What is Animal Chiropractic?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2018
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Animal chiropractic is a branch of chiropractic therapy which focuses on the treatment of animals through physical manipulation and adjustment techniques. Practitioners of animal chiropractic believe that many health conditions can be addressed with the assistance of adjustments, helping animals to be more healthy in general while laying the groundwork for healthy, comfortable bodies. Depending on where you are, practice of chiropractic therapy on animals may be restricted by law to certain individuals.

In many countries, animal chiropractic can only be administered by a licensed veterinarian. This is in response to historical concerns about people without medical licenses working on animals and potentially injuring or even killing them due to inexperience. In other cases, someone may be able to obtain a special license as a practitioner of animal chiropractic which includes extensive training with the species he or she wishes to work on. In other instances, practice of animal chiropractic is totally unregulated, in which case consumers should be very careful to request information about qualifications and training.

Chiropractic itself is a fairly well known bodywork technique which involves making physical adjustments to the body, especially to the spine, with the goal of aligning the body properly, teaching the body correct postures, and promoting general health and well being. Some people may attend chiropractic sessions on a regular basis to keep themselves healthy, while others visit chiropractors to address specific conditions.


As with chiropractic practice in humans, animal chiropractic is viewed as a holistic health technique, and many people consider it to be a form of supplementary medicine, meaning that it should ideally be integrated into a larger health care plan. Veterinarians who offer chiropractic services are often happy to take on animals as regular clients, and they may have a variety of approaches to animal health, ranging from very holistic views which incorporate massage, herbal medicine, and similar techniques to more pragmatic approaches with a more traditional Western feel.

As you might imagine, training in this field can get complex. It requires an extensive knowledge of the musculoskeletal system of a variety of animal species, along with a knowledge of chiropractic principles. Typically an animal chiropractor will focus on a handful of species, offering sessions on large or small animals, but not usually both. The length of a session may vary; horses, for example, may have sessions which take two or more hours, exhausting the practitioner in the process, while cats and dogs have much shorter sessions of around a half hour in length.

If you want to find a practitioner of animal chiropractic in your area, you may want to start by asking your regular vet for a referral. If your vet offers chiropractic sessions, he or she may be happy to do it; if not, by asking for a referral, you can find a practitioner your vet likes and is comfortable with. You can also try searching the membership records of an organization like the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association for people in your area who offer this service.



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