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  • Writer's pictureDr. Heike Jung

Does my Pet Need a Chiropractor?

You’re an animal chiropractor??? I didn’t know animals needed to be adjusted. How in the world do you adjust a horse? Does my dog need to be adjusted? How did you become an animal chiropractor? Do you adjust cats?

Those are just a few questions I get asked often when people find out I’m a veterinary chiropractor. So I thought I would answer them here in case you have some of the same questions.

I graduated from vet school in 1994 (seems like only yesterday). I practiced as a small animal and equine vet for 4-6 years before I became interested in chiropractic. A friend of mine had a chiropractor come out to look at her mare and wanted to know if I wanted my horse adjusted also. I looked at her with my head cocked to the side and said: “They have chiropractors for animals? You’re kidding!” (Yes! I started out as quite the skeptic.) I watched the chiropractor adjust my friend’s mare and finally asked if he could have a look at my horse since I noticed she never looked behind her without turning her whole body around….it’s like she was as stiff as a board. He adjusted her and the following morning when I walked up behind my horse and called her name, she was able to bend her neck and look at me. It was the first time I saw her butt and face at the same time. I was in awe!! And that was the beginning of my journey into chiropractic medicine. It took two years and over 250 hours to be certified through the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association, and I have to continue my education annually to keep my AVCA certification.

I currently adjust dogs, cats, and horses, although I’ve adjusted llamas, donkeys, goats, and cows in the past. The most difficult animals to adjust are those that are fearful, no matter what species or breed. When it comes to adjusting dogs, I either stand over them or kneel next to them (sometimes I have to crawl or roll on the floor with them to get the right angle for my adjustment). I’m always surprised how well cats tolerate the adjustments. I usually adjust them on a table or I kneel on the floor and nest them between my legs. They seem to feel safe there and will allow me to adjust them quickly and easily.

Horses take a little longer to adjust only because they are bigger. But like I tell my clients: “I’m only adjusting one bone at a time.”

I either use my hands or a tool to administer a quick thrust to the vertebral joints to stimulate the nervous system to heal itself. By the way, I find that chiropractic care and homeopathy complement each other well. They both stimulate the body to heal itself…

So how do you know when your dog, cat, or horse needs to be adjusted? For animals that don’t have any issues, chiropractic care will keep the neural pathways open with what I call “Preventive Maintenance” schedule which is two to six times a year. For cats and horses I think twice a year is sufficient; for dogs it’s every other month.

But if you notice limping, inability to jump on furniture, hesitation to jump in the car, behavior changes, or a sudden dislike for going for walks, it’s time for a visit to an animal chiropractor. In addition if your dog is unable to run to you in a straight line, if you cat is not holding its tail up anymore, if your horse is not responding to your aids, it’s time for a chiropractic visit. You may also want to schedule an appointment shortly after your pet has had surgery. You’d be surprised what the struggle to regain footing after an anesthetic episode will do to an animal spine. You will want to get those misalignments corrected so your fur baby can heal quickly and properly.

Most animals respond very favorably to chiropractic adjustments. Most will need 2-3 days of quiet low stress time so the body can re-balance itself, although there are many cases where the effects of chiropractic care is immediate. You won’t know until you give it a try.

As I always say: “Each body is different. We’ll just have to try it and see.”

Please leave your comments below.

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