Animal Chiropractic
Animal chiropractic is a hands-on natural approach to your animal’s health care. Chiropractic care for animals is not new and its benefits have been known for decades. However, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that animal chiropractic finally become a recognized discipline in the field of animal health care largely through the relentless efforts of Dr. Sharon Willoughby who was both a veterinarian and a chiropractor.
Animal chiropractic concerns itself with the relationship of the spine and nervous system to the overall proper functioning and well-being of an animal. In conjunction with appropriate veterinary care, many specific neurologic, muscular, and skeletal or joint–related conditions and diseases respond very well to chiropractic care. The application of animal chiropractic involves a quick, controlled, and gentle force, or adjustment, directed to specific joints of the spine and/or limbs that have abnormal or restricted movement (i.e. subluxation). The adjustment helps to restore normal joint range of motion and mobility, relieve pain, and improve nerve and muscle function. Chiropractic can be used as a rehabilitative form of treatment or as part of a regular maintenance care program to prevent against injury and enhance your animal’s overall mobility, health and quality of life.
Who practices Animal Chiropractic?
Doctors of Chiropractic or Veterinary Medicine can practice animal chiropractic or veterinary spinal manipulative therapy (VSMT), respectively, upon successful completion of a basic program approved by either the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) or The College of Animal Chiropractors (CoAC).
How To Recognize If Your Animal Will Benefit From Chiropractic Care
The best type of healthcare, regardless of the profession, is always PREVENTION. Dr. Batch believes in striving for optimal mobility and health, not just the absence of disease or dysfunction. Whether your dog is an athlete, working dog or companion, regular chiropractic checkups can help identify spinal and joint-related issues before they become problematic for your dog. Unfortunately many biomechanical problems or injuries aren’t always evident in an animal but there are however some obvious indications of dysfunction.
The following signs & symptoms in a dog or cat may indicate dysfunction in the neuro-musculoskeletal system:
  • Difficulty climbing stairs or jumping onto raised areas
  • Changes in movement or reluctance to move
  • Stiffness (i.e. upon rising after lying down)
  • Abnormal posture (i.e. roach back), altered sitting position (i.e. “puppy sitting”)
  • Signs of pain or discomfort during certain movements
  • Abnormal gait, shortened stride in one or more legs, the hind end does not swing
  • Lameness in one or more limbs
  • Changes in behaviour such as increased scratching or licking
  • Limited performance, decreased energy or activity level
  • Sensitivity to touch when being groomed, petted or picked up
  • Muscular wasting or weakness, weakness in hind end
The benefits of chiropractic in helping alleviate neck, back, tail, and extremity joint dysfunction or pain in animals are well known. According to the CoAC and the AVCA, the following additional conditions may also benefit from chiropractic care:
  • Arthritis (in the spine and limbs)
  • Degenerative disc/joint disease
  • Injuries, strains/sprains related to slips, falls, training, etc.
  • Secondary effects from hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Patella (knee cap) luxations
  • TMJ or jaw problems
  • Post-surgical care to manage compensatory effects and improve healing (i.e. knee/ACL surgery)
  • Wobbler’s syndrome
  • Conditions that might not be responding as well to traditional veterinary care (i.e. lick granulomas, urinary incontinence, seizures)
Large animals such as horses can also benefit from regular chiropractic care. Whether you ride for pleasure or competitively regular chiropractic care helps keeps your horse biomechanically sound and moving well, and is ideal for overall equine health and performance. Like small animals, horses may also exhibit signs and symptoms indicative of dysfunction in the neuro-musculoskeletal system. Some common issues treated by an equine chiropractor include the following:
  • Short-striding (or off) in front
  • Short-striding (or off) behind
  • Difficulty flexing the poll
  • Head or ear-shy/head tilting
  • Difficulty picking up, maintaining, or changing leads
  • Difficulty with collection or impulsion/weaker in hind end
  • Hesitant to jump/jumping unevenly
  • Difficulty with bending/travelling wide on turns
  • Sensitivity around the girth
  • Insubordination when being ridden, pulls against one rein
  • Carrying tail more to one side
  • Rider feeling crooked or saddle slipping to one side
  • Shoes worn down on one side or horse drags its feet
  • Feeling stiff (or cold-backed)
Animal Chiropractic & Veterinary Care
Dr. Batch is a Doctor of Chiropractic, licensed in Ontario, to diagnose and treat neuro-musculoskeletal disorders in humans with a specialty training in Animal Chiropractic. Dr. Batch will not take responsibility for the primary health care of your animal. Chiropractic care is not intended to replace traditional veterinary care but is utilized in conjunction with appropriate veterinary care to improve the overall health and wellness of your animal. It is considered a specialized complementary therapy for animals and should always be used in conjunction with veterinary care.
Chiropractic and Performance Animals
Proper spinal and joint mobility is important to the overall health and function of all animals but for performance animals, chiropractic is essential. Maintaining the animal’s spine and all joints, including those of the limbs, in biomechanical balance will not only help to prevent and minimize injuries, it will also enhance an animal’s performance. Problems or injuries that develop aren’t always evident in an animal, especially performance animals, as they may learn to compensate in various ways. Eventually however, changes in function or performance will become evident. For example, your dog might not jump as high for the Frisbee, might turn differently off the box, or may move slower or more hesitantly through the weave poles, and so on. Unfortunately, by the time changes in performance are noticeable, problems may have been developing for a while, as the canine or equine athlete is very good at compensating for any pain or joint dysfunction. Preventative or maintenance care of your animal’s spine ensures that cumulative stresses of everyday activity or athletic training don’t ‘build up’ over time, thus allowing your animal to not only enjoy a healthier and happier life but also to train and compete at their optimal level.
Chiropractic helps restore proper movement and mobility to the skeletal (joint) system of the spine and extremities improving nerve and muscle function, and thereby improving the animal’s coordination, power, speed, and ultimately their athletic performance.
Mobile services for Animal Chiropractic are available upon request.