Why Animal Chiropractic?

By Jennifer Miller, DVM, IVCA, Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital

Chiropractic care is a manual therapy that can be used to address many health and performance problems. Chiropractic focuses on the biomechanical dysfunction of the spine and its effect on the entire nervous system. Animal chiropractors provide additional diagnosis and treatment options, along with traditional veterinary care, to help your animal companion maintain optimal health.

Your animal’s spine is a complex structure consisting of bones, ligaments, muscles and nerves. The spine provides many functions, such as mobility, protection of nervous tissue and muscle attachments. All of the spine’s components must be working properly to perform its jobs as intended. 

When a vertebral subluxation complex (VSC) – a spinal misalignment or joint dysfunction – is present, the result is neurological or biomechanical dysfunction. A VSC will lead to decreased mobility of the spine, decreased transfer of information between the central nervous system and the rest of the body, and stiffness/pain … all of which can affect the body’s normal function and performance.

In general, you can tell if your dog or cat is subluxated if he or she is showing signs of pain (e.g., change in gait, refusing to perform certain tasks, unwillingness to jump), or if you see a change in muscle coordination/flexibility.

VSCs can be caused by many everyday activities, so every animal, whether a geriatric feline friend or a young canine athlete, can benefit from chiropractic adjustments. Among many other applications, chiropractic adjustments are used to treat decreased mobility and stiffness in older animals, enhance the performance of a sport animal, and maintain overall fitness. Chiropractic is also used as a treatment for neck, back or limb pain, and to enhance post-surgical or trauma healing.

If a VSC is identified, the animal chiropractor corrects the misalignment of the spine and restores mobility and proper transfer of information among the central nervous system, muscles, skin and organs. The adjustment is a specific, high-speed, low-force maneuver applied directly to the affected vertebra. The adjustment moves the affected joint beyond the normal physiological range of movement, without exceeding anatomical integrity, which then returns proper function to the joint. 

The frequency of chiropractic adjustments needed is best answered on an individual basis. Often animals with acute problems respond more quickly, while chronic problems usually take longer to resolve. When done correctly, chiropractic treatment can be an effective way to maintain the health and performance of your animal.

Note that only veterinarians or chiropractors who have completed additional post-graduate training in animal chiropractic and who have received accreditation by either the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association or International Academy of Veterinary Chiropractic are equipped to accurately diagnose and treat chiropractic subluxations.

To learn more about chiropractic care at Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital, contact our Integrative Medicine and Rehabilitation Center at 360.568.3112. Online: www.pilchuckvet.com