How do you know if your pet needs chiropractic care?

How do you know if your pet needs chiropractic care?


How do you know if your pet needs chiropractic care?


Published on April 10, 2017

Dr. Kimberly Hunt

Animal Chiropractor & Rehab Specialist

A dog (Bronx) was brought into my office with low back pain, worse when getting up from laying down. The history of this 8-year-old boxer mix included 2 major falls, several years back. One fall was from a second story window. The other was from a moving vehicle. After each incident, the dog recovered quickly, without medical intervention, and appeared to be fine. Fast forward several years, and those same injuries are rearing their ugly heads as Bronx cries out in pain.

To both their benefit, and their detriment, animals are amazingly resilient. Or at least they appear to be. The truth is, animals hide their injuries through a process called “compensation”. This means they shift weight and walk or sit differently to avoid pain. It’s a built-in survival mechanism since showing pain or weakness can prove fatal in the wild. Unfortunately, animals can compensate for only so long before their body breaks down. Eventually, Bronx was no longer able to compensate and started showing symptoms including difficulty getting up from a seated or laying position, and severe pain with certain movements. His x-rays showed spinal spondylosis at multiple levels (essentially severe arthritis of the spine) and narrowing of the intervertebral foramen which compressed and irritated his spinal nerves (ie: pinched nerves).

Fortunately, with several chiropractic treatments over a couple months, plus home rehab stretches, Bronx made a full recovery. He is now on wellness care with chiropractic visits 3 or 4 times per year to help him maintain his optimal health.

Here’s the unfortunate part of this story…Bronx had to become severely painful and physically compromised before his owners knew he needed help. So how do we avoid this?

  1. Have your pets checked by a certified animal chiropractor at least 2x per year when they are young, and up to 4x per year for older pets, and those pets doing a sport (exp: agility dog, Frisbee dog) or physical job (exp: cattle dog, hunting dog). The chiropractor can find, and fix, structural issues before they become debilitating.
  2. When you see an injury occur, even if your pet seems fine, schedule a chiropractic exam.
  3. If you see any of the following signs or symptoms, get your pet into the chiropractor immediately. Remember, by the time you see symptoms, your pet has likely been compensating for awhile.

*Hesitation to do normal activities such as climbing, jumping up, jumping down, laying down, etc.

*Limping. Limb weakness or inability to walk.

*Difficulty with certain movements such as turning head, lifting head, walking, trotting, running, climbing stairs, jumping, changing positions, getting up from a seated or lying position, slipping on slick floors, squatting, lifting leg, etc.

*Heavy and unusual panting, whining, or crying with certain movements or when being picked up.

*Change in behavior – grumpy, no desire to play, doesn’t want to cuddle, pulls away when you try to touch certain parts of the body.

*Signs of compensation – head held low and/or to one side, shifting weight from back legs to front legs, or from one side to the other, refusing to bear weight on a limb, laying only on one side of the body, arching back up, sitting crooked, etc.

If you have specific questions about this topic, you are welcome to email them: Please allow up to 24 hours for a response.


Disclaimer: This article, and any information provided by Dr. Hunt via website or email correspondence, is not an attempt to diagnose or treat animals. All information and/or comments are based solely on the experience, education, insight and opinion of Dr. Hunt. You should always consult at licensed veterinarian on matters of animal health.

What to Do When the Puppy Comes Home

We have a great post for you today from our guest poster, Sarah. Sometimes, the best way to prepare for a puppy is to get advice from those that have done it before you. Sarah shares her experience in bringing home a puppy to her family and has a few tidbits to hopefully help you!


What to Do When the Puppy Comes Home!

What to Do When the Puppy Comes Home

Our silver lab, Ammo, is now 6 months old. When we brought him home my girls were instantly in love. They had wanted a puppy for a long time and when my husband and I decided to get one, it all seemed to move quickly. I did preparation around the house but the big things; I couldn’t do because we were keeping this a secret from the girls. So my normal planning of talking to my girls about responsibility of having a pet and how we treat our pet happened very shortly after the euphoria of getting him and bringing him home. First thing my kids want to do is hold him and love on him; first thing Ammo wanted to do was run away!

As they are cornering him in the kitchen, I hear the familiar scream of pain from my youngest. Yep! Those puppy teeth chomped down a little too hard. Poor little girl didn’t know why her puppy did that and little puppy didn’t know what he did. It’s hard with kids to get them to understand that this little thing is fragile—they are used to the dogs at their grandparents’ house—a big Labrador that lets them run and play and lay on him. So what did I do as the concerned I-am-going-to-use-this-as-a-teaching-moment Mom? I sat her down and explained that puppies are just playing and they only know how to play with other puppies. You know what I learned—you can’t teach anything about puppy basics to a 2 year old! It was in this moment that I knew my “Hallmark” moment of everything going perfect with new puppy was falling apart right in front of me.
Please don’t get me started on picking up the toys, we told the girls they had to keep everything picked up, that he won’t know that he can’t play with it or chew it up. I am cooking dinner one night when I hear a scream—one of those moments where you are pretty sure no one is hurt but you want to run up and give support but then again what if you really don’t want to see what happened– moments. My oldest beat me to the top of the stairs with tears in her eyes and her Tinkerbell doll—correction, I think it was her Tinkerbell doll, you see Tink was now an armless, one leg, one wing shell of herself—there is no amount of clapping that will bring her back. We had a nice service and nice words were said and then we buried her in the only fitting place—the trashcan in the garage so the carnage wouldn’t be a constant reminder. My daughter got sat down and I tried to redeem myself in a teaching moment. All I heard was that she wanted to get another dog, one that wouldn’t chew up her toys.
Potty training actually went well. We had some accidents but sooner than I expected he learned to go outside. The worst part? As he got bigger so did his well, excrement. And we now have it all over our yard! Oh and our dog does this weird walking thing while he goes so the piles are actually spread around– EVERYWHERE! I always questioned why we needed to pick up after our dog if it was in our own yard. If he goes in relatively the same spot of the yard that part, although green and lush, is always off limits. Well I get it now! I actually passed one of those signs for doggie scooping for $20 bucks a month—I wrote down the number thinking that kid is going to earn his money in our yard! We have become that house which makes you take off your shoes at the door and I have become that mom that sniffs out anything that may be on your shoes. I didn’t think anything to could make me more crazy—never question these things!
We love our Ammo. He is especially loved when my husband is traveling and the girls and I need another set of ears to vet out any unwanted intruders. He does a great job too when it is someone we know at the door; his bark lets them know there is a dog ready to protect his family in this house. The pizza delivery boy has had wide eyes a couple times when Ammo runs at the door. That is until a month or so ago. My husband was gone; it was a beautiful night so I had the window open in the bedroom. I was just getting ready to doze off when I heard the door to the bedroom rattle. Ammo perked his ears up and noticed I was sitting up in bed. I grabbed the closest thing to a weapon that I could find (the bedside lamp) and slowly walked to the door. It rattled again, Ammo stopped then ran to the closet with his tail between his legs. Don’t worry it was just the wind rattling the door, and the lamp is back where it belongs, and the dog– let’s just be glad he has a big bark!
Would I get the dog again? Of course I would! Our house feels complete and he really is a great protector of all of us. My girls still love him even with a few dismemberments of their dolls, the way I see it—survival of the fittest! Ammo sleeps with the girls. I know how gross this is with everything that he has on him, but they love it and I find that with him in there they tend to sleep better (meaning I sleep better) except when he moves off the bed to get in the bathtub where it is cool. My youngest loves to help with feeding him and my oldest is waiting when she can take him on a walk instead of the other way around. So although we hit a few snags it was worth it to remember those smiles on their faces when we first brought him in the door! Hold tight to those Hallmark moments—they make the trying times so much easier!