Animal Movement

Animal chiropractic care is a holistic approach to movement and health problems.

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Who You Gonna Call?

I am frequently asked about “when do you know if chiropractic is indicated in my pet’s situation?” Asking your veterinarian first is, of course, indicated and I find that unless that veterinarian is versed in chiropractic and/or has been a patient of chiropractic offices, they often are still learning which conditions are responsive to chiropractic. I am still learning some of these myself and I have been a chiropractor for over 25 years.

Chiropractic care is very successful with mechanical problems. By that I mean, sprains, strains, disc problems, shoulder and elbow problems, non pathological limping or lameness, neck problems. In other words, we are specialists in analyzing joints and there movement and have techniques to help normalize these areas through balancing the musculoskeletal and nervous system associated with those areas. Chiropractic dovetails very nicely with physical therapy, stretching, accupunture, Tellington Touch, and other neuromuscular therapies. Used in conjunction they are synergistic.

Watching your animal walk and perhaps run as well (called gait analysis) is important. After that, evaluating the joint movement in the areas in question for abnormal motion, pain, restrictions, heat, noises etc. You as a pet owner are extremely helpful when we talk about your pet and what is going on. As with people, the history of the condition is so very important. So look at your dog, cat, horse, llama, donkey etc. and draw a visual line down the center and observe the animal walking away from you, then toward you, then observe from both sides. Does your pet move the same on both sides of the visual line? Is there head bobbing, tail swishing, shoulder dropping? These are some of the things to look for.

Often, the conditions that your veterinarian uses anti-inflammatories and pain meds for might also be helped with chiropractic care.

So, the next time you are out with your pet and you notice some asymmetries of movement, limping etc. give it a day or two and if it is still present call for an evaluation.

Underwater Treadmills

Underwater treadmills are becoming much more common in veterinary offices around the country.  I was fortunate enough to work with a veterinarian 5 years ago that included this great therapy in her office along with acupunture and chiropractic care for her canine patients.

These treadmills are designed with rehab in mind.  The dog is supported with a life jacket (when needed) and the water is raised until the dogs feet are easily moving through the movement of the treadmill.    More water can be used with joints that need less compression – post surgical knees, symptomatic discs etc.  Speed can be monitored.

These tools are great for rehabilitation of dogs that have had disc symptoms (weakness of hind or front ends, knuckling, sensory changes in extremities, pain in low back etc.) and have been used very extensively with ACL surgeries to get the dog back to peak performance faster.

In the veterinary clinic I am affiliated with here in Asheville, NC we have a veterinarian that is certified in rehabilitation and we devise programs for the patients appropriate for the goals of the owner and patient.  Chiropractic is often included in the program as well as flexibility and toning. The treadmill is also used simply as an exercise machine when some owners are unable to get their dog the necessary exercise to maintain health.  Agility dogs are assisted with recovery of minor injuries as well as specific exercises for keeping muscle tone.

It is becoming very clear that motion into fixated or surgically repaired joints is essential in the recovery of that joint system.  Joints rely on muscles, ligaments, and soft tissue to function properly.  The nervous system monitors this through the peripheral nerves.   The combination of treadmills, other rehab tools like swiss balls, peanuts, weave cones, wobble boards, chiropractic care, flexibility/stretching are all available to assist your canine companion.

Find a veterinarian in your area today that utilizes treadmills, chiropractic, rehab and ask if those therapies might be helpful to your pet.  There are many vets and physical therapists pursuing rehabilitation credentials.  Also find a certified animal chiropractor – either a licensed veterinarian or chiropractor. The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association’s website is and to find a certified doctor follow the link or go to

To view a dog on underwater treadmill check this out:

Animal Movement, Animal Chiropractic

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.

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