How do you know if your dog needs chiropractic care?

Chiropractic does much more than ease pain. It can help your dog by enhancing her body’s ability to heal itself, which means it’s beneficial for just about any condition.

Many people associate chiropractic care with fixing back pain, but that only touches the surface of what this modality can do for your dog. While it’s not a cure for disease, what it does is boost the body’s capacity to heal itself and create new tissue. This makes chiropractic a truly holistic therapy for a range of health problems in your dog, from infections to injuries to metabolic conditions.


Clients will often call and tell us that their dogs have been diagnosed with “xyz” and wonder if chiropractic care will fix them. In order to answer that question, we must first examine the ways in which a veterinary diagnosis and a chiropractic diagnosis are made.

  1. Veterinary diagnoses always include the organ or tissue causing the problem. Broken bones, lacerated skin and muscles, torn tendons, metabolic syndromes (e.g. diabetes, Cushing’s), facet syndrome, sore muscles, strained muscles, and tendonitis are all examples of veterinary diagnoses. They allow veterinarians to communicate with clients and other vets about what we believe the patient’s problem is.
  2. The certified animal chiropractor will make only one diagnosis — vertebral subluxation. Without seeing the dog, it’s difficult to know if subluxations are present; however, most animals experience three things on a regular basis that cause these misalignments — thoughts, trauma, and toxins. Without adjusting the dog, it is impossible to know if removing the nerve interference caused by the subluxation will allow the animal’s innate wisdom to restore the homeostatic condition that is health.


When you cut your finger, you destroy a billion cells — yet your body will create new cells to heal that cut. When all those new cells have been created, your finger is healed. Similarly, if your dog has a sore ear it’s because billions of cells in there are sick and dying. When all those sick cells die off and are replaced by new healthy ones, the ear is healed. If the cells are replaced by unhealthy ones, the ear still hurts. Healing takes place by one means only — the creation of new living tissue. The living body replaces damaged cells with healthy cells if it is given the correct information and building blocks.

Highlight: Chiropractic is not a cure for any disease, but it helps correct the information the brain is transmitting to all areas of the body.

I see people sit back and give up when their dogs develop certain problems and get bad diagnoses because they were told there was no hope. But there is hope, because any living body, when it’s working properly, has the ability to recover completely from almost any condition known to man. There are very few hopeless cases; it doesn’t matter what the condition is.

From a chiropractic standpoint, there is only one answer no matter what disease you’re asking about. Chiropractic doesn’t treat any disease; it just removes nervous system interference. Every dog, no matter what her condition, is better off if her body is working a little better — and that is how chiropractic relates to health. It helps the body by allowing it to work a little better.


Any dog can contract an opportunistic bacterial or viral infection. This leads to the use of medications to help the animal clear an infection that one with a functioning immune system wouldn’t have been fazed by. These medications can cause side effects that may lead to long-term complications.

Highlight: Louis Pasteur once said: “In a state of health, the body is shut off from the invasion of germs.” Regular chiropractic care increases the immune system’s ability to fight infections.


The power that turned two cells into the amazing mass of cells that is now your beloved dog is the power that controls every reaction that occurs in her body. Chiropractic is about helping restore normal communication between your dog’s brain and every part of her body. Restoring this communication allows the brain to resume appropriate control and guide the organs to function at optimal levels.

As far as you can tell, your dog may appear to have a functioning nervous system. However, a dog with a subluxation will experience improper nerve flow to and from the organs of her body. Without this power, cellular dysfunction begins to occur. For example, cellular nutrition requires glucose and insulin levels to maintain balance; diabetes occurs when cells and hormones are not working together to control and provide appropriate nutrition to the body’s cells. Inappropriate responses cause the cells to become resistant to the function of insulin, which causes glucose and cortisol levels to be elevated all the time. Cushing’s disease, another common condition in dogs, is characterized by an inappropriate level of cortisol. In other words, diabetes, Cushing’s and similar diseases are symptoms of a lack of power.

Highlight: With an improved nerve supply, your dog’s health and well-being will be elevated. Chiropractic adjustments for your dog, along with other healthy lifestyle choices such as a good diet, will have a cumulative effect and result in noticeable changes.

Chiropractic is about restoring the power that created the body, so it can heal itself. Animal chiropractors focus on restoring life, not eliminating symptoms or curing disease. The reason is simple: only the power that made the body can heal the body. With life restored via chiropractic adjustments, the body is free to work as intended, curing disease and eliminating symptoms on its own!


Bill Ormston, DVM

Dr. Bill Ormston graduated from Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1988. After attending Options For Animals in 1998 he received certification from the AVCA and began using chiropractic to treat his animal patients. Jubilee Animal Health is a mobile mixed animal practice in the Dallas Metroplex area where he cares for pets and horses using mostly alternative methods. He is one of the founding instructors of the post graduate course in Animal Chiropractic at Parker Chiropractic College in Dallas. Dr.O has lectured both nationally and internationally on Animal Chiropractic and biomechanics and gait analysis in the quadruped. He has written booklets on chiropractic care in the dog and horse and a book about blending traditional and alternative care in pets.

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