Chiropractic Care for Dogs: Don’t Knock It Until You Tried It

Chiropractic care can help treat injuries, restore mobility and relieve pain. But the benefits of chiropractic care don’t end there.

Source: Trupanion

Animal chiropractic? Really?

Well, until recently, I didn’t know much about it either.

When I first read about it, as interesting as it sounded, I would have never considered it for my dog. Anecdotal evidence issue aside, in my mind, the word chiropractic stood for painful bone-crunching torture. I’d hesitate to put myself through something like that, let alone my precious baby.

But one can always learn something new.

Eight out of 10 dogs seem to find some type of instant relief from dog chiropractic therapy.

Source: Organic Pet Digest

Chiropractic refers to manipulating the spine to keep things in their proper position. Through the spine, the nervous system connects to the entire body. For dogs, chiropractic treatment can help with:

  • chronic or acute musculoskeletal problems
  • lameness
  • compensation problems due to issues such as hip dysplasia, CCL tears
  • muscle spasms
  • neurological issues
  • incontinence

Some practitioners believe that chiropractic adjustments can also help treat other diseases involving organ systems, and logically, it does make sense.

Chiropractic Care for Dogs: Don't Knock It Until You Tried It

Our experience with chiropractic care

Animal chiropractic is a very gentle procedure!

Well, it does sometimes hurt some when the chiropractor finds the spot. But how much pain might your dog be in constantly, without you even knowing?

This part is actually useful, as it helps to identify where the problem is. (Diagnostic points in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) work much the same way.) When the sore area is found, your dog might react with a growl or “don’t do that it hurts” response.

The adjustment itself consists of applying gentle pressure until things pop back into their rightful place.

Reading about animal chiropractic is one thing. Experiencing the results is another.

Jasmine’s dramatic results

As Jasmine started going for her physical therapy, her vet included chiropractic as part of the process.

This often consists of a checkup only. But sometimes misaligned areas are found and adjusted.

Jasmine is a very social and outgoing dog and she loves attention and petting. But sometimes she would get sensitive to touch in one area or another.

We guessed that she might be painful in that area but didn’t really understand why, as there was nothing obvious to be found.

After she started seeing the physical therapist/chiropractor, things suddenly made sense. Every time she’d become sensitive to touch in a certain area, some misalignment would be found.

The most dramatic result we witnessed was when one day Jasmine suddenly started limping on her rear leg terribly. 

She wouldn’t use the leg at all! Not even laying down or getting up!

Worse than her CCL injury

It looked worse than when she tore her cruciate ligament! At that time we already knew that the knee surgery failing that long after it has healed was not likely at all.

What was going on? Another muscle or tendon injury?

We took Jasmine to her physical therapist right away. She checked her out and found a major hot spot on the spine right at a hip area. As she applied steady pressure, suddenly we could actually hear the pop!

And that was that. Still a little sore that night, Jasmine’s was walking fine the next day!

The same thing happened with her recent limp on the front left leg.

Three hot spots at the shoulder area were found and adjusted. The next day the limp was gone.

And those are just the things that are easily visible.

Because of Jasmine’s high activity level, she is perfectly able to tweak her spine here and there. I can’t even imagine what her life would be like without the benefit of the chiropractic adjustment.

Cookie and a horse fence

Cookie received her first chiropractic adjustment after an encounter with an electric horse fence. She was active and curious. On weekends, she got to spend time and friends’ horse farm.

As she wanted to go visit the horses, she miscalculated the space under the wires and happened to touch them just when the current went through. Needless to say, she wasn’t very impressed by that experience.

Further, that night, she was lame on her hind left leg.

Rest—as much as a little rocket Cooke was could be rested—wasn’t making any difference. We made an appointment with a chiropractor. Cookie’s pelvis was messed up from the encounter. After the adjustment, Cookie felt well again.

Cookie periodically sees a chiropractor and there is always something that needs tweeking.

How many dogs needlessly suffer?

It also puts many things in a different light.

I read stories of highly reactive dogs who mellowed right out after getting chiropractic help. No wonder they’d be aggressive, with so much pain.

Today I believe that getting a chiropractic check-up should be part of the diagnostic arsenal, whether your dog is visibly suffering from pain or just being more grumpy or aggressive than they should. Particularly with a sudden onset.

No harm in that. While it might not always be the case, a chiropractic adjustment just might solve your dog’s problem.

Yes, there are evidence-based practice veterinarians who frown on such hack as animal chiropractic. Ours is not one of them. He’s, in fact, the one who introduced us to Jasmine’s physical therapist.

I guess it’s just one of those things where seeing is believing. For me, anyway.

Don’t knock it until you tried it.

Related articles:
Cookie’s First Chiropractic Adjustment
Physical Therapy for Iliopsoas Injuries: Cookie’s Iliopsoas Injury Treatment—Laser, Hydrotherapy and Chiropractic

Further reading:
When to See a Dog Chiropractor and What They Can Do
Dog Chiropractic Basics

Categories: Alternative treatmentsChiropractic

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

  1. I found it interesting when you said that chiropractic check-ups can help a dog with their pain. My Goldendoodle has been whimpering whenever she stands up from sitting down. I’ll have to take her to the vet for chiropractic care to see if it’s her back.

    • Chiropractic care can help if the problem is spinal misalignment. There are other health issues that can cause pain getting up, though, such as hip dysplasia, arthritis, iliopsoas injuries, and more. Need to consider all of these.

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