A very common question for me – How often should my dog have chiropractic treatment? In fact @KempEquine asked the question via Twitter (@Dr_Dan_DVM) this morning. To which I answered with the great all encompassing cop out answer – it depends.
It depends on why you are doing chiropractic treatment for your dog. Chiropractic is a technique, a tool, to use to help correct biomechanical and neurological problems; however it is also an entire medical system used to help the body’s ability to heal and to stay healthy. A healthy spine will in fact help maintain a healthy body.
So do you have a dog with an injury or a physical problem and you are trying to resolve that problem? Do you have a dog that competes? Do you have a dog with a chronic physical condition? Do you have a normal dog with no problems but would like to maintain a healthy spine for your dog? In each of these cases and in each of the individual dogs in those cases would require different chiropractic treatment schedules. A treatment schedule needs to be individualized for the patient.
With that said I will give you some guidelines for some maintenance schedules –
Competition Dog – once a month to maintain flexibility and proper biomechanics to perform optimally and comfortably.
Chronic Physical condition such as arthritis – once a month to once every other month depending on how well the symptoms are alleviated by a treatment. Sometimes at the later stages of the condition may need to be treated more often such as once a week to once every 2 weeks to try and maintain the comfort of the dog.
A dog with a specific physical problem that you are trying to resolve – once a week to once a month for the first 3 times then extended out to a maintenance of once every 3 months or until the next problem arises.
A normal dog – once a month to once every 3 months for maintenance of the health of the spine.
In general, if your dog has a spine, you should be having a chiropractic treatment once a month to once every three months and if the dog is showing symptoms of a physical problem then it will be more often on a case by case basis.
Winter is here and for those of us in the northern climates that means that snow, ice and COLD is here. This also means unfortunately for some owners their dog does not get out and exercise like it should.
Just because it is cold outside does not mean that exercising your dog has to stop. You just bundle up and still take Fido out for a walk, he already has a fur coat on. Now of course if it is not safe due to freezing temps like we had last week where the wild chill was well below 0 then of course one day of skipping exercise is OK just as if the temp was over 100 with 90% humidity. You do not walk your dog in extreme conditions. However for the most part, despite the weather your dog will still need some exercise. There are some alternatives!
Indoor dog parks – I am not a fan of dog parks, in general, for a variety of reasons, but for exercising your dog in the winter time it may be the only choice for some people. I would rather the dog take a risk of getting into a dog fight or catch a respiratory infection than to miss out on exercise the entire winter. A risk/reward decision needs to be made in that situation.
Underwater Treadmill – An underwater treadmill is expensive to purchase and to operate, however if no one is using it then it because even more expensive. That is why there are some dog physical therapy facilities that are giving great discounts to healthy dogs that are on an exercise program to use their equipment. Now a physical therapist is not going to be running the machine and there are some other technical things that need to be worked out between you and the facility but it may be a great way to keep your dog in shape in the winter.
A treadmill at home – A few of my clients have trained their dogs to using a regular treadmill that they have at home. Instead of it sitting there in the corner as a clothes hanger – your dog can use it to get their daily walk in. 20 minutes a day on the treadmill would be perfect. One of my clients has a Sheltie that will sit and bark at the treadmill in the morning until they turn it on. Once they do, the dog hops on and takes itself for a walk. Maybe it was a hamster in another life??
Lastly if you have a larger open area in your house like in the basement – you can take your dog and do some exercise like fetch or some simple agility equipment like weave poles. Your dog will not get as good of a workout but at least it is something, your dog will be up and moving and not just lazing around all winter. Now of course if you have a flight of stairs like mine and a crazy Border Collie – throwing the ball up the stairs and down the hall gets her heart rate going pretty well as she does it 10 to 12 times a session.
So even though it is winter do not forget to get your dog some exercise – those extra 2 to 10 pounds is better left off the dog than being put on because it is too cold to go for a walk outside during the next few months.
A horse is built to move. In the wild a horse is a grazer and the herd moves several miles a day in search of food. We as humans use this to our advantage – in the beginning a horse was used as a mode of transportation, because how they are built to move. Today our recreational use of horses still is in transporting humans through some sort of activity be it trail riding, to endurance riding, to roping steers, to jumping fences – the amount of activities is too numerous to list here, but they all have something in common. They take advantage of how the horse is built to move.
With all the changes we have done to the horse to compete in events maintaining proper movement can be difficult and it requires a team approach. You are the crew chief, the head honcho when it comes to your horse’s care. Of course, there will be people with more knowledge than you about the specifics of your horses movement but ultimately you are the decision maker – it is your horse, you need to process the information and make the best decision you can. In order to do this might I make some recommendations on who needs to be included on your team to allow your horse to have the best opportunity to maintain proper movement.
Nutrition – You barn manager and your vet or nutritionist
Hoof – Your farrier
Teeth – Your equine dentist
Tack Fit – Your saddle fitter/maker
Body – Your chiropractor and massage therapist
Riding – Your instructor and rider
Overall Health – Your veterinarian
Did you notice that I placed Your in front of each of these people? You are in charge – these people are there to guide you and work together as a team. Will they disagree? Many times they will it is up to you as the owner to make the best decisions for your horse. Even though you may have some disagreements all of these people need to be involved in your horses care to give your horse a chance of competing at the best of it ability. Think of your horse as a race car – a high end race car does not go to a race without a race team and neither should your horse.
The reason I bring this up is that many horse owners think of these practitioners only as individuals, however they are a team and you need to treat them as such. A properly working team knows what the other team members are doing in order to get the project (in this case your horse) to the best possible conclusion (in this case the best possible movement to compete). If you think of these practitioners as team members for your horse’s care you will do well to make better decisions in your horse’s care.