Chiropractic for dogs

If you see any change in the behaviour of your dog and you’re not sure, then contact me to discuss.

Why do dogs benefit from Chiropractic treatment?

The health and well being of our dogs is affected by many factors ranging from day- to-day stresses such as boisterous play, training and competitions to traumatic events such as falls and car accidents. In addition age, handling and lifestyle can also play an important role in our dogs’ state of health. All of these physical stresses can cause abnormal or restricted movements and loss of flexibility in the joints of the spine and limbs resulting in pain, stiffness, changes in behaviour and decreased movement or performance. In turn these changes can cause further stress on other joints and muscles that have to work harder to compensate for the original problem.

How do I know if my dog may benefit from Chiropractic treatment?

The most common presenting symptom in dogs when something is wrong is pain. This is often expressed in changes in behaviour, posture, gait or performance.  Even without the presence of pain restrictions in the spine can affect muscle co-ordination and spinal mobility impacting the dog’s quality of life. Here are some common symptoms…

Common symptoms in dogs

  • Pain
  • Reduced or limited performance
  • Reluctance to move, climb stairs or jump into the car
  • Abnormal posture or gait
  • Deterioration in performance
  • Puppy Sitting
  • Unsteadiness in standing
  • Hypersensitivity to touch
  • Reluctance to being groomed
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Lying on one side only
  • Yelping when performing certain movements
  • Undefined lameness or slowness in moving
  • Carrying the tail to one side

Owners are usually able to pick up on some of the more subtle changes as they know an individual dog’s normal behaviour.

If you see any change in the behaviour or movement of your dog and you’re not sure, then contact me to discuss.

Other possible symptoms

In any problem concerning the spine the nervous system is involved. The flow of information from the nerves which exit the spinal cord between each vertebra is disrupted and can cause other symptoms as these nerves innervate the skin, glands, organs and blood vessels. Other symptoms may include:

  • Lick granulomas on leg or paws
  • Recurrent digestive problems
  • Recurrent ear or anal gland infections
  • Dripping urine or the inability to hold faeces

Common causes in dogs

Over a period of time every day activities and general wear and tear as well as accidents and trauma can cause restrictions to the spine and the development of abnormal movement. Here are some common causes………

  • Trauma due to accident or rough play
  • Lack of exercise or over exercise
  • Transportation for long distance e.g. show dogs
  • Competition causing repetitive stress e.g. agility dogs, greyhounds
  • Age
  • Conformation e.g. dogs with long backs or high head carriage
  • Restraints e.g. muscles and leads that have been incorrectly fitted or inappropriately used
  • Birthing difficulties

Assessment: How does the Animal Chiropractor assess what is wrong with my dog?

Animal Chiropractic evaluates back and joint problems and is effective in the treatment of both acute and chronic biomechanical related musculoskeletal disorders.

Animal Chiropractors identify Vertebral Subluxation Complexes (VSCs). These are areas of the spine with reduced or abnormal mobility and loss of normal flexibility resulting in stiffness, muscle tension, pain and reduced performance. This reduced mobility between two vertebrae can affect the spinal nerves that exit either side of the spine between the vertebrae, leading to an interrupted flow of information that may cause poor coordination and dysfunction to the vital organs. A dog will alter its posture to compensate for the restricted mobility of the spine and in order to avoid further pain or discomfort. This is in turn causes increased mechanical stress on other parts of the spine and the extremity joints which may lead to secondary restrictions.

Having identified one or more subluxations the Animal Chiropractor aims to correct the misalignment of the spine and restore mobility to the facet joints.

An adjustment is made by using a quick, short thrust along the plane of the joint. The adjustment is a very specific, high speed, low force thrust that moves the affected joint within its normal range of movement.

Treatment: How will the Animal Chiropractor treat my dog?

Before the first assessment I will contact your Veterinary Surgeon. Chiropractors (and all other practitioners working on animals) are required by law to obtain Veterinary permission before treating an animal. This is for the protection of your dog by ensuring that the treatment your animal receives does not contradict current Veterinary care, prescribed medication or endanger the health of your animal.  I have a good working relationship with many Veterinary practices in the area and the majority are happy to endorse Chiropractic as a complementary form of treatment.

When I first meet you I will ask you about the dog’s past and present Veterinary care and medication, the current problem or symptoms and your concerns. I will also ask you about the animal’s lifestyle, diet and exercise routine and observe your dog at rest and moving to assess his posture, gait and behaviour. At this stage and throughout the assessment process I am happy to answer questions about my findings and proposed treatment.

The dog is then examined using my hands to assess for pain, skin temperature anomalies, skeletal misalignments and changes in muscle tone. After this initial assessment I will make a more detailed examination of the individual joints of the spine and limbs using motion palpation to establish if there are areas where abnormal movement is present (Vertebral Subluxation Complex).

Following the assessment I will tell you whether I believe chiropractic is appropriate care for your dog or whether he needs to be referred back to your Veterinary Surgeon or another specialist. If I believe chiropractic is suitable I will treat your dog with your consent.

What can I do with my dog after treatment?

After treatment 24 to 48 hours rest and relaxation is recommended with limited exercise to allow the dog’s body to recover and for the healing process to begin.  Often dogs are very tired after treatment and need time to recuperate.  After this a few days of restricted exercise is appropriate before gradually returning to the dog’s normal routine.

In addition, I would recommend that you do not allow the dog to jump into and out of cars, onto and off sofas or beds and beware of slippery, laminate or stone floors.

How many treatments will my dog need?

The number of treatments required depends on the individual dog. In most cases a single treatment is not enough to eliminate the problem. The goal of Chiropractic treatment is to address neurological dysfunction of the spine and restore mobility to the joints. Subsequently it is the role of muscles and ligaments to support the spine and maintain this new re-aligned position. Adjustments to the spine may need to be done a number of times until the body accepts this as a normal position and the muscles and ligaments can support and maintain this. The majority of dogs show significant improvement after one to four treatments. Chronic problems usually take longer to resolve whereas acute problems will often respond quicker. Dogs that are working hard or competing often benefit from regular treatment to prevent problems recurring or new ones presenting themselves.

What else can I do to help my dog?

Health care should be high on the agenda of any dog owner. The correct functioning of the back and neck is vital in maintaining a dog’s health and performance. In order to prevent problems building up there are several ways you can help your dog.

Conformation and build

Choose the type of dog for the job you want it to do so that the animal is not predisposed to undue strain.


Regular massage helps to increase circulation and maintain healthy muscle.


In competition and working dogs a variety in the type of training plus appropriate warm up and cool down will help develop a strong spine and even muscle tone.


Ensure that training aids are correctly fitted and that you know how to use them. Incorrect fitting or use can cause pressure points, joint restrictions and compensatory movement patterns.

Feet and nails

Keep nails clipped short as long nails can alter the foot balance and cause compensatory movement patterns.