Chiropractic for Animals

Not only can large animals such as horses, cows and elephants be treated with Chiropractic, but of course all small animals such as dogs and cats and any other vertebrate animals.

But how do you understand that a small animal has pain or pathology in the spine? Observation of the behavior by the owner, having the animal constantly close, is of fundamental importance and is often the most suitable person to recognize behavioral alterations that suggest a pathology in the spine.

Back pain symptoms in small animals

The first manifestation of back pain may be reluctance to have your back caressed especially at the bottom of the sacrum. Even a docile animal can go beyond the classic cai-cai and turn up to growl to warn the owner of a back or cervical pain.

In more serious cases the animal will take analgesic attitudes, often of kyphosis to compensate for the pain, that is, it will walk with the back bent upwards and the abdomen portrait. These attitudes can be easily mistaken for abdominal pain or abdominal pain, in these cases it is always necessary to exclude a back pain to make an adequate diagnosis.

The dog may also be reluctant to walk, to stop in the usual walk, indeed sometimes even to try to go back. Stairs can also become an obstacle, as can jumping into the car. Even spending many hours in his kennel without a great desire to go out can lead to pain, especially when the animal has difficulty getting up, yelping as he gets up or limps visibly for the first steps. Typical of a back pain is when the animal sits crooked, that is, puts all the weight on one back and the other is held rigid and sideways.

Of course, it is easier to see these attitudes in the older animal, but even the young animal can experience, with the same symptoms, discomfort or pain in the spine. He can be even more restless and sometimes even change his character from good to suspicious and become nervous or agitated.

Factors predisposing to pathologies of the spine

Any major trauma can predispose the animal to back pathologies. Each animal should be checked by a Chiropractor after vehicle accidents, even if the animal at the moment seems unharmed, the trauma can occur after some time as it also happens in humans.

Experience shows that when a dog is attacked by another of a larger size, the cervical spine can be damaged, as the attacked dog is often grabbed by the neck. I have seen cases where the dog was instantly paralyzed or where severe pain in the cervical spine occurred months after the attack.

In the abandoned or abused animal, back pain can result from kicks or beatings suffered. After some time, the results of these traumas become manifest with arthritic alterations of the vertebral column, which are also visible on a radiological level and can significantly compromise the health of the animal. Chiropractic in these cases offers excellent prevention of the degeneration of these pathologies.

Another predisposing factor is the indiscriminate use of the neck collar which can cause constant microtraumas to the cervical spine. Young, large and exuberant animals can damage the column of a quieter or older animal due to a slightly too violent game with repeated jumps in the back.

Working dogs, for example hunting dogs, agility or defense dogs are to be considered real athletes and can suffer stress trauma or training microtraumas. To keep the athlete dog healthy, chiropractic treatment at regular intervals would be the best prevention to maintain excellent health.

Chiropractic can greatly help keep an elderly animal healthy for as long as possible. A major problem in the elderly dog ​​is the loss of strength in the hind limbs which may be due to neurodegenerative phenomena or vertebral subluxations. In the second case, with chiropractic treatment, the strength of the hind limbs is maintained for as long as possible and with this the self-sufficiency of the animal. The vertebral column is more elastic and the pain from arthritic phenomena of the column decreases, giving the older animal greater desire to live and move.


In the animal, lameness can develop both in the front or rear limbs, which are not caused by a pathology of the limbs such as ligament, OCD or meniscal rupture, but by subluxations of the cervical or lumbar vertebrae. As humans develop pain in the arms or pain in the sciatic nerve, animals also develop lameness. Here with traditional medicine, a diagnosis cannot be made as there are no signs of an ongoing joint pathology. In these cases chiropractic treatment can resolve the cause of lameness with a realignment of the cervical or lumbar spine as appropriate.

Lameness can also result from sprains of the limbs, which occur due to falls, twists, playing, sliding etc. After these traumas, the joint involved is no longer physiologically aligned and the animal experiences immediate pain as it also occurs in humans. A realignment of the joint involved not only removes pain, but allows the joint to heal and restore full functionality without running the risk of recurrence or future osteoarthritis.

Paresis or paralysis

Unlike the large animal where paresis or paralysis of the limbs are rather rare, in the small animal they are seen with a certain frequency. A disc disease is often the basis. They are seen in the so-called “chondrodystrophic” breeds for example Dachshunds, Boxers etc. In these breeds, early disc degeneration occurs and even in the relatively young animal, pain syndromes or even paresis or paralysis from disc pathologies can develop. Chiropractic treatment can both prevent a disc disease, but the animal can also be treated, as in humans, when the disc disease is in progress.

Sometimes before reaching paresis / complete paralysis the animal may have short episodes of paresis in the hind limbs, i.e. loss of the strength to support the weight, while maintaining the mobility of the limbs. Treatment immediately after or during these acute episodes can prevent more severe paresis or paralysis.

Even direct trauma to the spine can cause a disc herniation. Animals with this type of pathology have been successfully treated with Chiropractic avoiding surgery. Sometimes surgery is contraindicated for intrinsic pathologies of the animal such as cardiac pathologies or because the reason for the paresis / paralysis was not highlighted with the diagnostic investigations. Chiropractic treatment in these cases is always a viable alternative. Of course, close collaboration between the veterinarian and the chiropractor is always desirable for a correct differential diagnosis as paresis or paralysis in the small animal can have various origins, including e.g. thromboembolic, neoplastic etc. to give the animal the correct treatment. Aggressions by larger dogs often cause violent trauma to the cervical spine with consequent paresis / paralysis of all 4 limbs. Accidents with vehicles can cause paresis / paralysis in both the front and hind limbs. Of course the more recent the trauma the faster the recovery can be. The desire of animals to recover their ability to walk is truly extraordinary and moving.

The Animal Chiropractic service is available in all our clinics in Italian, French and English

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How to recognize if my pet needs chiropractic care

Reluctance to move
Pain signals
Hypersensitivity 'to the touch
Limp or slow walk
Nails used asymmetrically

How Many Treatments Do You Usually Need?

If there is a subluxation, the segment that does not move as it should, will be manually adjusted, restoring mobility in the joint. Most animals already experience immediate benefit after treatment. An acute problem usually responds to treatment very quickly, while chronic problems usually require multiple treatments.
Animals with chronic problems (arthrosis, hip dysplasia or spondylosis), where movement restriction occurs due to disease, respond very well to treatments for maintaining general health, based on 2 to 6 treatments per month.

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