Chiropractic 101

This is Chiropractic 101, the short version, for those who always ask “why” and never thought “because I said so” was a satisfactory answer. The goal here is to explain fundamental chiropractic principles so you can understand why chiropractic can be one of the most effective healing modalities for your animal, no matter his or her job in life.



Chiropractic philosophy is based on the principle view that the body is a self-regulating, self-healing system. The nervous system (brain and spinal cord) is the master regulator within the body and directs the daily activities of every cell in the body.  Spinal fixations (locked up joints), regardless of cause, can impede nervous system communications. When communications breakdown and normal bodily function is disrupted, the body will employ physical or biochemical changes elsewhere to stay balanced. These compensatory changes ultimately create abnormal stresses on tissues and organs. These abnormal stresses eventually show up as symptoms such as a limp or unexplained diarrhea. Symptoms can be subtle or obvious depending on what tissues or organs are affected by the changes.


Parts are Parts:

Every joint in the body must move normally for optimal body function. It takes a lot of small movement in every spinal joint (there are a lot of them) to culminate in a larger movement of bending to the side or turning one’s head and neck. Animals experience the ol’ crick in the neck or back but it often goes unnoticed. Animals hide dis-ease, via compensatory changes, very well. In fact, it is thought that animals instinctually “turn down” pain signals to minimize the display of dis-ease. This is true even with domesticated animals. We notice “the small stuff” when compensatory changes cause something else to go bad (remember Teamwork).


The Nitty Gritty:

Chiropractic technique employs the use of an adjustment (small, fast thrust) over a joint to restore motion. Adjustments can be made either manually or with a specialized instrument called an activator. Restoring joint motion often gives instantaneous relief to an affected area. The nervous system receives new signals from the body after every adjustment. Those signals create changes throughout the body such as increased blood flow to injured areas, improved digestion and muscle spasm release. It is a “reboot” of sorts to open the lines of communication and help the body re-evaluate what changes need to take place for healing (remember Parts are Parts).


Safety First:

Animal Chiropractic is generally a painless and safe treatment modality when performed by a trained, certified practitioner. If an area is too tender for a typical thrust-type of adjustment, other techniques can be employed to help release the vertebral fixation. You will be referred back to your general practitioner if any area appears more painful than is "typical" for a chiropractic problem.

The Fine Print:

It is recommended that your animal first be evaluated by your general practitioner for any new symptoms or problems, especially painful conditions. It is important to address pain management concerns for any animal quickly. Once evaluated or diagnosed by your regular veterinarian it is reasonable to discuss what beneficial role chiropractic may provide in your animal’s recovery process (remember Safety First). Dr. Davis is a licensed veterinarian and can do initial examinations for diagnosis but does not provide primary care services such as x-rays, nerve blocks or prescription medications.

There is no single healing modality that will completely address every condition. Chiropractic is no exception. It is all about taking the best that each modality has to offer, complementary or conventional, and using them synergistically to support the body’s healing capabilities.

Please contact Dr. Davis by phone or email if you have further questions about chiropractic for your animal.


Here is a short list of the more common symptoms that benefit from chiropractic work:


Subtle lamenesses

Ear pinning or teeth grinding when saddle girth is tightened

Dropping or unable to hold leads

Throwing head for transitions, unable to collect properly

Stiffness/resistance performing one direction versus the other

Crabby, resistant demeanor in a normally compliant animal


Small animals:

Back (or neck) painful to the touch, arched back posture, painful when picked up

Non-specific lameness or limp with no localized pain

Lick granulomas, recurrent ear infections, recurrent anal gland problems

Grumpy, uncharacteristic behavior (depressed, avoids petting)


              Yes, the chicken (her name is Ruth) is really enjoying her chiropractic treatment.
              She almost fell asleep.