Is a Chiropractor Good for Dogs?

When conventional methods such as weight reduction or pain medication have failed to resolve your dog’s symptoms, the veterinarian may recommend a dog chiropractor to help ease the discomfort.

Referring dogs to be treated by a dog chiropractor is becoming more widely accepted by veterinarians across the globe, but is a chiropractor good for dogs? The realization that alternative medicine, in conjunction with conventional medicine, can offer significant benefits to the patient is becoming more commonplace. Dogs, like humans, respond well to chiropractic adjustments and treatments to help reduce pain as well as prevent the progression of many musculoskeletal conditions. 

Brown and white dog wearing an Elizabethan collar,
It’s becoming more common for vets to refer dogs to a dog chiropractor to help ease discomfort.
( Photo: Canva Pictures)


Symptoms Indicating That Your Dog May Need a Chiropractor

One of the earliest signs that your dog is experiencing discomfort is when they begin to have mobility issues. Daily walks may become very slow, or a limp may develop. Games like fetch or frisbee, that your dog once loved may not be of any interest to them, and the simple tasks of getting up from the floor could seem like a slow and difficult process.

Some indicators may be a bit more subtle. When laying down you may notice that your dog is licking or biting at their paws. Some struggle to sleep. They become restless and change positions frequently. This is because the pain they are experiencing in one position can be temporarily relieved when they shift the pressure from one side to the other. When they awaken, you may find that they stretch more than they did before as the joints are becoming stiff. 

Medical Reasons Why Your Dog Might Need to See a Chiropractor

When conventional methods such as weight reduction or pain medication have failed to resolve any of the above issues, your veterinarian may recommend a dog chiropractor to help ease the discomfort. Some of the most common medical conditions that result in a referral to the dog chiropractor are:  

  • Degenerative Disc Disease 
  • Hip Dysplasia 
  • Osteoarthritis 
  • Surgical Recovery 
  • Senior dogs with mobility issues
  • Incontinence 
  • Pregnancy and delivery
Black and brown Dachshund standing in the grass on a leash.
Long-bodied, short-legged breeds are prone to hip dysplasia due to the continuous pressure on their hips. (Photo: Canva Pictures)

Short-legged dog breeds including Dachshunds, Corgis, French and English Bulldogs as well as Basset Hounds often require chiropractic care for hip dysplasia and/or spinal issues. This is generally caused by their physical makeup causing pressure on the back and hip joint. Larger breeds, including Great Danes, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Mastiffs, and Saint Bernards also tend to suffer from hip dysplasia.  With the larger breeds, their weight adds pressure to the hip joint.  The physical impact of running and jumping can also cause pressure in the hips, resulting in dysplasia.

Black Great Dane staring off in the distance.
Great Danes are prone to hip dysplasia due to their size and active nature.   (Photo: M. Shea)

Are Veterinarians Qualified to be Dog Chiropractors?

Dog chiropractors are human chiropractors with additional written and practical education credentials that allow them to work on animals. Not all veterinarians are qualified to perform chiropractic treatments. If your vet feels that chiropractic care would be beneficial to your pet’s well-being, they will provide a referral to a qualified professional. If you are looking for a chiropractor on your own, be sure to check the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association or the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association for a list of reputable animal chiropractors in your area.

What Does the Dog Chiropractor Do at Each Visit?

Your first visit will involve a physical assessment. The chiropractor will look at the source of the dog’s discomfort and try to determine the severity of the condition. If your dog was referred by a vet, the assessment will include a review of the medical history provided by the referring vet. This will help to evaluate the dog’s current state. Depending on what they discover in the exam and what conditions are suspected, they may order x-rays or an MRI to confirm their suspicions. Many times, the dog will only need one alignment to reset the affected area, and it will be done during the initial visit. In some situations, it can take a series of adjustments or treatments to completely correct the source of the pain.

Mature English Bull Dog playing with yellow ball
Chiropractic care can improve mobility in older dogs.       (Photo: Canva Pictures)

Benefits of Taking Your Dog to a Dog Chiropractor:

When your dog receives chiropractic care, many common pain-related issues can be overcome. Mobility Issues are reduced or removed, and the dog will often be able to return to their normal activities. Chronic pain caused by hip dysplasia, disc disease, or osteoarthritis can be managed or eliminated, and it improves the quality of life as joints become weak for your aging pet.

There are practices to facilitate the recovery process after certain surgeries, resulting in reduced pain and a speedier return to “normal”. There are times when the sooner your dog is able to move around, the faster the body will respond and heal. Chiropractic care can even ease the effects of pregnancy. Adjustments and/or spinal manipulation can help with pain and discomfort caused by the increasing pressure and weight on the spine as the puppies grow. 

There are specific procedures that can reduce the likelihood of delivery issues. By helping to prevent stretching of the ligaments that surround the uterus, the uterus maintains its proper shape. Having these pain points addressed and monitored will make the delivery smoother. This will prevent excessive stress on the mother and the pups.

Golden Retriever Standing in yellow fall leaves.
Breeds that are predisposed or prone to hip dysplasia, spinal issues, or disc degeneration
might benefit from having pet insurance coverage. (Photo: M. Shea)

What is the Cost of Chiropractic Care for Dogs?

Dog chiropractors in the USA generally charge between $50.00 and $250.00 per visit. Often, the range in pricing is based on location. Chiropractors in larger cities likely charge more than a rural area.

The initial exam and assessment appointments are usually more expensive than the treatments. If your dog needs ongoing treatments, special package pricing is often offered to help reduce the payments.

There are additional costs associated with veterinary chiropractic service. These include X-rays, MRIs, and blood work. While most of these are associated with the diagnosis they may have to be redone. Once the initial series of treatments is complete, tests may have to be redone to assess the progress and the potential need for more adjustments.

Are Chiropractic Services Covered By Pet Insurance Providers?

Many pet insurance companies offer chiropractic coverage as additional coverage at an additional cost. As with every other circumstance, insurance companies will not cover a pre-existing condition. You have to select the add-on when purchasing your plan. If you have a dog whose breed is prone to any of the common conditions that can be managed by a chiropractor, it might be wise to opt for the upgraded insurance package.

Is a Chiropractor a Good Option for Dogs?

Taking your dog to a chiropractor may seem a bit unusual, but it is as effective for pets as it is for humans. The practice of healing animals using chiropractic techniques dates back to the early 1900s. Although the combined efforts of veterinary and chiropractic care may seem like a new concept, it has been around for a while. The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association was formed in 1989. Its purpose was to offer multiple options to treat your dog’s musculoskeletal and chronic pain issues.

Have you had an experience taking your dog to the chiropractor? Please tell us about it in the comment section.

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