Dog Chiropractors: Miracle Workers or Money Wasters?

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.

cute corgie gets check out by one of the dog chiropractors
disclaimer note
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.

*Updated: November 5, 2023

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 to know if your dog needs a chiropractor?

Sometimes it’s as simple as watching your dog and realizing he/she isn’t responding to traditional vet care. Or it’s wanting to improve your dog’s overall health. This is truly when you will want to consult your regular vet for advice on what’s best for your dog.

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:

  • Limps
  • Pain
  • Mobility
  • Abnormal gait
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Osteoarthritis/arthritis
  • Surgery recovery
  • Incontinence

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.

Another great way to ease dog pain or even detect it is with a massage. In this article, I guide you through how to give your dog a massage at home.

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. 

Do you simply wish your vet would come to you? In this article, I discuss the benefits of a mobile vet.

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.

AVCA can be searched here.

IVCA can be searched here.

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. 

Does your dog need vaccines, but you are worried about the cost? In this article, I show you how to get your dog’s vaccines at vet-approved low-cost clinics.  

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. 

Do you know the signs to look for when you need a new vet? In this article, I share the top 15 signs that pop up when you need to switch vets.

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
  • Tumor(s)
  • Acute inflammation
  • Fracture(s)

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. 

Related Posts:

Summary 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.   

a happy dog is excited for her session with one of the dog chiropractors

Has your pup seen a dog chiropractor? What are your experiences?

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About Terri Rodefer

Terri Rodefer is the founder of Tail Wag Wisdom, a blog focused on affordable pet care. She likes to say helping pet parents afford and love their animals even more, makes her tail wag. As a lifelong lover of all animals with a background in economics, biology, and marketing, allows Terri to bring a unique spin to pet care. 

32 thoughts on “Dog Chiropractors: Miracle Workers or Money Wasters?”

  1. Interesting post! The only time I looked into a pet chiropractor was when one of my dogs hurt his back. We were actually advised against seeing a chiropractor for his particular condition, as we were told there was a potential to do more harm than good. I know people who swear by going to chiropractors, though, and I can see how it could be helpful for some conditions in pets too.

    Reply
    • Oh, my so sorry to hear your dog hurt his back. I hope he’s better now. I’m really glad you talked with your veterinarian about the risks of visiting a dog chiropractor.

      Reply
  2. Even with a small sample, like the study you quote there appear to be positive benefits for dogs. AND – if it work for humans why on earth should it not work for animals? My partner goes on a regular basis for a back issue and yes, chiroprctors do work.

    It’s like supplements. People often need to be convinced but then they begin to believe these things can help.

    Reply
    • I agree with you that if something works for humans, it should work for our animals. But I do know that there are people that like to see the evidence on everything. I have friends that don’t believe much of anything without evidence. And I have to admit the research is fun. And it does reveal some amazing facts to support what we already know.

      Thanks for sharing your insights and I hope your partner’s back feels better.

      Reply
  3. I have not used a chiropractor for my pets, but if they had an issue that could be resolved that way, I definitely would! I see a chiropractor for myself. I think that chiropractic is a great, drug-free approach to healing. I have met a pet chiropractor one time and she told me that she doesn’t see cats much because cats tend to be so relaxed at home (and they stretch when the want to) that they don’t have a lot of skeletal issues. Dogs are a whole different thing.

    Reply
    • That’s so interesting about cats! That would make sense. Cats do stretch a lot and are a bit on the zen side of the spectrum. That’s my goal. So, maybe we need to be a combo of cat and dog? Hmmm….

      Reply
  4. I have never thought of one for Layla so this post is an eye opener, am learning daily with her aging. Fantastic post and thanks for the information and lesson

    Reply
  5. I had never thought about chiropractic services for dogs (or any animals), but it makes sense. I took my cat for acupuncture, so why wouldn’t other therapies work for animals? Great information that I’m sure will help a lot of pet owners.

    Reply
    • I’m glad you found this article useful. I’m glad you had success with acupuncture for your cat. I’ve had great success with acupuncture for one of my horses as well. It can be a great therapy in certain situations. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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    • You are absolutely right. There are many people who receive great relief from chiropractors. Since we are the caretakers for our animals it’s nice to dive into the consequences of a therapy and learn if it does relate straight across or not. Like for dog chiropractors, there are certain situations in which it may be harmful, which would be the same for people. But again, we need to use extreme good judgment when we are making choices for our animals since we are their leaders and caretakers. The same as we do for our human children.

      You make an excellent point. Chiropractic therapy should translate nicely to our dogs. It certainly seems to as long we are well-advised of our dog’s ailments and if he/she is a good candidate. Thank you for your spot-on observation!

      Reply
  6. I don’t own a dog however was ignorant of dog chiropractors in general. I’d imagine whatever a dog mom or dad wants to do to ensure their pet is comfortable is what they will do whether it’s trendy or not. I had no idea dog chiropractors could help alleviate arthritis, hip dysplasia, and incontinence. This was very informative.

    Reply
    • I’m glad you found this article informative. While this post is geared toward dogs, vet chiropractors are able to work on a multitude of animals. One of my horses even had a chiropractic adjustment for his arthritis pain, which was very successful. I hope this adds to your information for whenever you welcome your next kitty. 😉

      Reply
  7. The first time I learned about dog chiropractic was in a TCVM book, Four Paws, Five Directions. The first time I tried it, however, was at a recommendation of Jasmine’s vet. We’ve been using chiropractic treatments for our dogs ever since.

    Reply
  8. When I was a college professor, I took my cat, Sweet Praline to a vet who did adjustments on her each time she went. It seemed to relax her. I had one human chiropractor who wanted to adjust animals, but I was a little skeptical about him since he didn’t have training with animals.

    Reply
    • That’s a great endorsement for an animal chiropractor. I’m glad to hear your cat received good relief. I think you did a great job by sticking with a vet chiropractor for your cat and not using a human chiropractor. A human’s anatomy and a cat’s are very different. Great trusting your instincts!

      Reply
  9. chiropractic applied kinesiology kinesiology is extremely similar to this
    except it puts biomechanics into action.

    Reply
    • You are correct! Great observation, Del! As long as you find a good vet chiropractor it can provide great benefits. Thank you for your insights!

      Reply
  10. The body has its very own language that will
    certainly assist us to the beginnings chiropractor of applied kinesiology discomfort as well as various other illness.

    Reply
    • Thank you for your kind words. Yes, I always think it’s important to consult your vet. That’s why it’s so important to have a good vet you can communicate with about your pet’s health and your concerns. Good luck with your dog! I’m hoping there’s a quick recovery for your pup.

      Reply
  11. I blog quite often and I seriously thank you for your information. This great article has truly peaked my interest. I’m going to take a note of your blog and keep checking for new details about once a week. I opted in for your Feed as well.

    Reply

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