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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

It’s Functional Neurology!

by Dr. Margaret L. Meier (Radle) DVM, CVSMT

Veterinrary Spinal Manipulative Therapy (VSMT)? Is that like chiropractic for Animals? Will it hurt my animal? Do you use hammers, mallets, or other scary devices? How come I didn’t know this was available? These are questions I face every day in my veterinary practice. As readers of Second Opinion, we are all familiar with chiropractic care for ourselves and our beloved family members. However, what many of us don’t realize is that this care is also available for our beloved animal companions.

Animal chiropractic traces its history back to Dr. Sharon Willoughby Blake and the late 1980s. Dr. Willoughby held dual degrees as a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) and a doctor of chiropractic (DC). Dr. Willoughby began to teach fellow licensed veterinarians and chiropractors the science and skills necessary to treat animals with veterinary chiropractic. The American and International Veterinary Chiropractic Associations were organized to help ensure that certified doctors are able to demonstrate both a clinical and practical knowledge base via a boards examination after they complete the 270-plus-hour post-graduate training from one of the approved educational facilities. “Earning certification from the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association represents a significant professional achievement. AVCA certification makes an important statement about professional competence that is recognized by the profession, the public, and some regulatory bodies. (” Visit for more information regarding the education and certification process and to find a certified animal chiropractor near you.

What Is Animal Chiropractic?

According to the website, a “chiropractic adjustment is defined as short lever, high velocity controlled thrust by hand or instrument that is directed at specific articulations to correct vertebral subluxations.” Animal chiropractors evaluate their patient’s neurological status, stance, gait, and range of motion in the vertebral and extremity joints as well as the cranial sutures. Along with their chiropractic examination, doctors determine the best treatment options for your pet based on the entire picture they obtain from you and your pet on the day of the treatment.

Why Animal Chiropractic and What Are the Indications for Chiropractic Care in My Animal?

There are probably almost as many reasons to seek chiropractic care for your pet as there are various pet breeds and species. Horses, cats, and dogs are the most common animals to receive chiropractic care, but I have also worked on birds, guinea pigs, and ferrets too! Some of the indications are neck, back, leg, and tail pain; muscle spasms, nerve problems, and injuries from slips, falls, and accidents. Your animal may also benefit from chiropractic care if it is having difficulty chewing or recently underwent a surgical procedure such as a dental prophylaxis or spay. Animal chiropractic can help with chronic internal medicine disorders that are not resolving as expected; and/or geriatric conditions such as arthritis and/or incontinence. And, of course, animal chiropractic can help keep your competitive athletic animal performing at its best through regular maintenance of joint and spinal health.

What Can I Expect after an Adjustment?

Following an adjustment, many animals will show immediate improvement. There can be a 24 to 48 hour period of tiredness, and occasionally medication to relieve muscle spasms and/or reduce inflammation may be prescribed. Some animals require a few sessions to resolve acute pain, and with chronic health problems, several sessions may be required to maintain and re-establish normal function of the joints and nervous system. Often, the veterinary chiropractor will also prescribe post-adjustment exercises and/or recommend a follow-up visit with a veterinary massage therapist. To obtain the best outcome possible it is critical that you share all the information with the veterinary chiropractor about your pet’s care from all health care providers, including diet, supplements, and any medications your animal may currently be taking.

It is also important to remember that VSMT is not a replacement for regular preventative wellness care for your animal companion. At Animal Wellness Center of Buffalo Valley we work with you (and your routine veterinarian) to provide the best traditional and holistic veterinary care possible for your animal companion.

Dr. Margaret Meier (Radle) graduated in 1996 from the University of Wisconsin School of veterinary medicine and received her certification in veterinary spinal manipulative therapy in 2005 from the Healing Oasis Wellness Center in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. She was certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association in 2007 and the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association in 2012. Dr. Margaret currently resides on her family’s centurion farm with her daughter, Emilia, and their menagerie of four-legged companions. She can be reached at her practice Animal Wellness Center of Buffalo Valley in Mondovi, Wisconsin.

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