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What is animal chiropractic?

Updated: May 24, 2022

Welcome to In Stride Chiropractic! We are so excited to provide you with the very best in holistic heath options for your pet. Today we are going to explore what an adjustment is, who can practice, and what an initial exam looks like.

What is an animal adjustment?

Adjustments are a natural therapy that work to ensure proper motion to all the joints of the musculoskeletal system. The brain, spinal cord, and nerves that exit the vertebral column (that innervate all the organs, tissues, and cells) rely on proper motion of the joints in order to have awareness of the current state of the body (think: "am I healthy here, or am I sick here?"). Picture the motion of your joints being translated into an "electrical current" that the nerve translates up to and down from the brain. Your brain (the SUPERCOMPUTER) talks then through these nerves like WIRES, sending vital information to and from your body to maintain health. Your joint health affects your brain health, therefore, it is the job of a chiropractor to influence the health of the entire body by ensuring proper health of the musculoskeletal system.

Who can practice?

Ensure your pet has a well trained provider by going with a veterinarian or chiropractor that is board certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) or International Veterinary Chiropractic Association (IVCA). The AVCA/IVCA certification is a 6 month long/200+ hour long course at an accredited program followed by a rigorous board exam. After certification, providers also seek continuing education to maintain their status.

My gold standard is the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA). Not only do they require you to take extensive 200+ hours of education, they also require a board exam and continuing education separate and distinct from other license requirements. The AVCA is also strict in enforcing that only CHIROPRACTORS and VETERINARIANS may take their classes. In other words, only doctors are allowed. ALWAYS ask which program your provider took, there are only 6 that the AVCA recognizes and allows to sit for their exam:

1. Animal Chiropractic Education Source (ACES) [Texas]

2. Healing Oasis Wellness Center [Wisconsin]

3. Options for Animals [Kansas]

4. Parker University CE program (this is the course I took) [Texas]

5. Veterinary Chiropractic Learning Centre [Ontario Canada]

6. BackBone Academy for Veterinary Chiropractic and Healing Arts [Germany]

Another certifying agency is the International veterinary association. This agency is lesser known, but is an accrediting agency for worldwide providers. This association is also strict in that is only allows vets and chiropractors to take their courses. They also require a program and board certification. They recognize 3 programs currently:

1. International Academy of Chiropractic [England, Germany]

2. BackBone Academy [Germany]

3. Options for Animals [UK, Kansas]

Common code words I like to AVOID are "animal osteopath" and "animal body worker". This usually means "I took three courses,and now think I can call myself a specialist." Do not fall into this trap. To my knowledge, there is no course or program currently that allows MDs, DOs, PTs, or animal massage therapists to get certification for animal manipulation. If this person is not comfortable sending notes to your vet, this provider is not someone you should use. Though you can use a chiropractor that your vet has referred you to, I would always require three things of that person:

A) My vet is on board and okay with this person providing treatment.

B) This person will share records and work together with my vet to make my animal healthier and happier.

B) This person has taken additional education in order to fully understand the animal anatomy they will be working with.

It's important to distinguish that a vet is recognized as a PRIMARY CARE PROVIDER for an animal. A vet adds a tool to their tool box with taking an animal chiropractic course in order to be able to offer more services to enhance their patients' health.

A chiropractor is recognized as a SPECIALIST for an animal. Chiropractors take the animal course in order to sharpen their pre-existing tools in order to apply them to more spines. We work in collaboration with vets in order to enhance the health of patients. It is important to note that, in almost every state in the US, chiropractors require a referral and/or supervision from a veterinarian in order to practice. We like to WORK TOGETHER to make pets happier and healthier.

What should I expect?

Upon you initial visit, your provider will take your pet through a series of tests. These examinations might include palpation, motor skill tests, or sensory tests. Ultimately, your provider is evaluating the musculoskeletal system and how it functions. Once your provider finds areas where the adjustment needs to occur, they will then apply a force by hand or with an instrument to restore proper motion to those dysfunctional joints.

Your pet may experience pain or discomfort initially (as dysfunction can be quite painful), but after the treatment, most pets will have a great release of tension which may look like a yawn, smacking of the lips, a tail wag, or even a good shake. Some soreness is to be expected up to 24 hours post treatment, but most animals feel energized or sleepy immediately after. Energized pets usually feel better than they have before, so they want to run, jump and play in their new "pain free" body. Sleepy pets are usually in need of a good rest so that the healing can begin.

Adjustments were designed with all spines in mind. Get your pet moving and feeling better!


I want to let you know you came to the right place for integrative and holistic health for your pet!

We are certified by the AVCA which is a top notch and rigorous certification program of 200+ hours class time followed by a written and practical board exam. We take 10 yearly hours of continuing education because we value knowing the most in order to provide the best.

When choosing adjustments for your pet, choose someone licensed, trained, and certified.

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