By Dr. Chelsey Michelsen

Veterinary Chiropractic & Rehab, VetChiroAndRehab.com

Animal chiropractic adjustments do what human chiropractic adjustments do: correct subluxations to restore motion to the body and improve overall function. Animal chiropractors help restore the body’s ability to function as optimally as possible. The word “subluxation” refers primarily to a vertebra that is no longer in proper position in relation to the vertebrae before and after it, but not as severe as a luxation. A miniscule change in position can cause impingement of nerves, decreased circulation of blood and lymph, a restriction in motion, muscle tightness, inflammation, and pain, especially over time. A chiropractic adjustment realigns the vertebrae. Limb joints can also be adjusted if needed. 

Subluxations occur throughout life in every being with a spine, for a multitude of reasons, so chiropractic adjustments are most beneficial when done regularly. Adjusting pets early in life promotes proper musculoskeletal development, and adjusting pets throughout life can keep them healthier and moving better into their golden years, as well as help them recover faster from any injuries they incur along the way. Chiropractic adjustments result in better circulation to tissues, better lymph circulation throughout the body with improved immune function, improved nerve conduction throughout the body (which can also improve respiratory, gastrointestinal, and reproductive function), better movement, and decreased pain and inflammation, so the pet feels and moves better. An animal chiropractor will work with pet owners to find the appropriate treatment frequency for each pet. 

To become certified in animal chiropractic, a licensed human chiropractor or veterinarian must complete an animal chiropractic course. There are several animal chiropractor programs offered around the United States, with two located in Texas. These programs take several months to complete, with a certificate issued upon completion. Once a practitioner has a certificate in animal chiropractic, they can choose to obtain additional certification through the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA), or the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association (IVCA), depending on where they are practicing professionally. The AVCA is the primary credentialing organization for North America, and offers a certification test once per year. Animal chiropractors seeking AVCA certification must pass both an extensive written and hands-on practical to become AVCA certified, and maintain their certification thereafter by meeting the AVCA continuing education requirements. Furthermore, in the state of Texas, licensed human chiropractors that are certified in animal chiropractic can only treat pets with a referral from a veterinarian. 

Which pets should receive chiropractic adjustments? Almost every pet! If your pet has a spine, they can benefit from chiropractic adjustments! (Fish, amphibians, reptiles, and some exotics may be a bit difficult to do). From the general well-being of pets and helping sport and working animals improve their performance, to facilitating recovery from illness and injury, chiropractic adjustments should be integrated into your pet’s health care plan.