chiropractic treatments for pets

Chiropractic Treatments For Pets | cat at chiropractor getting an adjustment
Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Dec 10 2012

Today we're discussing chiropractic care for pets, which is based on spinal manipulation and has been performed on humans for centuries. Much like homeopathy, herbal medicines, and acupuncture, veterinary chiropractic care offers veterinarians and pet parents another avenue of treatment to deal with health problems that affect our furry family members.

What injuries does chiropractic treatment help?

Injury to the vertebral column and associated muscles, tendons, and ligaments can occur any time, in any animal. Specific trauma, such as what a dog or cat might encounter in a car accident or a fall, can certainly cause the alignment of the spine to be off, but so can landing wrong after an awkward jump. Chiropractic work aims to realign the spine using massage-like manipulation.

Spinal adjustments can correct pain in the back or neck, but the theory of chiropractic adjustments goes a little deeper. It focuses on the dysfunction of the spine and its effect on the entire nervous system throughout the body.

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More specifically, chiropractors believe that dysfunction of the spine causes impairment of organs that rely on innervation from specific spinal vertebrae, with each section of the spine corresponding to different organs. The theory is that impaired energy (“chi” or “qi”) from a subluxated vertebrae will cause blockage and weakness in the associated organs and their functions.

Many conditions can be addressed by chiropractic work, including:

  • Pain in the neck, back or tail
  • Trouble chewing or jaw pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Bowel or bladder disorders
  • Chronic illnesses

How effective is chiropractic treatment?

Some animals will respond immediately following their first adjustment, while others may need multiple sessions. Carrying pet insurance that covers both chronic conditions as well as alternative therapy such as chiropractic care can help make the cost of caring for your pet more manageable.

As with the other holistic modalities we have discussed, veterinary chiropractic is not meant to replace traditional veterinary care. It is important that your regular veterinarian examines your pet before seeking a veterinary chiropractor.

Are there any precautions?

Though rare, chiropractic work can cause serious injury, even if performed by a trained chiropractor, so it is important to be sure the practitioner is a veterinarian who has had special training above their general veterinary training. Furthermore, animal chiropractic is controversial, with no published studies of its efficacy.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that suggests it can be effective, however, so if you feel like checking into it, consult with your regular veterinarian first. If he or she agrees, perhaps they could recommend a specialist in your town. If not, visit the website of the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association ( to search for a veterinary chiropractor in your state.

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