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Knowledge Base: Pet Chiropractor

Chiropractic for pets such as dogs is becoming much more popular. More and more veterinarians are now recommending chiropractic care to treat injuries, restore mobility and relieve pain in animals, particularly in aging pets, working dogs, or those involved in intense obedience and agility training.

Conditions with a neurologic or biomechanical origin are amenable to chiropractic manipulation by a pet chiropractor. These conditions include degenerative joint diseases such as hip dysplasia and spondylosis; cervical instability; acute neck pain; intervertebral disk disease; autonomic nervous system problems such as urinary and fecal incontinence; musculoskeletal weakness or pain that resists conventional diagnosis and treatment; and chronic back and neck pain.

More and more veterinarians are now recommending chiropractic care to treat injuries, restore mobility and relieve pain in animals, particularly in aging pets, working dogs, or those involved in intense obedience and agility training. But the benefits of chiropractic care don’t end there; this form of manipulation therapy is also becoming increasingly popular in treating a surprising number of other health problems, from separation anxiety to incontinence.

Dogs often benefit from alternative therapies like massage, homeopathy, calming flower essences like the popular Rescue Remedy drops, acupuncture, and chiropractic. All of these treatments fall under the umbrella of complementary and alternative medicine.

How much does it cost? The initial visit is usually around $130. For a dog or cat under one year of age, the initial visit fee is usually reduced to around $55 to $60. Follow up appointments are around $55 to $70.

Chiropractors who work on animals must have specific training in both chiropractic theories and animal anatomy so that they are knowledgeable about the differences in biomechanics and neuromusculoskeletal function between humans and animals. In North America, a certification process is in place to ensure that practitioners possess the appropriate knowledge and skill to treat animals. The organization responsible for this certification is the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association, with the specific designation of its members depending on their level of training, as follows: “Animal Chiropractor” is a Doctor of Chiropractic with AVCA certification; “Veterinarian Certified in Animal Chiropractic” is a DVM / VMD certified by AVCA; and “Veterinary Chiropractor” is both a Doctor of Chiropractic and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.

When medical professionals want to add chiropractic for dogs to their resumé, they must either have a veterinarian degree (DVM) or a human chiropractor degree (DC). To become a certified dog chiropractor, they must undergo training in the subset of animal chiropractic. The specifics for training and certification vary state by state,

Most chiropractors will say that they can perform chiropractic adjustments on pets. It is common practice for, chiropractors to work on animals under the direct supervision of a veterinarian if the veterinarian feels that such treatment is warranted. However, in doing so, the chiropractor is working as an unlicensed veterinary technician. Most chiropractors who specialize in pet chiropractic handle treatments at their office or in the field on the ranch or farm.

Chiropractic care for dogs involves undergoing spinal manipulation or manual therapy to move misplaced vertebrae in the spine (also known as vertebral subluxations) back into their normal position to release pressure on the surrounding nerve tissue. This, in turn, relieves pain and enables the body to naturally heal itself.
Chiropractic is most commonly administered as an additional treatment option for animals suffering from spinal problems or biomechanical-related musculoskeletal disorders. Injuries and disorders like these can cause your pet’s health to deteriorate quickly, and can severely affect movement, posture, and flexibility, and even impact other muscles and joints in the body.

Pet chiropractors study at a program approved by the Animal Chiropractic Certification Commission (ACCC). With this training, pet chiropractors can help mitigate a variety of issues in dogs, cats, and horses. They handle musculoskeletal ailments, like a limp that won’t go away, and intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) in animals’ backs. Dog chiropractors might also treat hip dysplasia, osteoarthritis, and stiffness, and help with surgery recovery.

The most common way both human and animal chiropractors treat subluxations (misalignment of the vertebrae) and other problems are through chiropractic adjustment, which involves low force manual manipulation of the spinal column, joints or other affected areas. These adjustments help improve mobility and function and alleviate physical stress, strain, and pain by removing the source of the symptom and letting the body heal itself.

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