Maintenance care is somewhat standard in “human” chiropractic. Many people want to prevent the major issue they initially came in with from recurring. To do this, they make periodic visits to their chiropractor and make sure everything is functioning correctly – even if they are not in a lot of pain. It’s no different than getting the oil changed in your car every 3,000 miles or your tires rotated. Maintenance is also a good idea for your pet. Why is this?
Our pets don’t show pain typically
By the time an animal sees us, it is typically in a good amount of pain. The reason for this is that animals are programmed to not show pain unless it is very advanced. From an evolutionary perspective, this is of massive benefit. If a predator sees an animal limping in the wild, they become a target for a meal. Therefore, our pets evolved to now show pain until they couldn’t compensate any more.
Maintenance care is a great way to assess the spine for issues before they become an issue down the road. Often, we find sensitivity, spasm, and areas in the spine not moving well that can snowball if left uncorrected. We actually see this frequently, even if a dog looks healthy.
However, we mainly see dogs initially that are in a reasonable amount of pain. Once we get them through the acute stage of pain (usually not more than a handful of adjustments) we recommend a periodic check up to help prevent the problem from recurring. Certain conditions, such as IVDD and back pain respond well to this. The reason being, once your pet has an issue with the spine it is more likely to flare up again down the road.
How often should an animal be seen for maintenance?
This isn’t a one size fits all answer. We have many patients that bring their puppy in once every 3 months or so just to get checked. The majority of the time, a puppy with 3 months in between visits still doesn’t require a ton of work! However, an older may not have the same level of stability in the spine due to wear and tear over a lifetime. Many of our larger breed older dogs come in every 4-6 weeks, while a smaller breed may be alright for about 8 months. It is truly based on how well a dog responds on an individual basis.
Where can I find an animal chiropractor and what should I look for?
We get this question from people frequently. You are going to want to visit a chiropractor or veterinarian that has been through a reputable program such as Options for Animals, the animal chiropractic program at Parker University, and Healing Oasis. In addition, to training at one of these programs I’d recommend someone who board certified with the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association or the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association.
As you can see, maintenance care can be beneficial for a dog. It would be great if they could let us know if they are experiencing discomfort. However, a trained animal chiropractor can assess the spine and correct any issues before they become bigger issues down the road.