Chiropractic Care for Dogs

36A number of commonly occurring conditions, including arthritis and hip dysplasia, respond well to chiropractic care. Many lamenesses also can be treated successfully with chiropractic. Any time there is a loss of flexibility in any part of the skeleton, the remaining body components are subjected to compensatory stress as the animal shifts its balance to compensate. This is evident in the overmuscled fronts and stiff necks usually developed by dogs with longstanding clinical hip dysplasia, arthritis, and rear-end weaknesses. Chiropractic care for these animals improves their flexibility and reduces pain levels and the need for pain medication.

Chiropractic care can offer an alternative to the drugs and surgery now routinely prescribed for intervertebral disc disease (IVD). Acute disc problems are one of the few chiropractic emergencies and owners wishing this type of care are advised to seek help immediately after the problem is diagnosed. Chiropractic care for IVD is aimed at relieving pressure (by the disc) on the spinal cord, ameliorating pain, and restoring normal spinal flexibility. Depending on the severity of the occurrence, multiple visits per week may be required.

Other conditions which may respond to chiropractic care include torticollis (lateral neck deviation), radial nerve paralysis, and Wobbler syndrome.

39Wobbler syndrome cases respond if the underlying cause is a malarticulation of the cervical vertebrae. Cases due to a stenotic vertebral canal may benefit from chiropractic but it will be palliative only.

Cases of radial nerve paralysis which respond to chiropractic are those originating from malarticulations. Chronic gastrointestinal problems frequently respond to chiropractic adjustment as do some lick granulomas.

Animals who have suffered any kind of trauma invariably experience decreases in flexibility and mobility. This includes not only animals who have had a major traumatic event (e.g., been hit by a car) but also more minor events like falling on a slick surface or colliding with another dog during play. In all these instances, chiropractic care is needed to restore flexibility and minimize the occurrence of future spinal problems related to the trauma.

Chiropractic care can improve our animal companions’ health and quality of life. All dogs, regardless of their age, can benefit from periodic chiropractic checkups. Regularly scheduled chiropractic adjustments can benefit animals with hip dysplasia, arthritis, spondylosis, and other orthopedic problems by maintaining flexibility and stability and by relieving pain. Joints in the spine and limbs of animals typically become less flexible with age, leading to stiffness and discomfort. Regular chiropractic care can help these animals to become more active and omfortable.

37Puppies also benefit from periodic chiropractic care to correct the fixations and subluxations caused by rowdy play with other animals, the inevitable slips and falls which occur as they develop coordination, and improper leash behavior. Early chiropractic care to maintain proper joint mobility can lessen the likelihood that puppy mishaps will lead to flexibility problems later in life. Anecdotal evidence suggests that puppies who receive regular adjustments are less likely to be diagnosed as dysplastic when compared to littermates who received no adjustments. Dachshunds, Lhasa Apsos, Corgis, and other breeds whose long, unsupported back predisposes them to musculoskeletal problems will benefit from a program of regular chiropractic adjustments. These breeds are at increased risk for IVD; maintenance of spinal flexibility can help decrease the probability that such animals will develop acute disc problems.

Agility and obedience dogs need regular chiropractic care to restore their flexibility and to achieve and maintain peak performance. Performance activities like jumping jumps, attention heeling, and leash corrections place additional stress on the competition dog’s spine and limbs, leading to loss of spinal and limb joint mobility. Most of these dogs will be asymptomatic except for subtle signs. Many behaviors (e.g., hesitation or reluctance to jump, failure to maintain attention while heeling) that are often ascribed to unwillingness to work can be caused by chiropractic problems. Conformation dogs who consistently refuse to stand square (stack) frequently have spinal flexibility problems which cause the stack position to be uncomfortable. Gait problems like crabbing, lack of rear drive, and inadequate reach can also be symptomatic of chiropractic problems.

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, complimentary treatment procedure for many back and lameness problems.  And as with any health related problems or conditions that your horse may experience, it is important that your veterinarian be contacted initially so that he or she can assess your horse for any underlying medical condition that could be causing similar symptoms.