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Chiropractic for dogs

Daily exercise and play sessions form a vital part of our pets’ everyday lives. However, while living an active lifestyle may be enjoyable, it requires top spinal health and flexibility. More and more veterinarians are now recommending chiropractic care to treat injuries, restore mobility and relieve pain in animals, particularly in aging pets, working dogs, or those involved in intense obedience and agility training. But the benefits of chiropractic care don’t end there; this form of manipulation therapy is also becoming increasing popular in treating a surprising number of other health problems, from separation anxiety to incontinence.

Why use a dog chiropractor?

Chiropractic care for dogs involves undergoing spinal manipulation or manual therapy to move misplaced vertebrae in the spine (also known as vertebral subluxations) back into their normal position to release pressure on the surrounding nerve tissue. This, in turn, relieves pain and enables the body to naturally heal itself.

Chiropractic is most commonly administered as an additional treatment option for animals suffering from spinal problems or biomechanical-related musculoskeletal disorders. Injuries and disorders like these can cause your pet’s health to deteriorate quickly, and can severely affect movement, posture and flexibility, and even impact other muscles and joints in the body.

What is dog chiropractic treatment used for?

Dog chiropractors can help treat a number of conditions, including:

  • Chronic musculoskeletal problems
  • Acute tension or stiffness
  • Separation anxiety
  • Incontinence
  • Muscle spasms and nerve problems
  • Diagnosed pathologies such as hip dysplasia and CCL rupture
  • Skin problems such as lick granulomas 

Chiropractic care can also be used to enhance performance, prevent illness and maintain fitness, as well as treat animals suffering from injuries or lameness.

The growth of veterinary chiropractic care

Chiropractic medicine was first practiced in the early 1900s, however ongoing opposition from osteopathic and mainstream medicine meant the therapy wasn’t licensed across all fifty states until as late as 1974. It began to emerge in veterinary medicine shortly after, and rose in popularity during the 1980s.

As a natural, drug-free alternative for pain relief, chiropractic care is favored by many pet owners. It’s also a non-invasive treatment, almost always covered by dog insurance, and helps maintain a healthy nervous system. It can be used as a standalone therapy or in conjunction with other conventional treatments, and is suitable for juvenile, adult and senior pets. Under the Trupanion Recovery and Complementary Care Rider, hydrotherapy is included if recommended by your veterinarian and provided by or under the supervision of a qualified professional. 

The self-healing therapy of dog chiropractors

The primary benefit of canine chiropractic care is the holistic nature of the treatment and its ability to encourage your pet’s body to heal itself. A healthy nervous system helps restore and maintain good general health, and this targeted therapy can help benefit your pet’s health and fitness for years to come.

In general, chiropractic treatment has no harmful side effects, however only light exercise is recommended after treatments to minimize the risk of injury. Treatment plans are often also supported by a complimentary exercise regime to ensure your pet benefits as much as possible from the therapy.

The impact of vertebral subluxations (misalignments in the spine)

There are several symptoms which may indicate vertebral subluxations in pets, from changes in temperament to an abnormal gait or hunched posture. While some vertebral subluxations may not cause pain, they often result in stiffness and tension, and can lead to secondary conditions developing, including problems with muscular co-ordination and mobility. Here’s some of the tell-tale signs to look out for if you feel your pet may be suffering from vertebral subluxations:

  • “Puppy sitting”- when a dog sits with its legs out to the side 
  • Lick granuloma on leg or paws
  • Uneven muscle tone
  • Acute neck or back pain
  • Sensitivity to touch or an aversion to grooming
  • Lameness
  • Problems with certain movements, such as jumping or climbing stairs
  • Carrying the tail to one side
  • Aggressive, withdrawn or unsociable behavior
  • Dry, dull coat or rough patches of fur


Chiropractic can be combined with most conventional and alternative therapies and most pets, particularly those with chronic pain conditions, respond well to the treatment. It’s also one of the safest veterinary treatments available when practiced correctly, however it should never be administered without proper diagnosis by a licensed veterinarian. 

Upgrade your pet's policy

On top of our standard medical pet insurance coverage, we offer a special Recovery and Complementary Care Rider at an additional cost, which covers you and your pet for a whole range of extra treatments and procedures to make sure your animal stays as healthy as can be. As well as chiropractic treatment, this package includes veterinary recommended acupuncture, behavioral modification, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathy, and rehabilitative therapy.

The use of these additional treatments in conjunction with more traditional practices can help to nurse your feline or canine friend back to health and comfort more quickly. From effective pain relief to promoting healing and recovery, the therapies under the Recovery and Complementary Care Rider aim to bring your pet back to health as rapidly, safely and effectively as possible. 

Chiropractic care is included in our Recovery and Complementary Care Rider.

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