Pet Chiropractic Care & Back Problems: Home Treatment Tips
Chiropractic care…do you use it? In the past I’ve had back issues and got relief after visiting my chiropractor. Pet chiropractic care works as well in dogs and cats as in people, too. In fact, many people with performance dogs regularly schedule chiropractic treatments for their canine athletes..But how do I know if my dog needs a chiropractor? Why would a dog need a chiropractor, and how much is a chiropractic adjustment for a dog?
Cat chiropractic care may not happen as often. After all, felines practice their own form of yoga to stay limber. They’re also much lighter weight than many dogs, and perhaps that puts less strain on their bodies.
CAN CHIROPRACTIC CARE HELP PETS? Why would a dog need a chiropractor?
PETS AND CHIROPRACTIC CARE
I’ve blogged about holistic pet care before here. Chiropractic care for pets is a great option for keeping canine athletes in top performance form. Bodywork treatments can benefit your cats and dogs not only for recovery from injury but also prevention of problems by including massage, physical therapy and chiropractic adjustments. While massage focuses on the tissues surrounding the bones, manipulative therapies focus on the proper functioning of the joints and related muscles, including the spine. Some joint supplements also may help.
Holistic veterinarians say pet chiropractic adjustments can affect your pet’s emotions, as well as how the organs work, due to what he calls viscera-somatic, or “organ-to-muscle” reflex. I know that my back issues affect my emotions. And for our dogs and cats, the discomfort of any illness can make things worse. Music therapy can help ease the stress during these painful episodes.
Both science and holistic methods work hand-in-paw with these hands-on modalities, both in people and in pets. For example, when I hurt my back, my chiropractor required X-rays to be sure what was going on before attempting any adjustments, and followed that up with an MRI. While a human chiropractor can’t prescribe drugs (unless also an M.D.), a chiropractor with a veterinary degree can incorporate medications to help.
HANDS ON HELP: CHIROPRACTIC CARE & PHYSICAL THERAPY
Manipulative therapies carefully flex the affected joints to return them to proper alignment. They customize treatment plan to the individual pet. It may take only one “adjustment” or instead require several. The longer the problem has existed, the more treatments will be necessary. Chiropractic manipulations (especially of the spine) require a trained veterinary chiropractor because it can be very easy to injure your pet unless you know what you’re doing.
Physical therapy techniques, though, performed by you at home can help loosen up your canine athlete’s stiff legs, shoulders and necks. Movement increases joint mobility, and also stimulates production of synovial fluid, a joint fluid that nourishes and lubricates the joints to keep them healthy. Be careful not to over-extend a muscle or joint, though, and pay attention to your pet if he tells you to stop. Flinching or crying out during physical therapy means to stop and have a vet check out the pet for any problems.
How much is a chiropractic adjustment for a dog?
The cost of chiropractic care in dogs or cats varies a great deal, depending on the animal’s circumstance. Remember that a veterinary chiropractor requires specialized training, and not as many are available. One session may run from $50 to $200, and require a single session or a series of treatments.
HOME TREATMENTS FOR PETS: Can a dog’s spine be adjusted?
There are some easy to use physical therapy techniques you can do at home with your pet. This probably will work better with dogs than with cats—felines have their own way of performing kitty yoga and may not want your help! Leave the spinal manipulation to the expert chiropractor, though.
- Put your pet on his side.
- Take his front paw in one hand and his elbow with your other. For the back leg, you’ll hold the paw and hock instead.
- Move the leg in a circle, as if he’s running—forward, out, down and back.
- Stretch the leg with this gentle pressure only as much as the pup will tolerate and keep going for about five minutes (or until the put tells you to stop) before you switch to the next leg.
- You’ll need to have him rest on his other side to do the other two legs.
CHIROPRACTIC CARE & MOTION PALPATION
You can perform a chiropractic technique called motion palpation safely at home for your cats and dogs. Motion palpation helps flex and extend the joints of the back. It can have an additive effect, so that even tiny amounts done daily help pets feel better over the long term. It’s particularly helpful for creaky older dogs, but even athletic pups will enjoy and benefit from this gentle treatment that keeps them flexible and may help prevent injury.
- Ask your dog to stand or lie down in a comfy position.
- Feel for the individual vertebrae, the bumpy bones in the dog’s back. Pay particular attention to the dents or “valleys” between each bone.
- Start at your pet’s neck, right where his skull meets the spine. Position your thumb and index finger on each side of the first dent between the first vertebrae and his skull. Press down very gently with your fingers, and release.
- Then move to the next dip, and repeat the quick gentle pressure—each press shouldn’t take more than one second, so you can count, “One-one-thousand” and then move on.
- Continue to move downward from his furry head toward his wagging tail, pressing each “valley” in turn and then releasing.
Hands-on therapies can enormously benefit cats and dogs. It can also help you stay “in touch” with your furry family members. Have you or your pet ever suffered an injury and received help from a chiropractor? What helped your situation resolve the problem?
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!
Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!