Wednesday, October 24, 2007

First Experience With Animal Chiropractic

(Contributed by Lori Whitwam)

We recently added a fantastic new doctor to our staff. Dr. Cara White has experience with holistic medicine, has particular knowledge of herbal medicine, and is a Certified Veterinary Spinal Manipulative Therapist. What is that?! In language that those of us who are not doctors would use, she practices Animal Chiropractic care. I’ve been excited to have her skills and energy added to our practice, and I’ve been particularly glad to have the opportunity to learn a bit about Animal Chiropractic.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I have a 14 year old golden retriever, Sprocket. While we’ve been very lucky that he hasn’t spent his senior years battling debilitating hip dysplasia as many other goldens have, he has definitely experienced a lot of age-related changes. With Dr. White on our staff, I quickly took advantage of her expertise to evaluate my sweet old boy.

I have been amazed to learn the wide range of illnesses and conditions that can be helped with chiropractic care! I knew that aching, painful joints and various musculoskeletal injuries would respond to chiropractic adjustments. But at a recent staff meeting, Dr. White told us that since the spinal cord is contained within the spinal column, and that all nerves radiate from that space, any spinal abnormalities would affect those nerves and can affect all the body’s systems. A chronic anal gland problem could stem from the associated nerves being compromised because of a misalignment somewhere you would never think of in relation to anal glands! The same principle applies to kidney, bladder and digestive problems, just to name a few. In addition, a slight misalignment or subluxation in one location of the body is going to cause the body to compensate for that, creating further misalignments throughout the body.

When Dr. White did Sprocket’s initial evaluation and adjustment, I learned things about him that I’d never even considered before. He had good range of motion in his hips (for a 14 year old), but his pelvis has almost no movement. I had never thought of the pelvis being particularly moveable! I associated “pelvis” with “hips”, with the hips being the moving part and the pelvis being more of a big frame to hold it all. But (imagine my surprise) the pelvis is supposed to move in a wide variety of ways! The areas that needed adjustment extended from his tail, to his toes, to his pelvis and spine, to his shoulders, and to his neck and jaw.

In the six months prior to his appointment, Sprocket had stopped using any stairs at all. He hadn’t even attempted the six or seven stairs up to our entry way, requiring him to be carried, or at least assisted with a towel around his belly. The three steps up onto the deck at the cabin where we spent a little time this summer were too much for him. When he and I got home from work the day of his adjustment, he hesitated at the entry way stairs, and then went up them unassisted for the first time in months! In the weeks since then, he has been consistently brighter, more alert and energetic, more frisky and playful, and has an easier time rising from the floor. I can tell he is much more comfortable than he has been in a long time.

He has had one follow-up adjustment since then, and will continue to have them about once a month. Just as you can’t trim your hedges or clean your kitchen once and have them stay that way forever, chiropractic care does require maintenance. My dog’s aging body has changes going on all the time that cause changes throughout his body, so we’ll continue to address those.

I’m grateful that I’ve been exposed to Animal Chiropractic. I feed my dogs well, use the right supplements, and manage their weight, and those are things that all pet owners can do. But now I have a way to help manage the discomfort and mobility problems that Sprocket is experiencing, with no drugs or surgery. I know that we’ve added quality, comfortable, active time to his life without any painful, invasive procedures.

So, who needs chiropractic care? The answer to that is almost every pet can benefit! My son has a 2 ½ year old 11-pound lhasa-poo who has a bad knee, and he will soon be getting his first adjustment. Have you noticed that your dog is holding his tail or neck oddly? Is it taking him longer to get up after lying down? Is he having difficulty eating or chewing? Have you noticed changes in his gait? Do you have a hunting, working or competition dog that seems to be slowing down? Chances are good that chiropractic care can help.

I had been to a chiropractor a few times myself, but I had had no experience with the same care for my dogs until recently. Now I have seen the results in my own dog and just had to share that experience so that others are aware that this option is available to help their beloved pets.