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Dynamic Chiropractic – February 12, 2009, Vol. 27, Issue 04

Talking to the Animals: The Benefits of Animal Chiropractic

By William L. Inman, BS, DVM, CVCP

In the well-known book (and now film) series, Dr. Doolittle has the gift of being able to communicate directly with animals. In a sense, more than 4,000 chiropractors in the U.S. alone share Dr. Doolittle's abilities. They have been trained in, and are practicing, animal adjusting. They are well-aware of the value of animal adjusting and chiropractic care. Everything from the paralyzed dachshund to the golden retriever with a anterior cruciate rupture will benefit from these therapies. Hip, hock and stifle lameness in horses is routinely addressed, as is equine laminitis and navicular disease.

Indeed, practically any type of musculoskeletal problem, including lameness, paralysis and paresis, will respond. If a medicine, herb, homeopathic remedy or diet can reduce or treat a condition, an adjustment can be directed at the cause that holds the condition in place. Along with musculoskeletal disease, autonomic and endocrine disease can be treated, such as colic in the horse, chronic inflammatory bowel disease in the cat and idiopathic canine epilepsy, just to mention a few.

Why Are Practitioners Attracted to This Field?

In the words of Michael Reuben, DC, CVCP, "Animal adjusting changed my life. I make a six-digit income without insurance companies, office or overhead. The vets I work with treat me as an equal. I started part-time and then this thing just took off. I'm as busy as I want to be and I rarely adjust people anymore. My daughter thinks I have the 'coolest job' in the world because I fix animals."

Dr. Reuben practices in many states. He is affiliated with several large animal vets in Southern California and Colorado, and is on staff at the Sherman Oaks Veterinary Hospital. He is typical of chiropractors who have discovered this field.

Who Can Do It?

Generally, licensed chiropractors can legally adjust animals in every state, with some stipulations unique to each state. If the chiropractor is working with a veterinary affiliate, the procedure occurs under their veterinary license and is not "animal or veterinary chiropractic," but rather "musculoskeletal manipulation (MSM)" or generally "animal adjusting." Nationally, a chiropractor can adjust animals under state-licensed veterinary affiliation. The Veterinary Practice Acts allow this, as with all the other paraprofessional practices the licensed veterinarian relies on daily.

Interestingly enough, if chiropractors contact their state board and inquire if their license allows them to do chiropractic on animals, they will be told that they cannot, as their practice license is "limited to the human spine". Chiropractic adjustments can only be performed on humans. If the same practitioners call their state veterinary board and inquire if they can adjust animals, they will be told they are not allowed to practice veterinary medicine without a veterinary license.

This is not really a gray area, as the laws have dictated that chiropractic procedures applied to animals are not chiropractic by definition, and chiropractic licensure is not directly involved. Rather, the field is referred to as "animal adjusting" and when performed with veterinary affiliation, it is not only legal, but also very profitable on many levels.

Safety and Effectiveness

The safety, efficacy and minimal cost of animal adjustments relative to allopathic veterinary approaches to these conditions (medicine, surgery, euthanasia) make this approach a moral and professional imperative for the veterinary practitioner. Therefore, not using animal-adjusting technologies is far more harmful than sticking to classic allopathic methods. This has been proven over and over in clinical practice.

The alternative for the pet with a failure of allopathic care is often chronic debilitating disease, severe medicine side effects or euthanasia. Animal adjusting is a very good choice for pet owners trying to do the very best they can for their family member.

Sixty percent of every case that walks through the doors of a veterinary practice is caused by the vertebral subluxation complex. The veterinary profession does not recognize this nerve interference and seek to ameliorate its effects with medicines and surgery. There is no discussion of chiropractic methods in any of the veterinarian's standard medical training. The vets who have been trained to recognize and treat vertebral subluxation complex have learned this technology in postgraduate seminars delivered in the private sector.

Patients have discovered chiropractic as a valuable healing technology for themselves and often turn to their chiropractor to provide this care for their pets. This is after they have approached their veterinarian, who has no training in animal adjusting and can only recommend medical and surgical alternatives that have poor success rates.

It has been conservatively estimated that there are more than 238 million dogs, cats and horses in the U.S. that need an adjustment today (clinically significant subluxations). If every veterinarian and chiropractor did nothing but adjust domestic animals all day long, they could not make a dent in the population of potential patients. There is absolutely no competition in this field.

Except for vets who adjust, most veterinary practitioners do not know about animal adjusting. If asked, these doctors consider animal adjusting to be animal chiropractic, which involves, in their mind, something along the lines of "popping bones back into joint with a resounding crack." Once disabused of this misconception, the veterinarian has a whole world of treatment possibilities open up to them. Animal adjusting becomes an incredible subspecialty in the veterinary practice. Veterinarians are also feeling the economic crunch, as their services are deemed "discretionary income" and the lower-cost, higher-efficacy adjusting procedures saves lives and clients. Word-of-mouth accolades drive new clients into the veterinarian's practice.


The practice of animal adjusting generates $45-$190 per adjustment, depending on species/modalities and location. An average of five to seven adjustments per case are routinely experienced and the practice self-generates without any promotion other than word-of-mouth. After acute care is completed, maintenance care is provided two to four times per year. For fairly obvious reasons, client compliance is easily much higher for animals than their human owners under chiropractic care. Pet owners will suffer their own ill health before they let their pets go without this care. Animal adjusting services are done on a cash basis. There is no billing, third-party payments or insurance to consider.

More Information

To learn more, contact the organizations that have been training practitioners and working within the legal and professional field of animal adjusting for years:

Dr. William Inman graduated from Washington State University and opened his own clinical veterinary practice. He has personally adjusted more than 75,000 clinical cases and trained 7,400 doctors worldwide. He is the president/CEO of the IAVCP and the AAAA, and the originator of veterinary orthopedic manipulation (VOM). He can be reached at .

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