Have you heard of dog chiropractors or the benefits they could provide your dog? It’s probably a good thing if you haven’t. That means that your dog is pretty healthy. Pet chiropractors are a special form of veterinarian medicine. The question is though, is there really any proof that a pet chiropractor can benefit our dogs? Let’s dig into the pros and cons of chiropractors for our dogs today. This one could surprise you. I have to admit I was a little surprised by the research.
*Updated: July 4, 2023
Budget Tip: While a pet chiropractor can be a bit pricey, if your veterinarian says your dog is a good candidate and it will bring him/her comfort, then it could be a very valuable asset. For example, if you can keep your dog from having to undergo surgery and anesthesia (and those unknowns), then it could be a priceless investment. Plus, if a visit to a dog chiropractor means you don't have to put your pup on monthly prescriptions, that's an added bonus. The bottom line is always the comfort of your dog. That is something you have to decide with your vet. But it can certainly be budget worthy and something to plan for in your pet savings account.
What is a dog chiropractor?
You probably have heard of chiropractors for humans. You may even have your own chiropractor. A dog or pet chiropractor is for animals. More specifically, a pet chiropractor is skilled at manipulating the musculoskeletal of animals to release pain, improve healing, and aid in the treatment of certain diseases. This sounds familiar if you’ve been to a chiropractor, doesn’t it?
Is there any science behind using dog chiropractors?
This is the real question. Who wants to waste money on anything if it doesn’t work, right? Currently, there aren’t many studies on veterinary chiropractic medicine. However, there is a very interesting, although small, study a few years ago involving 24 dogs with paralysis, diminished muscles, and incontinence. This study followed these dogs for an average of 5 chiropractic visits. Interestingly, all 24 dogs had a reversal of their conditions. Did I just hear you say, “WOW!”? I know I read the study a couple of times. It gave me pause or shall I say paws.
There are also many anecdotal stories about successful dog chiropractor experiences.
The takeaway: There’s amazing work being done in veterinary chiropractic medicine, which may help if your dog is a good candidate.
How do I know if my dog should see a veterinary chiropractor?
Consult with your regular veterinarian about any ailments you notice with your dog. Your veterinarian will be able to help you pinpoint causes and tell you if a dog chiropractor could help.
Some symptoms that might be addressed by pet chiropractors are:
- Abnormal gait
- Hip dysplasia
- Surgery recovery
Additionally, dog chiropractors often work on athletic dogs (such as agility dogs) and working dogs (such as military and police dogs) who may experience stiff necks or back pain from their “day jobs” with great success.
Do I need a referral to see a dog chiropractor?
Some states will require a referral from your regular veterinarian to any specialty veterinarian. While other states allow you to make an appointment directly. However, your state is set up, it’s always best to talk with your veterinarian and find out if a visit to an animal chiropractor will help your dog.
Is there anything to look for when searching for a good dog chiropractor?
Yes, there are a few things to look for in a good pet chiropractor
Credentials – Your dog chiropractor should have a license with the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) or the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association (IVCA). You can search a list of veterinary chiropractors by each of these associations.
Veterinarian referral – If your vet refers your dog to an animal chiropractor, most likely they are fairly skilled.
Friends – You might be surprised to know that your dog is not the only one in your circle to visit a pet chiropractor. Ask around for referrals.
What should you expect when you visit a dog chiropractor?
X-Ray – If your veterinarian didn’t take an x-ray of whatever is ailing your dog, you may expect an X-ray at your visit.
Exam – The pet chiropractor will do a thorough exam of your dog to determine mobility, soreness, and any other issues. The dog chiropractor will also be looking for asymmetry in your dog, such as symmetry in the hips, eyes, shoulders, etc.
Adjustment – After the x-ray and exam, the veterinary chiropractor will begin the actual adjustment. This can be done with an “activator” (which is a chiropractic hand tool used for adjustments) or by hand.
Will my dog feel any pain with a dog chiropractic visit?
Generally, there is no pain associated with an animal chiropractic adjustment. The goal is to relieve pain and not to cause more discomfort.
Should I look for any side effects when my dog has a veterinary chiropractic adjustment?
The side effects for your dog will be minimal. After the adjustment, your dog may be sleepy. The next day or two after the adjustment, your dog might be sore. However, this should be gone within two days and your dog should feel better. If not, you will want to contact the pet chiropractor.
Are there any types of dogs who should avoid a dog chiropractic visit?
Yes, there are a few cases where one should avoid an animal chiropractic adjustment. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you if your dog is a good candidate for a dog chiropractic visit. A few times dogs should avoid seeing a veterinary chiropractor is when there are signs of:
- Acute infection
- Acute inflammation
How much does a dog chiropractor cost?
The costs will vary by area. However, in my area, the general rate for an initial visit with a dog chiropractor is currently about $100, and $50 for each follow-up visit. Although, if your dog needs X-rays, that would be an additional cost.
How many visits your dog needs will depend on your dog’s ailment.
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Summary of the pros and cons of dog chiropractors
In this article, we discovered that dog chiropractors can help with many ailments found in dogs, including arthritis, mobility, hip dysplasia, and incontinence to name a few.
Finding a good dog chiropractor can be done with the assistance of your regular veterinarian and a few clicks of your mouse to check credentials.
The side effects seem minimal and the possibilities can be amazing.
If your pup needs to see a dog chiropractor and the outcome is successful and your dog has a better quality of life, then your dog chiropractor is a valuable tool. Anything that helps to improve the quality of life is worth it in my view.