The Benefit of Chiropractic for our Pets

Danger for Cats: Essential Oils
October 29, 2009
Keeping Our Pets Safe During the Holidays
November 18, 2009

The Benefit of Chiropractic for our Pets

In my animal communication practice, I have worked with animals who receive regular chiropractic treatments for a variety of reasons. Often the animal can clearly express just how valuable the treatments are for them. I recall one recent animal communication consultation when a dog explained that he was feeling “less congested” in his mid-back after just one chiropractic session. He had a sensation of more openness and better flow in that area, which even included better flow in his digestive system.

I am very pleased to introduce Dr. Andi Harper, DC, CAC who agreed to be interviewed and discuss the benefits of chiropractic for animals.  

Q: What are the benefits of chiropractic care for animals overall, and are there a few specific issues which seem to be more predominate in your practice?

A: The benefits of chiropractic care for animals are generally the same as they are for humans. Chiropractic care is able to reduce arthritis and the associated joint pain such as mild/moderate hip dysplasia, and decrease pain through the release of spinal pressure, which in turn reduces stiffness and muscle spasm throughout the painful region. With the reduction of pain with a chiropractic adjustment, your pet will then have better range of motion, better movement, better coordination, especially those dogs that are “neurologic” and are crossing and knuckling more commonly in the rear. Now your pet will have more energy and will generally feel better due to proper alignment of the spine.

I generally work with the geriatric or senior group of dogs. They usually have a hard time getting up from a seated or lying position, going up stairs and getting in the car. These dogs may have been diagnosed specifically with arthritis or it just may be suspect. Their parents have been to the vet and they are taking some medication for pain that is usually helpful but their parents are wonderful pet owners and they only want the best quality of life for their pets final years and they are looking for something more. They are looking to make their beloved pet more comfortable because when it comes right down to it, they are an important part of the family and they deserve the best.

Q: For animal guardians and lovers, can you give us an idea of symptoms or diagnoses that might respond well to chiropractic treatments?

A: Many symptoms and diagnoses respond to chiropractic care. I will mention here just a few. I picked these few because the first one about losing power in the back end is easily fixed and is usually mis-diagnosed as a hip problem; the lick granulomas are difficult to treat and many vets are not even familiar with a cervical adjustment as a treatment option; and post-surgical is one of the issues I think is so very important and one I don’t see very often.

Lose power in the rear: the inability to jump into the car or on furniture (if they are allowed) is usually due to the thoracolumbar region becoming overly sore due to overuse. This a transition spot in the spine and generally takes a little more of a beating (wear and tear) and when it becomes very sore your dog will lose power in both back legs. Your dog may also have more trouble sitting down and getting up; it may be slow and look painful (it probably is).

Lick granulomas: when contained to one foot (occasionally two), lick granulomas are generally not due to an allergy which usually will affect all four feet. Please discuss all possible allergies with your veterinarian. From a chiropractic point of view, these granulomas clear up with about 2-5 cervical adjustments. The theory is that your dog is experiencing pain, numbness, tingling down the paw due to a chiropractic subluxation in the neck. The neck is not moving properly. I have seen these granulomas (areas where the dogs lick obsessively and cause an open wound ) where owners have tried everything and they have been present for years, clear up with chiropractic adjustments.

Post-surgical: where the dog had to be off a limb and the body had to compensate by using the other three limbs in a somewhat abnormal fashion while the injury healed. These clients feel so much better after an adjustment.

Q: How would one find a qualified and skilled practitioner of chiropractic for their pet? Are there certifications or licenses required which are specific for work with animals? For example, can most Doctors of Chiropractic work on animals?

A: The best way to find a qualified and skilled certified animal chiropractor is word of mouth. Ask your animal communicator, the lady you buy your pet food from, your veterinary acupuncturist and/or holistic vet who they recommend. Ask your own chiropractor, because not just any chiropractor is certified to work on your animals. Along with being a doctor of chiropractic medicine, the chiropractor that works on your pet needs to be certified by an American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA)  approved program. This is a 210 hour post-graduate program that specializes in teaching chiropractors how to properly adjust animals.

Q: What is your favorite animal chiropractic success story?

A: This has been the toughest question because I am having a hard time narrowing it down to just one story. I will tell you about Shadow, a German Shepard rescued by Ann from the Dumb Friends League. Shadow was saved by Ann at about age 5-7 and she had been terribly abused for most of her life. She was bred continuously and left outside to fend for herself until she became too much of a bother. This was the story Ann got, unfortunately not an uncommon story. She brought Shadow home. It took Shadow months to trust Ann.  Ann called me in because Shadow was having such a hard time getting around – very slow and sore looking when she went to sit down, and getting up looked even more painful. By this time Shadow would follow Ann everywhere, down to the barn and back several times a day and Ann was worried she wasn’t going to be able to make it back to the house at some point.

During my first visit, Shadow had to be tricked into the house and into her bed. She laid there, never looked me in the eye and didn’t make a peep. I warned Ann that this may take a few visits to get her moving better and that was all we were going for, moving better. Ann, Shadow, and I knew we weren’t going to get a two year old dog back. I saw Shadow every couple of weeks for a few visits, then every month for a few visits and then she was permanently put on an every other month schedule. Ann was thrilled. Shadow made it down to the barn and back every time and she was going for walks, at a very slow pace mind you, but she wanted to go. After about six months of seeing Shadow on a regular schedule, she made eye contact and interacted with me during a treatment. She actually whined and turned her head when I hit a sore spot. About a year later she started to greet me when I would stop by for our treatment. I saw Shadow for almost 3 years and chiropractic care kept her moving and brought her back into her body, the body she disconnected with so severely due to the unbearable abuse. Unfortunately, Shadow passed away at the beginning of this year due to a possible infection in her heart. I miss seeing her every other month and enjoy knowing how far she came in such a short amount of time. Although Shadow never did move with speed and grace, she was happy. I was privileged to be a part of the few good years Ann was able to provide for her.

Thank you, Dr. Andi, for helping us understand the benefits of chiropractic for our pets!

I look forward to working with your beloved animals for a variety of relevant topics. Schedule your animal communication consultation now for a deeper understanding of behaviors, symptoms, and quality of life.


  1. it is very interesting to know that Chiropractic procedure can be applied in animals as well.. 🙂

  2. In response to how chiropractic works in animals….it is very similar to how it works in humans. Simply, I use my hands to locate pain, muscle spasms, and/or joints in the spine that are not moving as they should, compared to the rest of the spine in the animal I am working on, and with a quick motion I put motion back into that joint. And with restored motion in a joint you now have a better functioning nervous system and therefore pain will reduce, muscle spasms will go down and healing can take place in a much quicker fashion. End result your animal feels better. I hope this helpful….

    Dr. Andi

  3. Great. I look forward to more great postings like this one.

  4. ..,quite amazing that Chiropractic procedure can be used in pets as well 🙂 still wondering how it works..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *