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A Complete Guide to Chiropractic Care for Dogs


When it comes to your fur baby, you want them to have the healthiest, happiest, longest life possible. A big part of that is providing your pup with quality health care. While traditional veterinary medicine plays a crucial role in maintaining a dog’s health, alternative therapies like chiropractic care can also offer numerous benefits. In this guide, we’re going to dive into the wide world of chiropractic care for dogs. We’ll cover what conditions this healing modality can treat, how to choose the right chiropractor, what to expect during an appointment, and the potential side effects of treatment.

Does my dog need a chiropractor?

Chiropractic care for dogs can be beneficial in various situations, particularly when addressing musculoskeletal issues and promoting overall wellness. Some common conditions that a dog chiropractor can help treat include:


Arthritis is a common condition in dogs, especially as they age. Chiropractic adjustments can alleviate joint pain and improve mobility, helping dogs with arthritis lead more comfortable lives.

Back and neck pain

Dogs can experience back and neck pain due to injuries, herniated discs, or spinal misalignments. Chiropractic adjustments can help alleviate pain and restore proper alignment, improving their quality of life.

Mobility issues

Dogs with mobility issues, such as difficulty walking, can benefit from chiropractic care. By addressing any misalignments or imbalances in the musculoskeletal system, chiropractic adjustments can enhance their mobility and restore proper function.

Performance enhancement

Chiropractic care can also benefit working dogs, athletes, or dogs involved in agility competitions. Regular adjustments can optimize their musculoskeletal health, improve performance, and prevent injuries.

Does pet insurance cover chiropractic care?

Pet insurance coverage for chiropractic care varies depending on the insurance provider and the specific policy. Some pet insurance companies offer coverage for alternative therapies, including chiropractic care, while others may have specific limitations or exclusions.

Review the terms and conditions of the pet insurance policy to understand what is covered and what is not. Even better, give your pet insurance company a call, and ask about any limitations, waiting periods, and whether pre-authorization or a referral from a veterinarian is required.

If you don’t have pet insurance yet and chiropractic care is a priority for you, find a pet insurance policy that either includes coverage for alternative therapies or specifically mentions chiropractic care in its coverage options.

It’s advisable to remember that some pet insurance policies may have annual maximum limits, deductibles, or co-pays that apply to alternative therapies, including chiropractic care. Be sure to review these details to understand your financial responsibility before you get a surprise bill.

How to choose the right dog chiropractor

When seeking chiropractic care for your dog, it is essential to choose a qualified and experienced professional. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a dog chiropractor:

Veterinary credentials

Look for a chiropractor who is a licensed veterinarian. This ensures they have a comprehensive understanding of the dog’s anatomy, physiology, and overall health.

Chiropractic certification

Check if the chiropractor has completed additional training in animal chiropractic care from a reputable institution. Organizations like the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) and the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association (IVCA) offer certification programs for animal chiropractors.


Inquire about the chiropractor’s experience working with dogs. Ask how long they have been practicing animal chiropractic care and if they have treated dogs with similar conditions to your pup’s.

Referrals and reviews

Seek recommendations from trusted sources, such as your veterinarian or fellow dog owners who have utilized chiropractic care for their pets. Additionally, read online reviews and testimonials to gauge the chiropractor’s reputation.

What to expect at a canine chiropractic appointment

During your dog’s chiropractic appointment, the chiropractor will assess their overall health, medical history, and any specific concerns you may have. The chiropractor will conduct a physical exam and may also take X-rays. The actual adjustment process typically involves gentle manipulations of the spine and joints, aiming to restore proper alignment and function. The chiropractor may use their hands or specialized instruments, like an activator, to perform these adjustments, depending on the dog’s size and condition.

Chiropractic care isn’t usually one-and-done. Your fur baby will likely need to return for subsequent adjustments. Some dogs need ongoing care, like an adjustment every couple of weeks, due to spinal issues related to their breed (i.e. Dachshunds, Corgis, and Basset Hounds) or aging.

Potential side effects

While chiropractic care for dogs is generally considered safe and well-tolerated, it’s important to be aware of potential side effects that may occur, although they are relatively rare. These side effects can include:


Following a chiropractic adjustment, some dogs may experience mild soreness or stiffness, similar to what humans might feel after a physical therapy session. This discomfort typically subsides within a day or two.


Dogs may feel tired or lethargic after a chiropractic session. This is often due to the release of tension and the body’s natural healing process. Allow your dog to rest and recover following the adjustment.

Temporary worsening of symptoms

You know the saying, “It gets worse before it gets better”? Well, in some cases, dogs may experience a temporary exacerbation of their symptoms after a chiropractic adjustment. This is known as a “healing crisis” and is a normal response as the body adjusts to the changes. However, if the symptoms persist or worsen significantly, it’s important to consult with the chiropractor or your veterinarian.

These side effects are generally mild and transient. However, it’s always important to closely observe your dog following a chiropractic session and promptly notify the chiropractor or your veterinarian if you notice any concerning or prolonged adverse effects.

Keeping your dog healthy and happy

Chiropractic care for dogs can be a valuable addition to traditional veterinary medicine, particularly for addressing musculoskeletal issues and promoting overall wellness. By considering the specific needs of your dog, choosing a qualified chiropractor, and understanding the potential benefits, you can make an informed decision regarding their care. Remember, always consult with your veterinarian before pursuing any alternative therapies to ensure the best possible outcome for your furry friend’s health and happiness.


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