Yes, you really can take your pet to a chiropractor for treatment, although certified veterinary chiropractors may be difficult to locate in certain regions of the United States. An animal chiropractor provides a number of services similar to those offered by human chiropractors, including spinal manipulations, gait exams and therapeutic massage. Almost all veterinary chiropractors are certified members of the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association, or AVCA.
Many pets are natural athletes, which means they are prone to the same sorts of injuries human athletes experience. When an otherwise healthy pet becomes disabled by a sports injury or other damage to its joints and muscles, an owner may want to take that pet to a chiropractor as an alternative to expensive orthopedic surgery or standard medications with limited effects. An animal chiropractor can study the animal's gait and general posture for indications of a misalignment in the spine. A horse may prefer to walk in one direction, for example, or a dog may develop a pronounced limp on one side.
Veterinary chiropractors are usually licensed veterinarians who have received additional training and certification in animal chiropractic. They use many of the same tools as traditional chiropractors, such as a spring-loaded device which delivers small taps to selected vertebrae. Once the vertebrae have been realigned properly, the nerves and blood vessels surrounding them should begin to function better. This spinal realignment procedure is believed to have a cumulative effect on the rest of the animal's body, including internal organs.
Before you take your pet to a chiropractor, however, there are some things to consider. Animal chiropractic is not designed to replace traditional veterinary care completely. If the animal is in obvious distress or in need of immediate attention, a visit to a traditional veterinarian may be the first course of treatment. The veterinarian may refer owners to a reputable animal chiropractor for rehabilitation purposes or as an alternative to expensive and risky orthopedic surgery.
Because animal chiropractors are in relatively short supply, those who wish to take a pet to a chiropractor may have to drive a significant distance for treatment. It is not uncommon for a veterinary chiropractor to recommend several follow-up adjustments or an ongoing treatment regimen. Certain pets may not be able to withstand the stresses of long-distance travel, and an animal chiropractor's fees are competitive with those of human chiropractors. Many pets do show remarkable recovery following chiropractic adjustments, while others may not derive as much benefit as they would with corrective surgery.
If you happen to live in an area with a certified animal chiropractor, and you believe your pet would benefit from his or her services, then you may want to set up an appointment for a general exam and suggested course of action. The AVCA's website can provide a list of accredited veterinary chiropractors across the United States.