Frequently Asked Questions - Animal Chiropractic

Q: Is chiropractic safe for my dog, cat, or horse?

A: Yes, when performed by a veterinarian certified in animal chiropractic with the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA). This organization provides certification for veterinarians and chiropractors who, after extensive study, have shown themselves to be proficient in anatomy, chiropractic theory, and practical chiropractic techniques.


It is not recommended to utilize a veterinarian or chiropractor who has simply attended a "short course" (a day, weekend, or week-long course) in animal chiropractic.  Ask the practitioner that you are considering using what kind and how many hours of training he/she has had. Dr. Mueller adjusts a cat Equine Chiropractic Chiropractic Cat Karen Mueller, DVM

Q: What can I expect during a chiropractic treatment for my small animal or horse?

A: Dogs: The dog usually stands on a non-skid mat on the floor with the owner holding his head and reassuring him if needed. (Small dogs can stand on a mat on an adjustable examination table.) The veterinarian introduces herself to the dog, then works from the dog's hindquarters, getting him used to her touch and voice. Dr. Mueller performs some loosening and relaxing muscle work, motion palpation, then a chiropractic examination and adjustment from this position.



Cats: The cat usually stands or sits on a moveable mat on the examination table. (Cats prefer to be turned on a mat, rather than be asked to turn around.) Dr. Mueller introduces herself to the cat, then gets him used to her touch and voice. She then motion palpates the kitty, and does her chiropractic examination and adjusting. One of the rules of adjusting cats is to "get in and get out", as although most cats will allow and even enjoy chiropractic, some will grow tired of it and impatient in short order.

Horses: The owner has the horse stand on level, secure footing, in a safe area where he is relaxed, usually his stall, the aisleway, or the arena. Dr. Mueller introduces herself to the horse, then accustoms him to her voice and touch. She checks for muscle trigger points, motion palpates the horse, and adjusts him as she performs her chiropractic examination. She uses a portable mounting block to achieve the correct position for adjusting. She checks the horse's extremities (head, legs, and tail) for malpositions and manipulates them accordingly. Of special note in horses is the sternum, or breastbone. Dr. Mueller has seen tremendous improvement in horses when a malpositioned sternum is corrected with chiropractic.


Q: Will my dog enjoy his chiropractic treatment?

A: Yes! It is the rare dog that isn't excited to come to the clinic for his chiropractic treatment. Most dogs enjoy everything about chiropractic, from seeing the veterinarian they have become familiar with through regular care, getting petted and praised, having body work done, and getting a treat (if it's OK with their owner, of course).

Q: How do you adjust a large animal like a horse?

A: Although it is true that adjustments on large animals take a little more strength than on small animals, the most important aspect is that the adjustor must position herself above the horse to achieve the appropriate "line of correction" for the adjustment. This usually means standing on a mounting block or hay bales to achieve the necessary height. As long as the horse is reasonably cooperative, the adjustments are not difficult.

Q: How long will an initial appointment or adjustment take?

A: Initial appointmentsfor cats and dogs usually take 35- 45 minutes. If radiographs (x-rays) are available for review it may take a little longer. Follow-up appointments take about 20 minutes.


Initial appointments for horses usually take 45-60 minutes depending on if gait analysis and/or saddle fit assessment is done.


Dr. Mueller offers special prices for equine chiropractic clinics or performance dog clinics.

Q: How do I find a veterinarian certified in animal chiropractic if I don't live near Bellingham, Washington?

A: Use the web to search for a AVCA certified veterinarian in your area and ask you regular Veterinarian for a referral.

Q: My dog is already on glucosamine. Is there anything else I can do to help him be more comfortable and move better?

A: Dr. Mueller has recently added Adequan to her practice. Adequan is a polysulfated glycosaminoglycan (PSGAG) which has been shown to significantly improve range of motion and orthopedic score during studies, and is used to control signs associated with degenerative and/or traumatic arthritis in dogs. She gives it by intramuscular injection 1-2 times a week for 4-8 weeks, then as needed for maintenance (suggested monthly). Of course, this treatment comes with lots of treats to keep it fun!

In Washington State it is illegal to charge for chiropractic services on any animal by someone other than a veterinarian, or a chiropractor who is under the direct supervision of a veterinarian.