Should My Pet See A Chiropractor?
It's more common than you think.
Don't be fooled by Teddy's pretty face. The dog who stepped into a Toronto chiropractor's office more than six months ago was, by all accounts, a handful.
While Teddy was always the bad boy of the litter - hyper, with a short attention span and an unfortunate tendency to bite - his behavior had reached the point where his family sought a specialist.
Craig Landry, a certified animal chiropractor at Pets in Motion Animal Chiropractic, discovered that Teddy's skull and the first vertebra in his spine weren't properly aligned.
And Landry, who also works on humans, got cracking.
"After his first two adjustments, his body language immediately relaxed and his hyperactivity calmed," the clinic noted on its Facebook page.
Of course, Teddy's story elicited the expected wonder: How could a dog's very personality change after a spinal adjustment?
One reader even remarked, "I wonder if that's what's up with my dog or if she truly is just a nut bag?"
Jokes aside, it raises an important question: Should dogs see a chiropractor?
In theory, any animal with a nervous system, including humans, should benefit from someone who knows how it works.
"The nervous system controls basically every organ, muscle, every bit of skin of the body. If it doesn't do it directly, it does it indirectly through hormones," Paul Rosenberg, lead chiropractor at Pets in Motion, tells The Dodo.
"If you think about from that perspective, if you have a significant problem, how could that not cause a problem? The fact that we do this with dogs is just an extension of that."
But even Rosenberg is quick to point out that at 9 months old, Teddy may have also just done some growing up over the course of his treatment.
He also had plenty of help along the way from a dog training program.
"To be scientifically rigorous, I can't say that we changed his personality," Rosenberg explains. "I can say we adjusted him and he got training and that he then improved."
But it wouldn't be the first time Rosenberg and his colleagues have seen profound changes in their patients.
There was Tiesto, who avoided a third surgery to try to repair a herniated disc - and, instead, started walking again after six chiropractic treatments.
And Timbit, who avoided spinal surgery altogether and managed to reverse the tide of paralysis in his back legs through a chiropractic regimen.
"The base theory of chiropractic is that if your spine isn't functioning properly, if the alignment is out, if movement isn't proper, it can irritate the nerves, or spinal cord, and irritates the brain stem," Rosenberg says.
A stressed-out human. Or dog. Or cat.
Rosenberg, whose father was a prominent Canadian chiropractor also working with animals, has seen them all at the clinic. Veterinary chiropractic centers are becoming increasingly common and better regulated, thanks to the emergence of the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) as a certifying body for the industry.
Even the Nashville Zoo sought the services of a chiropractor last year when one of its famed kangaroos came down with an achy back.
Dr. Karri McCreary, a veterinarian at Vet Ranch, says chiropractors can serve an important role in animal health. And, in fact, veterinary clinics are evolving to include chiropractic care.
"Just make sure the person was trained via an ACVA-approved program and also visit with your veterinarian first to make sure they are no health conditions that preclude the use of chiropractics for your furry family member," McCreary tells The Dodo.
Some veterinarians say the results speak for themselves.
"If it works, it works," Dr. Clay Leathers, a vet at New Hope Animal Hospital in Georgia, tells The Dodo.
Leathers adds that he's seen positive results from chiropractic work on pets.
But a chiropractor is no substitute for a veterinarian. It's vital that you check with a veterinarian before taking your pet to a chiropractor.
There are, however, certain symptoms that may suggest your pet could benefit from specialized care.
"Our biggest warning signs in terms of bringing your pet to a chiropractor are more physical instead of behavioral," Rosenberg says, noting simple signs from a limp to a sudden refusal to climb stairs to seizures.
But some indications do come down to behavior.
"If a dog is normally happy and energetic and well-behaved and all of the sudden the dog becomes reactive, shy or doesn't want to go for walls anymore, it may not be chiropractic but could be veterinary or even social, like a new baby in the house," Rosenberg says. "But if everything else check out normally, to me that becomes a question of perhaps, bringing them to a chiropractor."
Because sometimes, hell has no furry like a spine misaligned.
You can find out more about how your pet could benefit from a chiropractor here.