Chiropractic Goes to the Dogs

Like a lot of my fellow dog lovers, I place a premium on my pets' well-being. I may ignore my own health concerns from time...


Like a lot of my fellow dog lovers, I place a premium on my pets’ well-being. I may ignore my own health concerns from time to time, postponing or canceling appointments for routine checkups, but I’ll never skimp where my dogs are concerned. They’re seen by the vet a lot more often than I ever see a doctor! There is, however, one doctor I won’t ever cancel on: my chiropractor.

Some people wince at the mere word chiropractor, envisioning loud neck-cracks and other violent forms of “treatment.” But my chiropractor, Joyce Nawy DC (for Doctor of Chiropractic), takes a gentle, holistic approach – a session with her is like a warm bath.

Depending on how flush I am, I may see the DC twice a week, twice a month, or every couple of months. Sometimes I go as soon as possible after I’ve sustained an injury; other times I go when I feel fine. But I’m always amazed at how I can enter her office feeling gravitationally challenged and literally bent out of shape, and emerge feeling lighter, stronger, and more flexible. Without fail, the chiropractic adjustment always leads to a very welcome attitude adjustment that’s immediately noticeable.

My DC’s skills are astonishing. One time, I tripped and fell in the park, landing with both shins on a giant rock that some genius landscaper planted at the center of the dog run. The pain was so excruciating that I couldn’t even manage hobbling the few short blocks from the park to my apartment, and had to catch a cab with the dog who was with me. The very next day, the good DC applied her healing know-how to my legs, and all was well.

Then there was the time a car drove slowly over my left foot. Considering the number of dog-walks I undertake every day (my crew of five goes out four times per diem), I was very concerned that this injury would impact our lives extremely negatively. I had the same sinking feeling when, about six months ago, the hatch of a Land Rover slammed onto the top of my head. (Ouch is an understatement.) The fact that my brain and my left foot still work at all amazes me – but then, it shouldn’t, because my chiropractor treated both injuries right away, and she really knows what she’s doing.

Now, more and more dogs are benefiting from chiropractic too. It works wonders on puppies as well as senior dogs. “Research shows that if animals start early with chiropractic, they live 25 percent healthier and longer,” says Dr. Jill Elliot, a holistic vet who does chiropractic on pets in New York City and New Jersey.

My two senior dogs, Tiki and Sheba visit Dr. Elliot for regular chiropractic sessions to help them cope with arthritis. The arthritis in Sheba’s back is so advanced that she sometimes cries out in pain when I groom her, doing her utmost to squirm away from me and the de-shedder she dreads.

“Chiropractic is most often used to help animals that have joint and muscle problems,” Dr. Elliot says. “But it can also be useful for animals that don’t have any noticeable problems yet.” So, if you have a dog breed that’s prone to developing certain orthopedic ailments such as hip dysplasia, you can actually help stave off the pain by starting chiropractic early.

As with chiropractic in humans, the doc uses an “activator,” a device that resembles a high-powered hole punch; it delivers a light jolt of pressure at different points along a dog’s neck and back, to activate the muscles surrounding the bones, “firing them back into proper alignment,” as Dr. Elliot explains. The treatment takes only a few minutes per dog, but the results are long-lasting.

I’m happy to report that not only do Tiki and Sheba walk and take stairs with greater ease immediately after their bones are fired into alignment by Dr. Elliot and her activator; they actually appear to enjoy the process of receiving treatment, smiling all the way through it and making no effort to squirm away from the doc. (Kindly check out Catherine Nance’s photo of Sheba getting “activated” for ocular proof of this!)

Coming from my dogs, that’s the most eloquent endorsement I can think of – and visible proof that humans aren’t the only ones who can benefit from an attitude adjustment by undergoing a chiropractic one.

To locate a veterinary chiropractor near you, go here.

Photo Credit: Catherine Nance

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