What is Animal Chiropractic?
As a compliment to veterinary care, animal chiropractic is a gentle and effective manual therapy aimed at correcting joint, disc and soft tissue disorders that affect our pets. Just like humans, spinal mobility issues in animals can interfere with the function and performance of the nervous system.
The neurological affects of abnormal spinal motion can range from something as benign as a slight limp when your pet gets up in the morning, to severe clinical symptoms where your pet may lose complete function of their rear-legs and/or control of their bowel/bladder.
Animal chiropractors deliver gentle, yet specific adjustments to your pet’s spine and extremities. This acts to maintain proper spinal motion allowing optimal functioning of the nerves, muscles and soft tissues surrounding the joints, resulting in pain relief, and improved movement, stance and flexibility.
Who are Animal Chiropractors?
Certified animal chiropractors are licensed Doctors of Chiropractic and/or Doctors of Veterinary Medicine who have taken specialized training in animal chiropractic, and have completed international competency examinations set forth by The College of Animal Chiropractors (COAC), and/or the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA). Dr. Taron Carruthers and Dr. Craig Landry are both human chiropractors who have taken over 850 hours of specialized training in animal chiropractic techniques with over 15 years of clinical experience; graduating from the Veterinary Chiropractic Learning Centre in 2014.
How do I know if my animal needs a chiropractor?
While animals cannot tell you when and where they hurt, they will show you if you know what to look for. One of the most common indications that your pet may have discomfort and could benefit from chiropractic is a change in behaviour – i.e, decreased energy, sleeping more, is grumpy or sad, or perhaps just hasn’t been their usual self. Other signs that your animal may benefit from chiropractic care include:
- Pain or sensitivity to touch
- Rear-leg paralysis
- Vestibular Disease / Balance issues
- Digestive Issues
- Excessive licking of a limb
- Incontinence (decreased bowel or bladder control)
- Sitting with both rear legs off to one side
- Difficulty climbing stairs, jumping on furniture or getting in/out of vehicles
- Reluctance to engage in regular physical activity
- Altered posture (roached back, sway back etc)
- Muscle spasm, weakness or muscle wasting
- Stumbling on walks
- Discomfort or yelping when putting on or taking off collars or harnesses
- Inability to look up or raise the head
‘Acute’ refers to a symptom your pet may be experiencing that is new or has come on over the course of days or weeks. The injury is considered to be acute when there is active inflammation present resulting in pain and compensatory biomechanics in your pet.
Depending on the age of your pet, their breed, and whether the mechanism of injury is known or not, acute chiropractic care may consist of a short trial of treatments- typically under 4 visits. The goal of acute care is to manage pain and improve the mobility and function of the spine and/or extremities that may be dysfunctional or inflamed. If your pet’s symptoms do not begin to subside within the first 3 treatments, there may be other issues at play and we will recommend a re-evaluation by your veterinarian or other certified rehabilitation specialist.
In contrast to acute care, wellness care refers to the proactive maintenance of pets of varying ages, breeds, and conditions. Some breeds are more pre-disposed to spinal and joint conditions than others.
For instance, the disproportionate anatomy and biomechanics of dachshunds, and the congenital spinal anomalies seen in pugs and french-bulldogs can predispose these breeds to issues down the road. Others may have orthopaedic issues like cruciate ligament laxity, Luxatilng Patella and Hip Dyplasia. Mid-sized breeds that resemble the proportions of their wolf-ancestry may be the most equipped for sustainable biomechanics throughout life. However, these breeds will still experience osteoarthritis(OA) and dysfunctional joint mobility in common problem areas of the spine, namely the thorac-o-lumbar junction and lumb-o-pelvic junction.
As dogs age they experience a physical decline in hind-end strength and mobility. In fact, 80% of joint stability is provided by muscles surrounding and supporting the joint which is why it is paramount to maintain adequate muscular stability. While chiropractic adjustments can ensure adequate nerve supply to the muscles, rehabilitation exercises are crucial for increasing and maintaining muscular strength, endurance and stability.
As part of a comprehensive treatment approach, we will provide instruction of safe rehabilitative strengthening exercises for your dog that can easily be done in the comfort of your own home between appointments. Some dogs may require post-adjustment supervised exercises in-clinic to ensure proper technique and to monitor progress.
Animal Chiro FAQs
There is a large demand for Animal Chiropractic, especially in progressive metropolitan areas like Toronto.
Toronto pet owners are more knowledgable and engaged than ever before when it comes to providing ‘the best life’ for their animals. With this knowledge they are beginning to seek rehabilitative and dietary services that did not exist in the mainstream until recently. With each passing year, especially with Generation X’s and Millennials, more and more people are learning about these options, and more and more animals have the opportunity to live longer healthier lives from the benefits these services can provide.
Animal Chiropractic is a key component in a much larger and exciting Animal Wellness Movement occurring in the animal world today. This progressive movement comprises a large collaborative community of animal wellness practitioners which includes:
- Holistic (or more Naturally-focused) Veterinarians
- Animal Chiropractors (Certified Chiropractors)
- Animal Acupuncture Providers (Certified Veterinarians)
- Animal Physiotherapists (Certified)
- Animal Rehabilitation Specialists (Certified)
- Animal Massage Therapist (Certified)
- Animal Dietary Specialists (Certified)
- Animal Behaviouralists (Certified)
The intervertebral disc (IVD) is the material that separates the vertebra, allowing space for the spinal nerves to pass. IVD’s have a poor blood supply and therefore require proper spinal motion to allow water-based nutrients to diffuse in and out of the disc for nourishment. When the vertebral motion is healthy, the discs are nourished and protected. When the vertebral motion is impaired the IVD can become dehydrated which can lead to calcification and a decrease in size. This the underlying cause of Degenerative Disc Disease.
Chiropractic adjustments maintain proper spinal mobility which acts to preserve proper IVD nourishment and helps to prevent premature degeneration.
While Dr. Landry and Dr. Carruthers will work closely with your veterinarians’ care, a veterinary referral for chiropractic is not necessary.
X-rays of your animals’ spine and/or extremities are not necessary. However, if your veterinarian has previously taken x-rays of your animal, it can be beneficial for us to review them during the initial examination. The majority of current x-rays are digital and can be forwarded to our main clinic email prior to your animals’ initial visit.
The rate of improvement will depend on your animal’s age, current health status, activity level, as well as the length of time and severity of the animal’s condition.
Hip dysplasia is a genetic disorder affecting dogs where the hip joint(s) do not develop properly. In a normal hip joint, the socket of the pelvis is deep enough to accommodate the ball of the femoral head, allowing proper ball and socket joint motion. In hip dysplasia, the hip socket is shallow which causes poor anatomic contact between the ball and socket. This results in abnormal biomechanics and excessive movement within the joint, leading to premature wear and tear and ultimately, degenerative joint disease.
As with all orthopaedic conditions, hip dysplasia varies in severity and is typically graded on a scale from mild to severe. Severe clinical cases may require surgery. Although hip dysplasia cannot be reversed, less severe cases can often be managed with a conservative approach without the need for surgery.
Impaired hip joint motion in animals can often lead to compensatory changes in the thoracic, lumbar, and pelvic areas of the spine. Chiropractic adjustments to the spine, and gentle mobilizations of the hip joints may help ease the symptoms of hip dysplasia.
Cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) injuries are the most common orthopaedic cause of hind-end lameness in dogs. The cranial cruciate ligament, equivalent to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in humans, is a tough band of tissue that restricts excessive movement between the femur and the tibia, the two main bones of the knee.
CCL injuries in dogs are classified as either a partial-tear (ligament still intact) or a full-thickness tear. Since a full thickness tear involves a complete rupture of the ligament, they are not amenable to conservative rehabilitation and will require surgery. Partial thickness tears, on the other hand, may be amenable to a conservative rehabilitation depending on the case and severity of injury.
A conservative approach to managing CCL injuries in dogs can include chiropractic adjustments to reduce pain and address postural compensations, soft-tissue therapy, acupuncture, structured rehabilitation exercises, activity-restriction and nutritional support.
We will work closely with your veterinarian’s recommendations and tailor a treatment plan specific to your pets’ needs.
Yes! Many pet-insurance providers now cover animal chiropractic. If you’re thinking about pet-insurance for your animal, consider selecting a package that includes rehabilitative treatment options like animal chiropractic and animal physical therapy.
The initial exam involves a thorough health history, gait analysis, range of motion testing, and static and motion palpation of the spine and extremities. Treatment includes corrective chiropractic adjustments, soft tissue therapy, stretching & rehab exercise prescription.
Follow-up visits involve a review of the animals’ condition and response to initial treatment to identify any significant changes in their health, attitude and overall performance since initiating care. Corrective chiropractic adjustments, soft tissue treatment, stretching and review of any prescribed exercises encompass the majority of subsequent appointments.
- 50% discount/professional courtesy rate for chiropractors, veterinarians and animal rehabilitation specialists
- 50% discount for shelter animals
- 10% discount for families (pets and owners)
- 30% discount for your next follow-up visit for new patient referrals