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When NOT to get your pet adjusted

When your pet hasn't seen the vet first

When it comes to receiving chiropractic care for your pet, it's important to remember that chiropractic care is in complement to your pre-existing veterinary routine.

When your pet sees the vet first, your vet is able to rule out the more malignant causes of your pet's pain. When the big scary things like cancer, broken bones, or other maladies are ruled out, it can allow your animal chiropractic provider to know that they can truly make a difference for your pet's health.

It's also important to consider that chiropractic care does not address or replace your pet's need for:

Routine lab work

Annual physical exams

Parasite prevention


... and more!

When your vet and chiropractor work together, it is better for your animal's health.

When your provider isn't properly trained / certified

Just like prescribing medication or performing surgery, the hands administering the therapy should be well trained and licensed.⁠

The best way to know if you have a quality provider is to ask where they went to school and / or what certifications they have.⁠

The two certification associations in the US are the AVCA and IVCA. Should your provider not have completed a board examination with one of these entities, you may not want them working on your pet.⁠


During these courses we learn the 2 most important things:⁠

when NOT to adjust ⁠

and how to NOT hurt an animal⁠

Should your provider not have a basic understanding of these things, they may not have your better interests at heart

When should your dog NOT be adjusted

It's hard for me to admit, but there are some pets I refuse to see because I am not the person that needs to be seeing them.

So, let me tell you of some examples of when chiropractic care may not be the right fit for your beloved canine companions

🚩 This dog has not first been diagnosed by their vet for a mystery lameness, neurologic disorder, and/or sudden change in health status. These signs are a major red flag and should be first evaluated by your pet's primary treating veterinarian. Your pet is not like you where they can tell you all about their aches and pains, so a sudden change is actually a really big indicator that your pet needs a detailed veterinary evaluation.

🚩 If a pet displays unwarranted and / or excessive aggression while being handled. What I do is weird, foreign, and unnerving for pets. You can only imagine being in excruciating pain and having someone come punch on your back. As I still haven't mastered the art of telepathy, it is a good idea to first address why a pet does not want to be handled before forcing them to get adjusted.

🚩 You pet just had an acute injury or underwent a major surgical procedure. I think it is reasonable to say there is a time and a place for emergent medical intervention. If your pet needs to go to the emergency room, maybe chiropractic care can wait a couple of weeks

🚩 Your pet has glaring comorbidities that need to be managed first. I have seen pets come to me with questionable lumps and bumps, inability to stand, pale gums, distended abdomen, difficulty breathing, and more. If your pet is struggling to just survive another day, a chiropractic visit should be the last thing on your list of things to do. Seek first to stabilize their condition, then we can focus on optimization

Chiropractic care is an important complement to routine vet care, but it is not a replacement. If your pet is struggling with major health concerns, please remember to put their well being first.

When should your horse NOT be adjusted

So, let me tell you of some examples of when chiropractic care may not be the right fit for your beloved equine

🚩 If your horse can hardly stand unassisted or is suddenly dead lame. Not only is this unsafe for your chiropractic provider to work on a horse with bad balance, but there are also a plethora of neurologic issues that your vet needs to rule out. Some of these could be life threatening.

🚩 There is heat, swelling, or a bounding pulse. When you groom your horse, feel them all over (particularly, their legs). Especially when you evaluate the limbs, make sure that your horse has "tight cold feet." If anything is hot, squishy, or you can feel a pulse... call your vet first.

🚩 Your horse is running a fever. It is a good practice if you routinely travel for shows to take your horse's temperature so you can identify early signs of poor health before they manifest. A fever could mean your horse's energy should go towards fighting infection instead of dealing with post adjustment pain and soreness.

🚩 Your horse is too aggressive to be handled or can hardly stand being touched. My job is very hands on and require a decent amount of handling. If your horse is so painful they cannot stand being groomed or will act out maliciously with simple commands (like lifting the feet or being groomed) it might be best to first understand why.

🚩 Your horse is recovering from a major injury or procedure. If your horse has been put on strict stall rest due to an injury or just underwent invasive surgery, it may be best to wait for their body to heal before seeking out a chiropractic adjustment. I recommend at least a week or two for horses to decompress.

Chiropractic care is an important complement to routine vet care, but it is not a replacement. If your pet is struggling with major health concerns, please remember to put their well being first.

When you aren't seeing results

The body takes time to heal, so take this piece of advice with a grain of salt.... but, I tell most of my patients that we'll know if chiropractic is "working" within 6 treatments or so (~3 weeks)

Sometimes owner expectations can be unrealistic for the animal in question... but if no improvement is seen during care, we need to stop and ask ourselves why. It's important that we be results oriented as to not waste valuable time and/or resources


📍 Have we thoroughly ruled out other comorbidities with our vet?

📍 Are we seeing a properly trained / certified animal chiropractor?

📍 Are we removing barriers to good health at home (diet, exercises, toxins, bad fitting equipment, etc)?

📍 Should synergistic therapies also be explored to boost effectiveness?

Chiropractic care is not curative, but rather supportive. If your pet is not at least achieving some degree of relief or improvement from the care that is rendered, it may be time to explore other avenues to reach your pet's health goals

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