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Michael Dym, V.M.D.
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How Pets Can Benefit From Chiropractic Adjustments

Chiropractic care has evolved from an alternative therapy to a mainstream treatment option that’s becoming increasingly popular for cats and dogs. Not only can it help your pet recover from an injury or heal more quickly after surgery, it can also help prevent pain before it happens. What’s more, a chiropractor can help treat a health condition that seems totally unrelated to your pet’s spine. If you’re considering chiropractic therapy for your pet, here’s what you need to know.

How Does Chiropractic Adjustment Work?
You may be referred to an animal chiropractor by your veterinarian, or you may choose to seek one on your own from the AVCA or VOMTech. Upon your pet’s first appointment, they may have already undergone an x-ray with their regular veterinarian, or the chiropractor may perform one as part of their assessment.
During the assessment, the chiropractor looks for spinal subluxations. A subluxation is a slight misalignment of the vertebrae. In some pets, a subluxation can manifest as pain or stiffness in the back or limbs, and it can also be attributed to symptoms that affect other parts of the body. Urinary incontinence, digestive issues, kidney or liver disease, asthma, and even anxiety have been successfully treated with chiropractic adjustment.
Chiropractic adjustment is also sometimes used as a preventative in pets that participate in high-impact sports and activities, as well as those prone to spinal issues, for example, German Shepherds, Manx cats, and Dachshunds.

What is VOM?
Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation (VOM), is a therapy that’s similar to chiropractic adjustment, but it’s considered to be a separate practice all its own. VOM uses a hand-held device called a spinal accelerometer. A spinal accelerometer detects subluxations by assessing pathological reflexes, similar to a knee-jerk reaction. The practitioner then uses the device to apply pressure to adjust points along the spine associated with your pet’s specific subluxations.
VOM may be more accurate and more successful than manual chiropractic adjustment. The spinal accelerometer is used to both detect and adjust subluxations along the spine. It applies a higher level of pressure accurately and more quickly than manual methods.

What Conditions Does Veterinary Chiropractic Adjustment Help Treat?
Chiropractic adjustment is most successful at treating back pain and lameness. It’s often recommended by veterinarians for pets that are recovering from surgery or injury. However, it also can help treat a wide variety of ailments throughout the body.
The use of chiropractic adjustment to treat health conditions not directly related to the spine and central nervous system is controversial. It has not been widely studied, though there are many case studies of animals recovering from health conditions with the help of chiropractic adjustment.
A subluxation can interrupt the passage of hormones and neurotransmitters through the nervous system, and can also affect blood flow to different organs throughout the body. In these cases, pets can see improvement when chiropractic adjustment is used in combination with other treatments.

Is Chiropractic Adjustment Safe For Pets?
Your pet will experience little to no pain during a chiropractic adjustment. It may feel really good. They may feel some pressure, and may pet owners report their pet seeming sore or sleepy for the rest of the day. This is because the muscles will need to adjust to the change in the spine’s position. Positive results can kick in immediately, but may take 1-3 treatments to appear.

How To Find A Pet Chiropractor
Some pet chiropractors are veterinarians who have studied chiropractic therapy, while others are human chiropractors who have studied veterinary chiropractic techniques. It’s best to make an appointment with your regular veterinarian first to rule out any possible underlying causes of your pet’s pain or discomfort, then ask for a referral. Chiropractic adjustment is best used in conjunction with other therapies and conventional medicine, though it can sometimes reduce or eliminate the need for pharmaceuticals and surgery.