An Explanation of Chiropractic

The placing of hands on the spine and paraspinal tissues and the adjustment or manipulation of these tissues is one of the oldest and most widely used healing arts

What is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic is defined as, “That science and art which uses the inherent recuperative powers of the body and deals with the relationship between the nervous system and the spinal column,including its immediate articulations, and the role of his relationship in the restoration and maintenance of health” Animal chiropractors thus base their treatments on the health and proper functioning of the vertebral column or spine. Proper function of the spine encompasses normal function of the nervous system as well as normal function of the locomotion systems of the animal.Healthy animals that enjoy freedom of movement require a healthy,fully functional spinal column

Chiropractic emphasizes the belief that the body can and will heal itself.The philosophy of chiropractic holds that a Universal intelligence created and is maintaining everything in the universe.Dr Virgil Stang explains..”the doctor of chiropractic demonstrates respect for the innate recuperative powers of the patient’s body instead of overwhelming it with a barrage of treatments and traumas…

The Spine

The spine of all animals consists of a series of small bones that connect into a column.The number of vertebra vary among species and among individuals.

Nervous System

Chiropractos are interested in the vertebrae because they have an intimate relationship with the nervous system. The hollow center of the vertebrae houses the spinal cord.The spinal cords the main transmission line for information to be passed to and from the cells

Movement of the Spine

Chiropractors are also interested in the movement of the spinal column.The joints of the spine allow for a great deal of movement in the back and neck.If one or more of these joints become “fixed” the potential range of movement of the animal is decreased.When many joints are affected the animal becomes very stiff and experiences difficulty with activities such as jumping,climbing stairs,standing up

What is a Subluxation?

A Subluxation is a disrelationship of vertebrae in association with other vertebrae resulting in a disturbance of normal function. A subluxation may also cause interference with the function of the nervous system by causing pressure on nerves.These subluxations are corrected by skilled procedures called adjustments.

What is an Adjusment?

A Chiropractic adjusment ia specific short-lever, high velocity, controlled thrust by hand or instrument which is directed at specific joints of the spine. Adjusments are design to realign vertebra or to restore movement between vertebrae.

How do animals get subluxations?

He spine becomes subluxated due to trauma,toxins,and stress.Trauma is the easiest to understand.Trauma maybe caused by many things such jumping from a height,birth trauma from forceful extraction,falling on ice or being stroke by a car. Stress such as moving, changing owners,or other changes in life style can cause subluxations. Toxins such as drugs and chemical poisoning are also known to cause subluxations

Symptoms of subluxations

How does an owner know when an animal requires the services of a chiropractor?.Subluxations may produce pain or restrictions in movement, as well as many other problems.This is a partial list of the signs and symptoms of subluxations.



Back/Neck pain

Pain when picked up

Poor tail carriage



Difficulty performing activities,such as climbing stairs jumping

Behavioral changes

 Antisocial behavior, depression,inactivity

Problem Oriented Chiropractic Care

Clients usually present animals for chiropractic care for specific problems. These problems range from minor problems such as sporadic lameness to major problems such as paralysis. The response to chiropractic care depends on many factors including the duration of the problem,the kind of the problem,the amount of tissue damage, the age of the animal, and the breed. Chiropractic works best in the early stages of most health problems before irreversible damage occurs in tissues and organs.

Some of the problems commonly present for chiropractic are listed below:

Conformation problems:tail set, roach back

Lick sores from numbness in peripheral sensory nerves

Geriatric problems such as stiffness, depression, and pain

Wobblers (CVI): Often improves coordination:best response to chiropractic is in early stage,chiropractic is not a cure but a therapy for maintenance of these animals.

Intervetrebal disc diseases: must be used by skilled animal chiropractor,animals should be under concurrent care by a regular veterinarian; the prognosis depends on severity and amount of damages to nerves.

Hip Dysplasia: Helps the biomechanical function of hips; may reduce further development of joint laxity,may reduce pain in some animals not a cure but a therapy

Incontinence: useful in cases that do not response to hormone therapy; due to sacral subluxation with decreased sphincter control

Spondylosis: Adjusments won’t eliminate spinal arthritis;purpose of the adjustments  is not to break up lesions; adjustments will help maintain existing function and delay progression of disease

Frequency of Adjustments 

The frequency of chiropractic adjustments depends on many factors. Most chronic cases are seen weekly, biweekly, or monthly intervals depending on the clinical problem and the response

Preventative Health Care

Often animal chiropractors are only asked to evaluate a patient for a specific problem.However, all animals require routine chiropractic care in a holistic approach to health care.The benefits of the chiropractic adjustment on homeostasis,proprioception,and the immune system are far reaching.A chiropractic examination with appropriate adjustments should be as routine. Adjustments are scheduled according to the animal’s age,daily work, and health problems

What should clients expect during a chiropractic adjustment for their animal?

Clients who have never experienced chiropractic care for their own bodies often believe that an adjustment may be painful to the animal.The adjustment is usually painless,however,animals may have paint the site of a subluxation from sore joints or sore muscles.Most animals tolerate the chiropractic treatment very well and,indeed,seem to cooperate as well as appreciate the therapy. After a history of the animal is reviewed with the owner, the spine is carefully palpated for pain,muscle tenderness,vertebral position,and relative movement of the spine. Neurological and posture alterations are noted. Most animals are adjusted while in the standing or sitting posture.The vertebrae are contacted with the fingers or thumb.A rapid thrust is made along the proper angles of the joints.Animals many have one or more subluxation in the spinal column.Some maybe minor and other may be more significant.Some animal chiropractors also assess the biomechanical function of other joints such as the jaw and those of the extremities

What should a client expect after the adjustment?

On the first day after an adjustment , the animal is frequently sleepy and relaxed. The owner should not expect to see much difference at first.On the day following the adjustment, a few animals are uncomfortable  or even worse than before.This is entirely normal and is caused by changes in the muscles and ligaments as the animal adapts to the new position of the vertebra.This is specially true of geriatric of geriatric animals that have had  long standing spinal problems.Most animals will improve 24-72 hours. The changes in the animals are generally  most noticeable after the first adjustment. Subsequent adjustments  may show less dramatic changes. in many cases improvement will accumulate  with continuing chiropractic care.In some animals several adjustments  will be needed before optimum improvement is maintained.In many cases, an up-and down symptomatic picture is normal in the beginning.The owner should notice differences in health problems, gait behavior and attitude.The owner is in the best position to determine the changes in the animal since they are familiar with the normal performance of and behavior of the animal

Contraindication of Animal Chiropractic

Animal Chiropractic requires skilled execution for proper results.This is similar to all procedures such as surgery. There are precautions with the proper use of any healing art.Acute cases must be evaluated carefully.The need for concurrent care must not be overlooked.Some chiropractic practitioners will reevaluate an acute case the same day or on the following day. Most chiropractic approaches are generally conservative at first to asses  the response of the animal.Adjusting too frequently may be counterproductive or ‘too much of a good thing” after an adjustment, the body requires time to reach homeostasis in such areas as tissue repair and proprioceptive changes.

American Veterinary Chiropractic Association

The American Veterinary Chiropractic association (AVCA) was form in 1989 to provide training in chiropractic care for the animal patient and to promote the application of chiropractic in animal health care.The AVCA provides a certification for veterinarians and chiropractors consisting of 150 hours of postgraduate education. The AVCA encourages the inter-professional interaction of chiropractors and veterinarians for the betterment of animal health.