Veterinary chiropractic

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Veterinary chiropractic, also known as animal chiropractic, is the practice of spinal manipulation or manual therapy for animals. Proposed benefits of veterinary chiropractic include enhanced performance and improved quality of life. Currently, there are uneven regulations and licensing standards across North America. Evidence supporting the efficacy of veterinary chiropractic is limited.

History and present status[edit]

Chiropractic treatment of large animals dates back to the early 1900s.[1] Traditionally, all animal care fell under the exclusive jurisdiction of veterinarians. With the emergence of veterinary chiropractic, both doctors of chiropractic (DCs) and veterinary medicine (DVMs) can take additional training to become certified in veterinary chiropractic. The primary certifier in North America is The Animal Chiropractic Certification Commission (ACCC) of the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA). Earning certification from the ACCC requires attending an ACCC-approved animal chiropractic program followed by ACCC written and clinical examinations.[2] In some locations, a veterinarian must supervise the treatment provided by a veterinary chiropractor.[3]

Clinical practice[edit]

The American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines recommend that a veterinarian should examine an animal and establish a preliminary diagnosis before any alternative treatment, like chiropractic, is initiated.[4] Before performing a chiropractic adjustment, the chiropractor examines the animal's gait, posture, and the vertebrae and extremities. The chiropractor may also make neurological evaluations.[5] In addition to spinal manipulation, other adjustive procedures can be performed to the extremity joints and cranial sutures.[5] Veterinary chiropractors typically treat working horses, racing greyhounds, and pets.[6] Those that specialize in horses are referred to as "equine chiropractors."[7]

Efficacy and safety[edit]

There is limited evidence supporting the effectiveness of spinal manipulation or mobilization for equine pain management and the efficacy of specific equine manual therapy techniques is unknown.[8] Both the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners have stated that there is currently insufficient evidence to make specific recommendations about the use of chiropractic intervention for dogs and cats.[9] Veterinary chiropractic methods can potentially cause injury through the use of inappropriate technique or excessive force.[9] In addition, there is some degree of risk associated with even skilled manipulation in animals as the potential for injury exists with any technique used.[10][11] This risk may increase in the presence of structural disease, such as equine cervical vertebral malformation or canine intervertebral disk disease.[10]


  1. ^ "Complementary and alternative veterinary medicine—such as acupuncture, herbs and chiropractic—becoming more mainstream" (Press release). American Veterinary Medical Association. 2007-07-14. Archived from the original on May 20, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  2. ^ to Certification "Steps to Certification" Check |url= value (help). American Veterinary Chiropractic Association. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "State Legislative Resources - Issues". Retrieved 2008-05-19. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Ellen Shenk (2005). Careers with Animals: Exploring Occupations Involving Dogs, Horses, Cats. Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-2962-1. Retrieved 2008-04-23. 
  6. ^ Kayne, Steven (2004). Veterinary Pharmacy. Pharmaceutical Press. p. 143. ISBN 0-85369-534-2. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  7. ^ Landers, Theodore (2002). The Career Guide to the Horse Industry. Thomson Delmar Learning. pp. 120–1. ISBN 0-7668-4849-3. Retrieved 2008-04-23. 
  8. ^ Haussler, KK (2010). "The role of manual therapies in equine pain management.". Vet Clin North Am Equine Pract 26 (3): 579–601. doi:10.1016/j.cveq.2010.07.006. PMID 21056301. Retrieved Nov 20, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b The American Animal Hospital Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners. "Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs & Cats". Retrieved 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Ramey D, Keating JC, Imrie R, Bowles D (March 2000). "Claims for veterinary chiropractic unjustified". Can. Vet. J. 41 (3): 169–70. PMC 1476296. PMID 10738593. 
  11. ^ Taylor L, Romano L (March 2000). "Claims for veterinary chiropractic unjustified - A reply". Can. Vet. J. 41 (3): 169–170. PMC 1476304. PMID 17424592. 

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