While many of us may have visited a chiropractor once or twice before for our back, many people that I talk to are surprised to learn that veterinary chiropractors have been practicing this alternative medicine for 15+ years. I often get inquisitive looks when I tell fellow pet parents that my dogs see a chiropractor.
Yes, all 5 of my dogs see a chiropractor every 8 weeks. Some go for maintenance, some go to address medical concerns but all 5 are there for preventative care.
I’m big on preventative, holistic care. I’m always concerned or weary of giving my dogs any medications and surgery is always my last resort, so when Clark Kent showed signs of a luxating patella in his hind leg, I immediately took him to our Veterinarian, Dr. Zulty, to check out our options. I was happy to hear that Dr. Zulty wouldn’t even classify Clark Kent’s potential luxating patella as a grade 1. (Luxating patellas are measured on a graded scale of 1 – 4; 1 being very mild and 4 being the worst case: “this dog needs surgery now”.) Even though Clark Kent wasn’t a grade 1, I still wanted to do preventive care to lessen his chances of it becoming an issue in the future.
With this being said, I discussed possible activities that could help build strength in Clark Kent’s legs with Dr. Zulty. One suggestion that resonated with me was chiropractic care. I’ve been to a chiropractor many, many times. In fact, my late grandfather was a chiropractor that would often help adjust my back when my regular doctors couldn’t figure out what was causing my hip pain. Chiropractic care coupled with regular exercise was our plan of attack to help Clark Kent.
Where do I find a Licensed Chiropractor?
This was my first question. I had occasionally heard about chiropractors for dogs but thought it was very rare and living in an unprogressive state like Maryland, I was concerned I’d have to travel to NYC or somewhere else to find a certified dog chiropractor.
Luckily, my regular Veterinarian knew of a fellow colleague that is a certified chiropractor. In fact, the chiropractor, Dr. Carr, has actually filled in at his practice when he’s away on vacation or taking trips to Peru to help spay and neuter local stray dogs. I’m not sure if it’s because I have a pack of 5 or if Dr. Carr just likes to travel but she spares me the 1 ½ hour drive to her area, Annapolis, by coming up to my reg vet’s practice to adjust my pack.
Dog chiropractors are a small, yet growing community. It’s always ideal to first ask your reg vet if he knows of a licensed dog chiropractor that he recommends. If they are not aware of any nearby, the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association lists certified dog chiropractors by state.
What happens during a chiropractic visit?
If you’re one of the lucky ones that have an in-house chiropractor at your reg vet’s office then your chiropractor should have your dog’s medical records. If you have to go to another location, be sure to bring a copy of your dog’s medical records for your chiropractor to review.
Once the exam starts, the chiropractor will ask you basic questions about how your dog is doing while feeling his joints. My dogs chiropractor actually prefers to not look at them while she’s examining them, she says that just feeling around their back and legs works better for her.
Once your chiropractor has examined your dog, they will begin cracking your dog’s back. It sounds worse than it is. It is much like when you get your back cracked. Your chiropractor will put gentle pressure on your dog’s spine to “crack” their back.
Then, just like a “human chiropractor”, they will adjust your dog’s neck if need be.
Next, your chiropractor will check your dog’s legs, arm joints and shoulders. Our chiropractor can tell me if my dogs shoulders are tight and will help alleviate their tightness. A simple check of how level your dog can raise their front legs is a good indicator of shoulder tightness.
If your dog is having certain problems or issues, your chiropractor will go into depth on certain areas and/or try some different manipulations. Different chiropractors may have different techniques but all will be beneficial for your dog.
After my pack is finished being adjusted by Dr. Carr, they are often very mellow and calm. They come into the Vet’s office barking and very energetic and they leave laying down in their stroller, ready to nap.
What if my dog is healthy? What are the benefits then?
My answer to this is two fold: your dog may have an underlying condition that you are unaware of and/or routine adjustments are still beneficial for healthy dogs!
For instance, when we would pick Peter Parker up and hold up in the air in front of us, his head would often slouch to the side. He was like a baby that didn’t have control of their neck just yet. However, none of The Others had this issue. When Dr. Carr felt around on Peter Parker, she could instantly feel that his neck atlas was out of whack. Peter Parker’s first cervical vertebrae needed to be put back into place. Now, he holds his neck up without issue, however, he does start to slip if he doesn’t have it routinely adjusted.
Both Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark have received clean bills of chiropractic health each time they have been adjusted. Even though one would say neither Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark “need to go to the chiropractor”’, I still have them both adjusted every 8 weeks. Routine chiropractic care can help deter the risk of injury and/or joint degeneration. And, as I said earlier, I’m all about preventative care.
Below is a chart listing other ways in which chiropractic care can be helpful for dogs of all ages and sizes.
How much does a dog chiropractic session cost?
The price of a chiropractic session for your dog will vary. Variables depend on your location and demand of the chiropractor you are seeing. For us, I pay $75.00 per session for each dog. In total, every 8 weeks, I pay $375 for 5 dogs to be adjusted. I know what you’re thinking …. this is a lot of money for alternative care. And you’re not wrong. Alternative care can often be more expensive for routine care, as it is a specialized service.
Is chiropractic care covered by pet insurance?
Each pet insurance company is different. Before you sign with a pet insurance company, I suggest you do a lot of research and talk to fellow dog parents for recommendations or which companies to stay away from. For instance, I would never ever recommendation Nationwide Pet Insurance to anyone. I had horrible experiences with Bruce Wayne’s coverage and ultimately cancelled his plan.
Chiropractic care generally falls into the wellness plan category. And, for this reason, I chose to have my 4 puppies covered by Embrace Pet Insurance. They have the most complete wellness coverage that I found on the market and they cover alternative and holistic care, which many pet insurance plans do not. So, for us, the puppies chiropractic visits are covered!
Regardless of your stance on holistic care, I encourage you to have an open mind when it comes to chiropractic care for your dog. No matter how old your dog is, he can benefit from chiropractic care. Puppies can especially benefit from chiropractic care when they are young, as their bones are “loose” and chiropractic care could potentially help guide their bones into properly settling into their joints.
Cheers to good health for your dog!