Chiropractic for Animals
What is chiropractic treatment?
There are various manipulative therapies that can be used to help promote your animal's health - Chiropractic being just one form. Chiropractic treatment addresses problems stemming from imbalances in the following three systems:
- THE SKELETAL SYSTEM AND JOINTS OF THE BODY: Bones and joints form a flexible structure designed to provide pain-free movement when in normal health and alignment.
- THE MUSCULAR SYSTEM: Healthy muscles allow the joints to move freely. Healthy muscles are free of spasm, weakness, pain, knots, or degenerative changes.
- THE NERVOUS SYSTEM: Nerves are the electrical wires of the body. They "direct" the functions of the body controlling the flow of communication between the brain and all areas of the body. Reduced performance levels and pain may result from pinched nerves. This can quickly lead to a state of poor health.
Perhaps the most well known form of Chiropractic treatment is 'McTimoney Chiropractic', this was named after John McTimoney who developed his own form of treatment and began teaching it in 1972.
Chiropractic literally translated means 'done by hand'. The aims are to treat causes rather than symptoms, the principle is that many disturbances to the nervous system result from misalignment of bones of the spine and other parts of the body. These are believed to be at least a contributory factor in the pathological process of many common human and animal ailments. A qualified Chiropractor usually considers that periodic treatments are worthwhile on a preventative basis to avoid incipient problems.
Using animal chiropractic treatment
Most animals will readily accept treatment, and chiropractic or animal manipulation techniques can help many animals (most commonly horses, dogs and cats), in a range of situations including where there is:
- Reluctance to exercise or reduction in performance
- Stiffness or pain after exercise
- Unlevelness - especially behind
- Difficulty climbing stairs or getting into cars (for dogs!)
- Stiffness on one rein or disunited canter (for horses!)
How long will a session last and how many sessions are needed?
A treatment session will typically last between 20-40 minutes - with the initial consultation session possibly taking longer. The exact length will depend upon the individual animal and the veterinary chiropractors assessment.
Most dogs or horses will show some improvement after 1-3 treatments however, it will often vary according to the problem and the animal. The therapist will advise you on how best to look after your animal following a chiropractic session - in some circumstances it maybe necessary to have a comprehensive exercise and rehabilitation programme for your animal, which your therapist may help to devise.
When is Chiropractic not suitable for your animal?
Please note that Chiropractic treatment may not be appropriate in the following circumstances:
- Immediately following surgery. It is important to let the animal heal for at least a week after a minor surgery and two weeks after a major surgery before performing an adjustment and then only in exceptional cases with your Vet's approval.
- In cases where a fracture or major dislocation is suspected.
- Where the stress of being adjusted outweigh the possible benefits, such as when animals that are extremely anxious or aggressive and may not reap the benefit of the treatment.
- Animals who are under heavy sedation or anaesthesia. Damage may occur to the animal's structures while sedated.
Choosing an animal chiropractor
Here's some points you could take into account when choosing chiropractic for your animal:
In the UK, no-one may use the title 'Chiropractor' unless they are registered with the General Chiropractic Council (GCC). The GCC sets exacting standards, so as to ensure that registered chiropractors are competent to practise.
Look to see if your animal chiropractor is also a member of the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association (IVCA). Members of the IVCA must either be a registered veterinarian or chiropractor (so registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons or General Chiropractic Council). In addition members must also complete the IVCA approved courses and continuing professional development requirements.
You can also see where your Chiropractor trained. There are several training centres/colleges around the world, which offer courses that are accredited by the IVCA (mentioned in point 2), or by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA).
One of the most well known in Europe, is the International Academy of Veterinary Chiropractic (IAVC).
You can also check to see if your Chiropractor trained at one of the other IVCA or AVCA accredited centres, by looking at their respective websites for a list of these centres, (click on their names to go direct to their sites).
Following several years of campaigning and research, a new professional voluntary register has now been established. The Register of Animal Musculoskeletal Practitioners (RAMP) is designed to help ensure that the public can confidently choose a professionally qualified therapist for their animal. Take a look at the 'RAMP' website at http://www.rampregister.org.
Training as an animal chiropractor
Visit our training advice page here for information on how you could train as a Chiropractor for animals.
What about Mctimoney-Corley animal manipulation?
McTimoney-Corley Equine Manipulation is a therapy that has evolved from chiropractic techniques and maybe of interest to you, for you to help promote your animal's wellbeing. However, as the McTimoney-Corley qualification is an 'animal manipulation' course, graduates of this cannot register with the General Chiropractic Council and therefore cannot call themselves chiropractors.
Remember, before contacting a Chiropractor (or any complementary therapist for animals!) - always contact your Veterinary Surgeon for permission and advice first. You should find that many animal insurance companies will now pay for chiropractic treatment where it is recommended by your Veterinary Surgeon.
Would you like information on Chiropractors near you for your animal? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org - we'll be pleased to try and assist, wherever you are in the world!