Animal Chiropractic Medicine

Chiropractic Medicine

Animal chiropractic adjustments trigger muscle relaxation which helps return the spine to normal pain-free function and mobility.

How Animal Chiropractic Medicine can benefit your dog:

  • Relieve pain
  • Improve patent strength, mobility, flexibility and co-ordination
  • Improve athletic ability
  • Reduce the chance of future arthritis or other degenerative conditions
  • Reduce the chance of sports injury in active, working or competing dogs
  • Reduce the chance of needing prescription medication or surgery
  • Aid in the treatment of, or completely resolve urinary incontinence issues

What is Animal Chiropractic Medicine?

Short Answer

When the muscles of the spinal column spasm, they affect how the patient moves, which triggers other muscles to spasm, affecting movement even more etc. etc. This usually results in pain, reduced strength and flexibility, and an increased risk for greater injury.

Veterinary or Animal Chiropractic Medicine works best when combined with other treatment techniques such as Veterinary Acupuncture and Veterinary Rehabilitation Therapy

Some common signs of back pain

  • Altered posture – hunched or arched back, altered head or tail carriage
  • Irritability, flinching, twitching skin or cowering when the back is touched
  • Difficulty getting up or lying down, or trouble going up/down stairs
  • Hesitancy or inability to jump up or down
  • Difficult to diagnose, subtle or shifting lameness
  • Lameness that affects a body region instead of just one limb
  • Decreased fitness level or athletic ability
  • Scuffing nails, tripping or other signs of reduced strength or co-ordination
  • Leaking urine

Long Answer

What are animal chiropractors treating?

The vertebral column is a flexible structure which contains over 200 joint surfaces that allow it to flex, extend, and rotate in all directions.

Between each vertebrae is an opening (the intervertebral foramen or IVF) through which segmental nerves emerge, connecting the spinal cord to various regions of the body. The IVF and vertebrae are surrounded by paraspinal muscles that both stabilize the vertebral column, and provide the brain with information about body position (proprioception). It is not uncommon for these muscles to spasm.

Once these muscles spasm, several things can happen:
  • Vertebral kinetics are altered – the vertebrae can no longer move normally. Once one section of the vertebral column isn’t moving normally, then another section must change its mechanics to compensate, which exposes it to overexertion and muscle spasm, forcing yet another section to change its mechanics and so on, and so on…
  • The vertebral facet joints provide 80% of the vertebral column’s movement.  Once vertebrae become immobilized, the facet joints quickly become arthritic.
  • Chronic altered mobility can lead to overdevelopment of some muscles, and atrophy of others.  Such imbalances predispose to further injury.

What is an animal chiropractic “adjustment” and how does it work?

Although the brain makes most decisions, some decisions are made at a spinal cord level – called spinal reflexes. An easy example is when you touch a hot object, you pull your hand away before you even fully realize how hot the object is. That’s because the thermal receptors in you finger triggered a reflex in the spinal cord to retract your arm. As an afterthought, the spinal cord sent a memo to the brain just to keep it in the loop, but the brain played no roll in the decision making process. Spinal reflexes allow the body to react quickly in order to avoid injury.

Another example is when you misstep and roll over on your ankle. Ever notice how your whole leg buckles? That’s because sudden lengthening of muscles triggers a spinal reflex that causes neighbouring muscles to relax. It is a protection mechanism to prevent muscle tearing.  This is the reflex that veterinary chiropractors trigger when they make an adjustment; they isolate the affected vertebra in the affected direction and make a small rapid movement. This movement lengthens affected muscles and triggers them to relax, thus allowing the vertebra to return to normal mobility.

Animal Chiropractic Medicine works best when combined with other treatment techniques

Of course if the underlying cause isn’t addressed, there is a greater chance of the problem recurring. This is why veterinary chiropractic medicine works best when combined with other treatment techniques such as Acupuncture  and Rehabilitation Therapy.

Is animal chiropractic medicine safe?

When performed by someone with appropriate training, someone who fully understands the anatomy and neurophysiology of what they are treating, animal chiropractic medicine is a very safe modality. Complication rates from animal chiropractic medicine are far, far lower than those reported from anti-inflammatory medication, surgery or other more invasive techniques.

Unfortunately, animal chiropractic medicine is poorly regulated in Canada, which allows poorly trained individuals the opportunity to claim undeserved expertise.  This issue is particularly prevalent in the horse world.  It is in the hands of such people that the risk of complications is greatest.  Make sure to only hire properly trained professionals!

The most stringent education guidelines are those developed by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association.  At this time, there is no equivalent Canadian organization.  After completing over two hundred hours of post-doctoral study, Dr. Lane graduated from the Canadian Animal Chiropractic Certification Program, which is one of the few programs globally and the only one in Canada that meets the AVCA standards.

AVCA recognized programs are post doctoral certifications, available only to those who have already earned a degree in either veterinary or chiropractic medicine.