Veterinary Spinal Manipulative Therapy

What is Spinal Manipulative Therapy?

 Chiropractic is the human medicine term for this drug-free approach to your animal’s health care. It deals with restoring and maintaining the relationship between the spine and the nervous system so the pet can regain and maintain its health. The philosophy is that the body has an inherent ability to heal itself. When the spine or other bones are not positioned correctly in relationship to one another they can not move properly which in turn causes abnormal function and then symptoms to occur. This is called a subluxation. The goal of animal spinal manipulative thereapists is to treat subluxations which restores normal nerve function and improves the pets overall health. A subluxation is corrected by fast but low pressure thrust delivered by the hand in the correct positioning for the affected area of the pet.

 An exam with Dr. Whiting includes reviewing any medical or surgical history, taking a thorough history, observing the animals gait and stance, palpating the spine and limbs and then adjusting any subluxations. Large dogs remain standing or lying on a comfortable blanket while small dogs stand or lie on a “chiropractic bale”. For those of you who have had a chiropractic adjustment, the animal adjustment has few to no audible pop sounds and the adjustments appear more subtle.

Is Animal spinal manipulation Safe?

 Spinal manipulation is generally considered to be safe when performed by a trained professional. Temporary low grade discomfort (lasting about 24 hours) can occur in a minority of patients following a treatment. Each pet is unique but most pets should walk for 5-15 minutes (if possible) after a treatment. This allows the body to “reset” itself.

Monty Testimonial: Dr. Hooper’s special little pug Monty gets adjustments and almost immediately after his treatment you can tell he feels better. He walks less stiffly, runs around more freely and also his coat appears shinier!

Who can benifit from these treatments?

Adjustments can be helpful for any age group and for a variety of conditions.

Senior pets may have arthritis and although we cannot cure this condition, we can help with joint movement and pain control.

Puppies go through growth spurts, periods of awkwardness and tend to incur a few “mini traumas” due to their energy level. Whether it is for routine preventative maintenance to achieve optimal health, early intervention after a trauma, or helping to improve their gait, a puppy exam is beneficial.

Athletic dogs, as with people, require optimum structure to perform at a high level and they have less likelihood of an injury if subluxations are treated early.

There are the inevitable incidents that come from just being a dog - like running into a tree while catching a ball or Frisbee, tripping over things, diving off the dock incorrectly! Although the pet seems “fine”, there are usually some subluxations which would benefit from an adjustment. This will help your pet return to their regular function faster.

Early intervention helps stop the further development of changes or compensatory patterns that can lead to muscle spasms, nerve involvement, decreased movement and pain.

Most owners know instinctively that something seems wrong with their pet. However, here are some things to look for:


Sensitive to touch


Stiffness, trouble getting up or down


Abnormal posture- sitting oddly, humped back, etc

Gait issues

Uneven muscle development

Tail issues


Neurological problems


Resents collars, harnesses or clothing being put on/taken off

Behaviour change

Reluctance to move

Disability to climb stairs or jump onto raised areas

Limited performance

Signs of pain when performing certain movements

Animal lies on only one side

Disobedience when jumping

Altered sitting position (so-called “puppy sitting”)

Frightened or painful facial expression

Muscular atrophy

Lick granuloma

Sciatica neuralgia

Undefined lameness

Shortened stride

Decreased range of motion

The back does not swing


Some conditions that may benefit from spinal manipulation therapy being included as part of the treatment plan are:


Hip dysplasia

Muscoskeletal injury or surgery –aids in realignment after compensating due to an injury/surgery

Urinary incontinence

Disc disease/Back Pain

Recurrent Anal Gland Infection

Luxating Patella (floating knee caps)

Post-Surgical rehabilitation