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Chiropractic for Pets: Another tool in the pet care toolbox

By December 5, 2022 No Comments

Chiropractic for pets: Yes, it’s a “thing”, yes it can help, and yes, we offer it at our hospital! Intrigued? Keep reading!

Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy (VSMT)

Chiropractic, also known as Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy (VSMT), is a manual therapy that helps reduce pain and improve mobility in our pets. Offering complementary therapy to traditional medical care, VSMT focuses on the interaction between the skeleton (particularly the spine), the muscles, and the nerves, and involves joint manipulation to provide relief to overstimulated nerves or tight/spasming muscles.

Many pets can benefit from this therapy, especially those that have stiffness, arthritic pain, decreased activity level, difficulty getting onto the bed or going up or down stairs.

Chiropractic treatments can be dangerous if not performed by a trained practitioner. Veterinarians and chiropractors must complete at least 220 hours of additional training as well as case study work before calling themselves a veterinary chiropractor or spinal manipulation therapist.

“Adjusting” to chiropractic lingo

During your pet’s chiropractic session, we will assess the movement of their joints. If certain joints aren’t moving properly, your veterinary chiropractor will perform an adjustment. An adjustment is a quick gentle thrust in a specific direction to cause an improvement in the joint’s motion. This not only improves joint alignment but also input from the joint sensors to the brain, stimulating the release of feel-good endorphins and other pain-relieving chemicals that provide pain relief throughout the body. It can also decrease muscle soreness caused by the strain of joint misalignment.


Does a chiropractic adjustment hurt?

We try to be very gentle and keep your pet as comfortable as possible during a chiropractic treatment. And despite all stereotypes, we do not “crack” joints.  Generally, adjustments don’t hurt. However, if your pet is already in pain, they may be tender to some adjustments at first but get pain relief in the long term.


Why does my pet sleep the rest of the day?
After an adjustment, pets are often quite tired. This is a normal neurological response to the amount and type of nerve stimulation that occurs during treatment. They may also be thirstier and need extra water after the treatment as the manipulation of joints and muscles causes a shift in water distribution within the body, particularly rehydrating tight fascia (connective tissue that covers and holds muscles, organs, nerves, blood vessels and bone).


How often should my pet be treated?

Our veterinary chiropractor will let you know how often your pet should have chiropractic treatments. This will depend specifically on your pet’s problem and is best determined after they have been fully assessed. Some pets that have chronic problems such as osteoarthritis can benefit from regular “maintenance” treatments. During these treatments is a great time for our veterinary team to reassess your pet and ensure we’re doing all we can do to keep your pet comfortable.


Talk to us about whether chiropractic therapy is right for your pet – we’re always happy to help!

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