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Are Dog Chiropractors for Real?

Human chiropractors are slammed by scrutiny — where does that leave the ones who bend and crack pooches?

Chiropractors sure are controversial, and watching one adjust a nervous dog on YouTube can certainly spur some questions. Are dog chiropractors legit? What do dog chiropractic adjustments look like? And most importantly, does dog chiropractic work? Certified animal chiropractor Andi Harper helped crack our concerns.

What Ailments Can Dog Chiropractors Help Alleviate?

Mostly conditions caused by neurologic or biomechanical issues. “It runs the gamut,” Harper says. “Anything that could possibly be musculoskeletal related. Animals have bones, muscles and joints, just like people, and respond/require the same care as a person would require from a chiropractor. I get this question a lot and my usual response is, ‘What do you see your chiropractor for?’ That’s what your animal should see a chiropractor for.”

When Should You Consider Taking Your Pup to a Dog Chiropractor?

“I would absolutely love it if an animal was adjusted three to five times a year, even if, and especially if, they’re symptom-free,” says Harper. “Chiropractic care keeps the neurological system healthy and ‘talking’ at an optimal level. Now, that doesn’t happen very often, so at the bare minimal, when you see limping, when you do notice behavior changes, such as hesitating to get into the car, onto the furniture, starting to drag behind on a walk, not [being] as interested in playing with other dogs, after a dental exam, after knee surgery, after any surgery. A lot of pet parents look to chiropractic care in addition to conventional veterinary care to reduce or eliminate the need for long-term pain medications.”

Is Dog Chiropractic Any Different From Human Chiropractic?

“At its core, it’s not different,” Harper explains. “As animal chiropractors, we use a quick thrust via hands or tools to stimulate the nervous system to help the body heal itself. Now, because animals are on all fours, the adjustments will look different, and so far, I haven’t had any luck getting animals to lie still, face down on a table. So, most work is done following the dogs around into different positions, and of course, horses are standing.”

How Can I Expect My Pooch to React to a Dog Chiropractic Adjustment?

“The vast majority of animals do really well and are generally cooperative,” Harper says. “This does depend on personality and pain level at the time of visit.”

Keep in mind, however, that much like human chiropractic, dog chiropractic can result in some side effects. Your pup may want to spend the remainder of the day resting, or they might feel a little sore for the next day or so.

My Friend Told Me Chiropractors Are Quacks. Does Dog Chiropractic Work?

Harper has a message for chiropractic skeptics: “As a doctor of chiropractic and a certified animal chiropractor, I’ve gone through four years of medical school learning how to deliver adjustments, plus a 250-hour course on how to work with animals.”

“I get to participate in miracles everyday,” she continues. But that doesn’t necessarily mean dog chiropractic in and of itself is a miracle cure. “Everybody is different, and as much as I’d love to guarantee chiropractic care is the answer for your dog, you’ll have to go and give it a whirl. As certified animal chiropractors, we didn’t take a weekend course and start ‘banging’ on animals; we’re trained and educated, and a serious subset of animal professionals that do our very best to contribute to you and your animal’s health and well-being.”

As far as the science is concerned, Veterinary Practice reports, “Animal chiropractic research is still very limited, but indicates that there is a positive effect.”

Nonetheless, if you still have doubts, feel free to discuss dog chiropractic — and other options — with your veterinarian. And if you think dog chiropractic adjustments are right for your pooch, you can find a certified dog chiropractor through the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association.

Also, uh, maybe ease up on the YouTube for a while?