IS YOUR PET WELL-ADJUSTED? This information is designed to answer some of the questions you may have concerning chiropractic care for animals. Our office offers chiropractic care for the animal patient. Animal chiropractic is a relatively new profession, and it has great potential for dealing with many animal health problems.
WHAT IS CHIROPRACTIC? Most people associate chiropractic care only with back problems. This is a misconception. Chiropractic deals with the nervous system that is housed inside the spinal column. The spinal cord carries all the nerves that go to every organ in the body. These nerves exit the spinal column through areas between vertebras, which are the individual spinal bones. Chiropractic maintains that adequate nerve supply is vital to the proper functioning of the entire body. When the vertebra bones are misaligned, even very slightly, they affect the nerves and the chiropractic adjustment is aimed at correction the subluxation and restoring the proper functioning of the nervous system.
Chiropractic thus works to eliminate the cause of the problem and not just simply treat the symptoms. Many animal benefits from chiropractic care.
WHAT CAUSES SUBLUXATION? A subluxation is caused by trauma such as slips, falls, automobile accidents, and blows. Sometimes these accidents are major, like getting hit by a car; or sometimes they are minor, like slipping on ice, or simply a misstep. The birthing process can lead to subluxations if the spine is subjected to abnormal forces a delivery time. As animals age, stresses naturally accumulate in their spine.
WHICH ANIMALS CAN BE TREATED? ALL OF THEM This office sees many diverse problems responding to chiropractic care: lameness, abnormal gait, neck and back pain, epilepsy, older animals with stiffness and pain, bed wetting, in dogs infertility, and many other diseases. One of the most exciting things that we happen in almost of the animals we treat is an improvement in the animal's attitude. Owners tell us all the time about how good the animal feels after an adjustment.
HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE? Chiropractic care takes time since we are allowing the body to heal itself after the proper nerve functioning has been restored. Animals tend to recover very quickly; however, chiropractic care may not entirely solve the problem for older patients. The speed of recovery depends on these factors:
The length of time that the problem has been present. The more time that has elapsed since the onset means that the recovery may take longer. It takes time to get sick and it takes time to get well.
Age and physical condition. Older animals are slower to heal. It is not possible to return a 14 year-old dog to puppy hood, but the quality of this life may greatly increase with chiropractic care.
Damage. How much damage has been done? Sometimes there is simply no repair for severely damaged issues. For example, if the spinal cord is damaged by a ruptured disc, there may be slow and minimal healing with any treatment.
Cooperation. The speed of recovery often depends on how well the owner will cooperate with the animal chiropractor who is treating this pet. If the animal is removed from care too soon, the best possible results may not be achieved.
CHIROPRACTIC CARE FOR HORSES What is Chiropractic care for horses? Chiropractic care is not a substitute for traditional veterinary medicine and surgery. It is a complementary method of therapy. Chiropractic focuses on the proper function of the spinal column. The spine of a horse is a complex structure that is composed of bone, ligament, muscle, and nerves. The bones of the spinal column are called vertebra. The spinal cord passes through the center of each vertebra. Nerves branch off the spinal cord and exit between two vertebra to travel to all the muscles and organs of the body. There are approximately 200 joints in the spinal column of the horse. Numerous muscles and ligaments are attached to the vertebra enabling the spinal column to flex and bend.
Chiropractors use the term subluxation to describe a specific problem of the spinal column. A subluxation is defined as a vertebra that is “stuck” or unable to move correctly. When movement between two vertebra is restricted, the horse will have decreased flexibility of the spine. Stiffness, resistance, pain, and lack of ability results. Mis-aligned vertebra causes problems in nerves by interfering with nerve transmissions. Subluxation may be pictured as pinching off or altering that flow of information. Depending on the area and amount of nerve interference, problems may then develop in a specific area of the body.
What could cause subluxation in the spine of a horse? Being born (squeezing through the birth canal); trauma/injuries; confirmation traits; stall confinement (especially on an uneven floor); age; tack/equipment (poor saddle fit); rider ability; trailers (loading/unloading); improper shoeing/ trimming.
How might a horse act if he/she has pain from a subluxation? Abnormal posture; discomfort when saddling; discomfort when riding or working (wringing tail, pinning ears); uncooperative attitude; head shy; head tilt or shaking; decreased lateral flexion; lameness; short, choppy gait; difficult gait transitions; difficulty picking up canter lead. Also, internal organs suffering from abnormal nerve function may result in chronic colic, poor digestion and infertility.
The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association trains and certifies chiropractors and veterinarians in the art and science of animal adjusting. Performance horses often have many problems and many compensations. Some problems are permanent and some diseases are progressive despite the best health care. Have realistic expectations, healing takes time.
REGULAR MAINTENANCE: Chiropractic care is directed toward preventing disease in the body, therefore, it is important to make sure that the spine is kept in optimum condition.
Please contact Noreen Ziegler, DVM, for more information or to schedule an appointment to have your dog, cat or horse evaluated.