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Acupuncture and Chiropractic


What is Acupuncture?—

The American Veterinary Medical Association defines acupuncture for animals as “the examination and stimulation of specific points on the body of non-human animals by use of needles, moxibustion, injections, low-level lasers, magnets, and a variety of other techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of numerous conditions in animals."

What is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic may be defined many ways, but it is essentially a manual therapy that focuses on the biomechanics of the spine and its effects on the nervous system in the body. It is typically a misconception that the patient is “out,” with the meaning that the bones themselves are luxated, or out of place. Rather, a better term may be “stuck,” where the vertebrae are not moving properly in relation to each other.

Why use a veterinarian certified in chiropractic medicine, rather than a "layperson" who is not a veterinarian?
By using a chiropractor who is also a veterinarian, subtle lameness issues are detected much earlier, due to a DVM’s advanced training. In the United States, in order to be certified by either the International or American Veterinary Chiropractic Associations, an individual must be either a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or a Doctor of Chiropractic. The candidate must then attend an approved 5 week course, studying neurology, anatomy, chiropractic history and theory, saddle fitting, and gait analysis, in addition to learning animal chiropractic technique. The additional education required for certification helps a practitioner to determine whether or not an issue is truly chiropractic in nature. In other words, if an animal is adjusted once or twice with little or no improvement, it is very likely that a full lameness exam needs to be conducted, plus additional diagnostics such as x-rays and/or ultrasound.

What are some common reasons for an animal to need adjusted?

Trauma, poor shoeing, poor dentistry, age, poor saddle fit, routine adjustments due to a strenuous competition schedule

What are some symptoms that an animal needs to be adjusted?

Reduced performance, unwillingness to work, running out at jumps, swapping leads behind, difficulty with collection

How can a person adjust an animal as big as a horse?

A chiropractor systematically examines the entire spine by palpation, and identifies vertebrae that are not moving correctly. An adjustment is performed that is specific to the affected vertebra; therefore, only a small segment of the horse is worked on at any given time.

How often should my horse be adjusted?

The simple answer to this question is “it depends.” If an animal is not having specific problems, and is being adjusted on a routine basis for maintenance, I suggest roughly 4 times per year, depending on their competition schedule. If an animal has sustained a specific injury, such as flipping over backwards or another fall, it may take several treatments spaced 3-6 weeks apart in order to fully correct any issues.