By Sarah Obeid
HUNTERSVILLE – It’s not only humans that experience discomfort from a misaligned spine. Pet owners are turning to animal chiropractic care to improve the lives of their furry friends.
Routine animal adjustment ensures a healthy spine and nervous system. Veterinarians see it as a new way to relieve your pet’s pain – because in their eyes – animals, too, are entitled to long, happy lives.
The LakeCross Veterinary Hospital of Huntersville has been offering animal chiropractic services for about two years.
Dr. Jean Tuttle, who works at the hospital, says chiropractic care can be beneficial for the health of animals.
Tuttle is one of the only certified animal chiropractors in the Lake Norman region, as well as Cabarrus, Iredell and Lincoln counties. After completing a graduate chiropractic program, she recently earned a certificate in veterinary spinal manipulation.
She treats a wide range of clients. Tuttle provides care to older and younger dogs, agility dogs, sick and healthy dogs and rescue animals. She and her staff even operate on cats.
“How we go about treating an animal's spine starts with an exam. We check for mobility in the joints and front limbs and whether the spine moves as it should,” Tuttle said. “We use our hands to feel down the spine to look for areas with high resistance.”
Tuttle also specializes in rehabilitation, which helps dogs recover from injuries in soft tissues and improves mobility.
“The business here is very successful because we have many tools to help our patients,” she said.
In addition to working hard in her spinal therapy practice, Tuttle also helped establish 4Paws Animal Rehabilitation and Wellness Clinic, a subsidiary of LakeCross Veterinary Hospital.
The clinic offers education on the whole health of an animal. Pet owners can be part of in-depth nutritional discussions where they might learn what to do for an elderly dog with arthritis.
The center provides information and services to keep pets healthy, such as supplements, diet plans, physical therapy and athletic conditioning.
Tuttle believes spinal manipulation therapy is worth the time and money. She says it is very effective as it minimizes pain and increases healing without prescribing drugs or other oral methods.
As many as 70 percent of pet owners seek alternative health care, according to the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association.
“I know more and more people are seeking chiropractic care because they see the limitation of drugs and surgery,” said Gene Giggleman, a certified AVCA doctor. “There is a place in animal health care for drugs and surgery, but in my practice our view is chiropractic first, drugs and surgery second.”
Tuttle and Giggleman foresee growth for animal chiropractic businesses.
“In this particular region, it would be an extension of the regular veterinary care,” Tuttle said. “The practice is a very valuable tool for owners and their pets.”
Some pet owners may not have the means to afford additional medical services for their pets outside of regular vet care. Others might hold the mentality that massages, exercise and chiropractic care goes too far – only to spoil and pamper the animals.
Tuttle and other chiropractors say deciding what is too far is a very personal decision. To them, chiropractic therapy is important because it promotes a healthy wellbeing.
“I know people wouldn’t spend money on a massage for an animal or even themselves. They may not see the importance of it. If financial constraints are there, then you should do what is necessary,” Tuttle said. “If you have the means to provide your pet with this alternative form of medical care, then do it. There is no right or wrong answer.”
Although Tuttle strongly supports chiropractic care, some dogs may not require chiropractic care or need further help from a neurologist.
“Our care starts off with an exam and from that point, we determine what is needed,” she said.
Regardless, Tuttle’s patients have no complaints.
“Owners will say their dogs end up more energetic with an early response,” Tuttle said. “The treatment seems to be working quite well.”
Need some estimates?
• Referral evaluations (health and home environment history, physical exam & initial chiropractic exam to develop a care plan) – $70.
• Single treatments – $60.
• Eight visits package – $425.
For more information on pricing and insurance, call 704-948-6300.