Chiropractic for pets; an old idea gaining in popularity. The NY Times explores.

Chiropractic for pets; an old idea gaining in popularity. The NY Times explores.

Chiropractors have been working on animals for years, and the practice is perhaps best known with race horses. Veterinarians has long fought chiropractors for their rights to work on animals too, stating that working on animals is the sole province of their style of medicine, yet few actually do manipulation.

Check out this article in the NY Times regarding the growing use of chiropractors for peoples pets.


At the Chiropractor, Well-Adjusted Pets


One morning last August, Mary Arabe’s 9-year-old gray and black tiger cat, Leo, came home from a night out exploring with a severe limp and an elbow swollen three times its normal size. He was clearly in pain; Ms. Arabe thought he had dislocated his shoulder during a fall.

“He kind of lay around the barn that day; you could tell he was hurting,” said Ms. Arabe, who lives on a 25-acre farm in Rogers, Ohio, with 10 chickens, three horses, three cats and two dogs. “He was in so much agony I thought, ‘If someone can’t remove this animal’s pain I have to put him down.'”

She took Leo to the veterinarian, who said he could do nothing for him. Despondent, she took him to Rick Tsai, a chiropractor in Darlington, Pa., who a few years earlier had adjusted Ms. Arabe’s puggle, Bustar, after a head and neck injury.

An X-ray found no broken bones, but there was a large amount of swelling and fluid retention. Dr. Tsai couldn’t make any promises, but he placed his hands on the cat’s spine, hips and neck and manipulated the joints until they popped.

“We brought the cat home, and the next day he was walking fine,” said Ms. Arabe. “Two thirds of the swelling in the arm was gone. Whatever Dr. Tsai adjusted, it worked. He healed him.”

Millions of people swear by their chiropractors, and chiropractic has long been a mainstay in the equine world, especially among show or racehorses. Now it is gaining popularity among pet owners, as a way to treat household pets suffering from arthritis, sprains, joint pain and other ailments.

Animal, or veterinary, chiropractic originated around 1895, when human chiropractic first began. But it did not gain wider appeal until 1987, when the late Sharon Willoughby-Blake, a veterinarian and chiropractor, started Options for Animals in Hillsdale, Ill., which taught vets and chiropractors how to adjust animals. Two years later, the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association, a professional membership group and the main certifying agency in North America, was formed.

According to Robbie Hroza, vice president of operations for Options for Animals, about 2,000 students have gone through their program. Over the last two years, student enrollment has increased by 50 percent; a good portion are recent graduates of veterinary or chiropractic schools, she said.

Still, the practice remains controversial, in both people and pets. While some studies have found that chiropractic care can be more effective than medications for people with problems like neck pain, others have linkedforceful neck manipulation to strokes. Other researchers have found that unfavorable chiropractic outcomes are under-reported in medical trials.

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