Chiropractic Care for Dogs

Chiropractic care helps dogs stay well adjusted.

Pembroke Welsh Corgis are normally up-and-at-’em dogs, so when 10-year-old Jasper suddenly balked at climbing stairs, owner Sue Seeber of Wayland, Mass., knew something was wrong. She made an appointment with Randy Caviness, DVM, a veterinary chiropractor in Stow, Mass., she had read about in the newspaper. After taking Jasper’s history, Dr. Caviness, certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association, performed a series of gentle hand manipulations called motion-palpations from head to tail on his backbone.

He noticed the left wing of Jasper’s ilium – the pelvic bone sticking up from either side of the vertebral column – was higher than the right. Cradling one arm around Jasper’s abdomen for support, Dr. Caviness made a couple of adjustments – manual force applied to a specific vertebra, in this case, the vertebra near the base of Jasper’s tail.

“There was a pop that sounded like a champagne cork,” Seeber said. “It startled everyone, including Jasper.”

After the adjustment, the dog’s hip wings were level, and he scampered up the stairs as soon as he got home. “He suddenly had the energy of a dog half his age,” she said. Jasper now receives one or two chiropractic tune-ups a year from Dr. Caviness.

In an ideal world, primary-care veterinarians would team up with animal chiropractors and owners to provide comprehensive health care. It’s beginning to happen. The American Veterinary Medical Association, based in Schaumburg, Ill., issued guidelines for alternative and complementary treatment allowing “licensed chiropractors educated in veterinary chiropractic…to practice this modality under the supervision of, or referral by, a licensed veterinarian who is providing concurrent care.”

The AVCA, based in Hillsdale, Ill., has certified more than 350 veterinarians and chiropractors to treat animals. That number has grown from one when the AVCA was founded 10 years ago.

“The number of highly trained animal chiropractors who know what they’re doing is increasing,” said AVCA founder Sharon Willoughby, DVM, DC (a doctor of human chiropractic), one of the country’s few dual-degreed animal chiropractors. “The veterinary and chiropractic communities are becoming more educated about animal chiropractic and, therefore, more dogs are benefiting from it.”

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