Animal Chiropractic is a holistic approach to movement and health problems.
It does not replace veterinary care. It does complement it. It dramatically improves musculoskeletal problems.
I am often asked this question from many pet owners who have visited chiropractors for themselves and some who have not. The initial chiropractic evaluation for your animal is similar to the evaluation for you.
Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork…everyone dislikes filling it out and the value is it give a basic background of your pets spinal, musculoskeletal, and joint health, general activity level, past injuries, surgeries, trauma, living situation, recent stressful changes, general veterinary history, etc. Even though we ask those questions on the first day, it might trigger a memory in another way, so thanks for filling everything out.
As in any chiropractic evaluation, we are interested in movement or lack thereof, pain patterns, gait (walking, running) abnormalities, as well as general health. Working closely with veterinarians provides their histories and treatments in the past and general information on your pet. Past treatments, veterinary and others, and the effectiveness helps a lot to give a more complete picture.
So on day 1, after we go over the specifics of “why are you here, what is going on with your pet, how (from whom) were you referred, and the general information on the animals (the paperwork stuff we talked about) we take a hike – actually a walk and trot and circles. I will watch your pet walk away, walk toward, circle left and right (tight circles), uphill walking if available, and trotting if possible. Then comes the hands on portion of evaluating tenderness, tightness, muscle tone, etc. I always talk to the animal and let them know what to expect (not doing your temperature today, you can relax)…and spend a little time getting to feel the energy of your pet and give them a chance to feel my energy and touch. I move the joints through ranges of motion noticing any restrictions, pain, muscle spasms or tenderness etc. Chiropractic analysis finding misalignments and fixations (again, hands on gentle bouncing, pushing, pulling etc.) neurological evaluation, checking balance, sensation, alertness etc. etc. It is very interactive, and I spend a lot of time talking while I am evaluating to put the animal at ease and educate the owner too.
Depending on the situation, we might want x-rays or certainly look at any x-rays available.
Then we talk about what I think is going on and what chiropractic adjustments can do to help – and what to expect if this is the first experience of chiropractic.
Then comes the real fun for me – the adjustment(s). Adjustment, manipulation, mobilization, realignments…lots of terms are used…and we are trying to get motion back closer to normal and balance…get the dog or cat or horse back into alignment and balance. Muscle strength and tone is important so everyone goes home with work to do – either extensive rehab work depending on the history (post surgery, disc problems, knee, wrist repetitive injuries, etc.), simple stretches or strengthening exercises or activities that can also be lots of fun for you and your pet.
Follow up visits are scheduled and questions answered if not already covered. If a referral to another animal specialist is required that is discussed and coordinated with the veterinarian(s) involved.
This is by no means a complete explanation of what happens on day 1. Contact your certified animal chiropractor (D.C. or DVM) and set up an appointment today to have your pet evaluated. From athletes to our older animals, chiropractic care is useful and helpful for all.
As my friend Dr. Jackie says, as she sees her dog patients go to the Westminster show or the national agility competitions… “on her (his) way to the show and in alignment”.
To find a certified animal chiropractor in your area visit www.avcadoctors.com or ask your local veterinarian or chiropractor who is certified in your area. I am happy to answer emails as well.
When the owner of Sally called, she was very worried. Sally is a 7 year old Flat coated retriever who suddenly seemed to not be able to walk. Her veterinarian felt that Sally had injured her low back, probably a disk injury. She was given medications for pain and inflammation and told that it might be useful to have a consultation with an orthopedic veterinarian if the medications did not do the trick.
After 3 weeks, Sally ended up seeing me for animal chiropractic care.
Sally is a sweet dog with a smile. Even while walking with a profound limp, dragging one paw a bit, and having significant trouble getting up after lying down, she would, of course, wag her tail and couldn’t wait for attention. We evaluated Sally and felt she had surely injured a disk in her low back.
Disk injuries are extremely common in dogs, as in people. As we age, the disc tends to dehydrate somewhat and the torques of life and running with sharp turns (you know, fetching and agility dogs racing around the courses) can stress the joints enough to cause micro traumas to the disc so that over time, it protrudes into the weak areas. Often there is a small amount of arthritis in the joints around the disk involved and suddenly one day the wrong movement is just too much.
Chiropractic care was extremely helpful. One thing to keep in mind, we are not forcing a joint, or vertebra, back into alignment per se, rather helping to normalize motion as much as possible to allow the healing capability of the tissues and begin the rehabilitation process. Sally was adjusted weekly for 2 weeks and the owners were given stretches and some therapies to use at home. As the inflammation subsided due to less stress on the areas involved, the pain lessened and Spirit was able to do more and more and now you would never know there was a problem. Sally visits Dr. John on a regular basis just for maintenance. Still has that smile too.
The traditional approach using prescription meds is often very effective in pain and inflammation control. It does not address the neuro-musculoskeletal component of the problem. I find the combination of acupuncture and chiropractic to work so well together for these types of problems and love to work with veterinarians who are skilled with acupuncture and other so called alternative therapies.
And that’s where I come into the picture! As a veterinarian who provides alternative treatments for dogs and cats, I know we are fortunate in the Asheville area to have some great alternative choices for our pets’ healthcare. Chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, herbal medicine, physical therapy, and overall holistic wellness consultations are all available and provided by trained and licensed professionals. Like Dr. Faherty, I also see patients with disk disease who experience symptoms from minor pain to paralysis. Intervertebral disk disease is very common in small breed dogs with long backs, most notably dachshunds. That is where my tale begins (no pun intended).
Jackson was a black and tan dachshund with a reputation. Well before his back problems, he was a “take no prisoners” kind of patient. I always heard him before I saw him. When he entered the clinic, he gave a warning bark and a show of teeth to anyone who dared entered his personal space. On this particular visit, however, he wasn’t barking. He had just returned from the emergency clinic with a grave prognosis.
I entered the room and found Jackson unable to use his hind legs. His mom told me through tears that the emergency vet had diagnosed Jackson with a slipped disk, and that he needed a very expensive surgery to correct his condition. Without the surgery, she needed to consider putting Jackson to sleep. While I agreed with the doctor’s diagnosis, I suggested we try acupuncture, strict rest, and pain medication. Surgery was out of the question for this family, so she agreed to let me try.
After two rounds of acupuncture and a night of cage rest, I found Jackson standing up in his cage. Not only was he able to walk, but I was his friend for life. His mom’s decision to bring him to me quickly played a big part in his recovery. He came in regularly for his “spa treatments,” and when he was ill with a bellyache, I was the only one he allowed to get close enough to give him his necessary treatments. He lived for years after his initial back problem, and most of his life was pain free.
As someone who practiced traditional veterinary medicine for almost twenty years, I have a great appreciation for the doctors, medicines, and diagnostic capabilities that are available. However, sometimes when we think we are at the end of the rope, we can make that rope a little longer with alternative treatments like acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments. That’s why John and I love what we do.
Dr. Beth Jones and Dr. John Faherty provide acupuncture and chiropractic services at Animal Acupuncture and Pain Relief Clinic at Sunvet Wellness at 251 Haywood St. in Downtown Asheville. Dr. Beth can be reached at 828-450-0851, and Dr. John can be reached at 828-712-8017.
Years ago when I injured my knee, (ACL and medial meniscus), surgery was not a good option. So I endured the pain of arthritis settling in, discomfort whenever I walked, and limitations on doing many things I loved doing. Then along came PEMF! (Pulsed Electro Magnetic Force)
I borrowed a PEMF machine, and after using it daily for two weeks, my knee pain was dramatically reduced. I could exercise enough to rehab my knee without surgery. Since then, I have used this excellent therapy on many people, and, through my affiliation with several veterinary offices, am now using it with animals – mostly dogs, some horses, and some cats.
PEMF is a small electric current targeting a specific area (i.e. spine, knee, neck, elbow) which induces biochemical changes that promote healing. It reduces inflammation, increases wound healing, and controls pain (including degenerative arthritis, etc.). It would be used in conditions that your veterinarian would use anti-inflammatory and pain meds. Easy to use, it is painless, and can be done at home with portable units. PEMF is non-invasive, non-pharmacological, and has no adverse effects. Visit assisianimalhealth.com for information on their targeted PEMF device. Their research is solid.
PEMF is used on top canine athletes to lessen their post-competition pain levels; on older animals that have difficulty getting up, climbing stairs, etc.; on post-surgical healing of ACL injuries; on rehab of operations and orthopedic injuries; on and on. Any time you might use anti-inflammatory or pain meds, consider asking your veterinarian about PEMF.
One day, Remy, a sweet, older Golden Retriever was brought to see me. He was having difficulty getting up after lying for a bit, wasn’t using stairs, and wasn’t getting into the car. He seemed a bit depressed, which was understandable, because he was limited in running and he is, after all, a Golden Retriever. Daily Cosequin and occasional Rimadyl were helping, but his quality of life was definitely suffering.
In addition to chiropractic treatment for Remy, I also recommended that the owners use PEMF at home. They did, and there was wonderful improvement! He now moves with greater ease, and has a dramatically improved quality of life. He still has some old dog problems, but Remy also has greatly increased movement and decreased pain. And his humans are joyful to see him doing so well.
Ask your veterinarian if PEMF could help your dog or cat.
Dr. John Faherty has been providing chiropractic care to humans since 1985, and animals since 1996. He is dedicated to helping individuals and their animals enjoy an improved quality of life as they age and recover from life’s injuries. He served for many years on the Board of Directors of the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA). He is affiliated with a growing number of veterinary offices in Asheville, Swannanoa, and Dillsboro. Dr. John can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-712-8017.
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Dr. Faherty, offers animal chiropractic care in the Asheville, NC region. He is available to help animals in need and can be contacted at 828-712-8017.