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Four Legged Chiropractic (Posted On: Tuesday, May 17, 2011)

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We were recently invited to a demonstration by Dr. Angela Martin-King performing chiropractic adjustments on a horse, a large dog and a funny little dog named Paco.  It was very cool and pretty amazing to watch how the animals responded.  The horse leaned into her for his adjustments and when the large dog was adjusted you could see how he relaxed by his eyes. All animals were very appreciative, calm and happy.

So how do you know if your animal needs treatment?

Well, has your animal’s activity level, demeanour or performance changed?  You know your animal best and if they are just not acting like themselves, maybe they do need to see a chiropractor. Pain is often a late symptom of biomechanical changes, and other changes may be noticeable to you before your animal indicates it is in pain. These may be very subtle or very pronounced.

Your own observations in your animal 
• Has your animal’s behavior or performance changed recently?
• Does unusual or fluctuating lameness exist?
• Does the rider have difficulty sitting straight on the horse?
• Has the rider or trainer noticed changes in any of the gaits?
• Is the pet reluctant to move, or have problems moving around certain obstacles?
• Does the animal drag its feet, use only one lead or wear the shoes/nails on one side?
• Has the handler or trainer noticed changes in motivation of the pet?
• Examining mobility in your animal
• The animal should be able to move freely in all directions without tension

Using a treat if necessary, ask the animal to turn its head and neck to the side so that it touches its flank with its nostrils. Less mobility one side compared to the other could indicate a problem in the cervical vertebrae.

Test the lateral movement of the spine by placing one hand on the spine and with the other pull the animal’s tail carefully towards you so that its back bends around your hand.
Is one side stiffer than the other?

Place slight pressure on the back from above. The back should easily and evenly, spring and swing. It should not feel stiff and hard.

Feeling The Muscles
Examine the animal´s main muscle groups for pain, tension and asymmetry. The muscles of a healthy animal should be the same on both sides; feeling firmly elastic but not too hard or too soft. If you place the muscles under moderate pressure, the animal should not show signs of being in pain.

Feeling The Spine
Feel the spine from the base of the neck to the tail, paying attention to any elevations and protruding areas of bone. Compare both sides of the animal’s spine and pelvis, they should be the same. Look for any protruding areas of bone in the neck.

Neurological Effects
A major effect of spinal joint restrictions can be impairment to the flow of information in the nerves which exit the spinal cord between the vertebrae.  These nerves innervate the skin, certain glands and blood vessels, and impingement of them can result in neurological disturbances such as:

• Unusual itching/chewing at the base of the tail or other parts of the body
• Increased sensitivity to heat and cold
• Asymmetrical or reduced perspiration
• hair pattern changes (hair standing up)
• intestinal disturbances, including diarrhea, constipation and colic 

This list of symptoms is certainly not exhaustive however, it does demonstrate the wide variety of symptoms an animal chiropractor is trained to recognized and treat.
 
Common causes of joint dysfunction and compensations
 
Every day most animals are exposed to situations which can cause damage to their spine.
The following examples could cause joint dysfunction:
• Trauma: falls, trips, slips, being cast or running into something
• Body conformation: certain body shapes or proportions predispose animals to problems
• Lack of movement or confinement in a stall/kennel
• Performance: Every event strains the spine in a different, specific way.
• Rider: Any problems with the rider’s seat or balance can lead to back problems in the horse.
• Age: As age increases, damage from earlier injuries accumulates and becomes more apparent
• Saddle:  Poorly fitting saddles are one of the most frequent causes of back problems
• Foot care: Poor foot/hoof care can interfere with the animal’s movement and result in resulting in compensation problems in the the spine.
• Repetitive strain: overuse or repetitive micro-injury can lead to accumulation of minor damage until it results in major damage and dysfunction.
• Unknown: sometimes it is impossible to know the exact nature of an injury.
 
Prevention is the Best Medicine
Having your animals checked by a Certified Animal Chiropractor before they develop problems is always the best choice of care.  Dr. Martin-King believes each animal deserves optimal health. She recommends to all her clients to "adopt a preventative strategy towards your whole family's health, including you pets!"

Dr. Angela Martin-King provides quality chiropractic care to human and animal patients in Collingwood and the surrounding Blue Mountain and Georgian Bay area. She is the founder of Kingstone Chiropractic, a patient-oriented, mobile clinic that provides conservative chiropractic care to both people and pets.

For more information visit the website.   

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