics now offer a combination of therapeutic approaches to treat the whole animal.
Chiropractic treatments in particular have become a popular way to handle muscle, joint, and alignment issues in all types of animals including dogs, cats, horses, and exotic animals found at zoos. While running and playing, it is easy for an animal to move something out of alignment leading to pain and discomfort which many go undiagnosed or remain difficult to diagnose, leading to costly vet bills and tests. Chiropractic is defined as a “short lever, high velocity controlled thrust by hand or instrument that is directed at specific articulations to correct vertebral subluxations” by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (ACVA).
Who Can Offer Examinations and Treatments?
There are now a number of national organizations that offer training in animal chiropractic. The American Association offers courses for certified human chiropractors who wish to work on animals and for veterinarians who wish to offer another type of treatment to their patients. Animal chiropractors go through extensive studies building on the knowledge they have as a veterinarian or human chiropractor. They write exams and are board certified in the same way that specialists in other field of veterinary medicine are.
Your own veterinarian may be able to direct you to a local animal chiropractor or you may need to consult a national association to find a list of practitioners in your area. Some chiropractors require a veterinary referral while others do not. Since x-rays may be necessary to rule out certain conditions and come up with a treatment plan, most chiropractors do assessments at a veterinary clinic.
How Do I Know If My Dog Needs Chiropractic Care?
Common indicators that your dog may be in need of an adjustment include pain for unknown reasons after a fall, injury, or play session that included lots of running, jumping and bumping into other objects and animals. Watch your dog standing and moving – do they seem to favor one side of the body over another or be compensating by moving weight to a different leg for support? Muscles will over time develop ways to compensate for injuries and weaknesses but by looking at the muscle definition on both sides of the body, the compensation can be identified.
Sometimes, your vet will examine your pet and run tests and still be unable to identify what is causing the pain or discomfort. In cases like this, a chiropractic assessment may be able to shed some light on the problem. Any time your pet experiences an obvious change in comfort level, you should be investigating further.
What Is Involved in an Assessment?
The chiropractor will examine your dog in static positions including standing as well as in motion at various speeds. They may physically manipulate limbs and joints to check for pain, inflammation and injury.They will take a detailed history of your dog’s health and when the problems began. It is important to give the chiropractor as much information as possible so they can make an accurate assessment and help your dog feel better.
Should they determine that your pet needs an adjustment it will be performed in a manner that is designed to cause your pet as little discomfort as possible. In cases of extreme inflammation, it may be recommended that adjustment be delayed until the inflammation has subsided a bit.
One treatment is often not enough to cure a problem but it can make a noticeable difference in how a pet is moving and acting. A series of treatments may be needed. For cases of degenerative joint disease, like arthritis, ongoing treatment may be necessary to maintain comfort levels. Chiropractic treatments can make a big difference in the quality of life experienced by older arthritic pets.
Who Can Benefit From Chiropractic Treatments?
Any animal that is made more comfortable and experiences an improvement in quality of life is benefitting from the treatment. For performance dogs that compete in various sports, an injury that seems minor can have serious consequences to competitive ability. Treatment can lead to a vast improvement in scores and times for performance dogs.
Older pets can receive relief from chiropractic treatments that allow lower doses of painkillers and other arthritis medications, reducing side effects experienced and long term risks of medication use. This is also true of any animal that has an injury at any age. By restoring mobility and reducing pain and discomfort as quickly as possible, not only are you providing more humane care for your family member but you are also allowing him to return to his normal routine sooner.
Although chiropractic care cannot cure all dogs or even help all of them, it is a great option for those it can help. After all, we want the best for our pets.