Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic Port Elizabeth
Veterinary Chiropractic

What is Veterinary or Animal Chiropractic?

Veterinary or animal chiropractic is a manual method of treatment used to complement traditional veterinary medicine and surgery. As a manual method of treatment, veterinary chiropractic seeks to restore and maintain the proper functioning of the joints of the spine and extremities. In making adjustments to these joints animal chiropractic aims to ensure the best possible function of your dog or catís nervous system and body. It is therefore a holistic approach, recognising the connection between biomechanical dysfunction and the entire nervous system throughout the body.

As a complementary method of treatment veterinary chiropractic is used alongside traditional veterinary medicine and surgery. It provides additional means of diagnosing and treating spinal, biomechanical, and musculoskeletal problems, and has proven successful in eliminating sources of acute or chronic pain syndromes. This is because of the connection between the nervous system and the rest of the body. Everything that happens in your dog or cat is controlled by nerves. That means that anything which impacts the nervous system will impact the entire body. This is particularly evident when our dogs or cats have some kind of spinal problem, since together with the brain, the spinal cord acts as the command centre of the nervous system. But itís not just movement that can be affected when our dogs or cats have a problem with their spine. Rather, since the nerves which branch off the spinal cord go to all the muscles and organs, a problem in the spine can impact the entire wellbeing and quality of life of your pet. Veterinary chiropractic provides treatments which seek to restore optimal function of the joints of the spine and extremities, enabling efficient communication between the nerves and all parts of your dog or catís body. As such the therapy offered by veterinary chiropractic can benefit healthy and athletic animals as well as those that are injured or sick, since maintenance of proper structural alignment permits optimal performance in terms of movement, stance, and flexibility.

How do I know if my dog or cat needs Veterinary Chiropractic care?

Whenever you recognise that your pet is showing signs of unusual symptoms or behaviours, it is important to consult your primary veterinarian. Some commonly seen signs and symptoms that might indicate that your dog or cat could benefit from veterinary chiropractic include:

Trouble getting up from a resting position
Reluctance to walk, run, climb stairs, or play
Changes in behaviour
Sensitivity to being touched, lifted, or avoiding being stroked or patted
Lameness or changes in gait
Licking or chewing  paws
Changes in eating or urinating/defaecating

What should I expect from Veterinary Chiropractic treatment?

The first expectation you should have is that your veterinary chiropractor will work closely with your primary veterinarian and/or the referring veterinarian. This is important as the veterinarian who looks after your pet will be able to provide the veterinary chiropractor with a detailed case history, and will provide the primary or referring veterinarian with a report of her findings and treatments, ensuring that all those invested in the health of your dog or cat are fully informed and able to provide the best possible care at all times.

In addition to getting information from the primary or referring veterinarian, the veterinary chiropractor will seek to fill out her understanding by discussing the case history with you, before undertaking an examination which will include evaluating posture, gait analysis, vertebral and extremity static and motion palpation.

Having discussed the case history with you and completed the examination, you should expect that the veterinary chiropractor will determine what adjustments your dog or cat may require. It is on the basis of this determination that the veterinary chiropractor will move on to treat your dog or cat.

Treatment will involve the veterinary chiropractor using her hands to apply a high force, low amplitude thrust specific to the anatomy of the joint so as to restore normal movement. Sometimes your dog or cat may experience brief discomfort during an adjustment, and may display some soreness afterwards. However, veterinary chiropractic performed by a properly trained professional is safe and effective.

What should I expect after Veterinary Chiropractic treatment?

After the treatment it is normal to see an immediate improvement within the first 24 to 72 hours, though this depends on a number of variables including the nature of the problem under treatment, the age of your dog or cat, and the length of time since the first onset of the problem. Following initial improvement you may recognise a recurrence of the initial complaint. This is not unusual and it may take a number of treatments to resolve the initial complaint as part of the bodyís healing process. The veterinary chiropractor will give you guidance on what follow-up adjustments may be necessary and how often. Additionally, she will provide you with guidance on other aspects of home care that may contribute to your petís healing (e.g. rest, therapeutic exercises, etc.).

Following a treatment, it is advisable to:

Allow your pet to rest for a few days; any training should start again in 3-4 days
Prevent rough play with other pets
Keep your dog on a lead for about 1 week

Why choose a Veterinary Chiropractor?

Chiropractic adjustments require expertise and training, and should only be performed by qualified professionals, either a veterinarian or a trained animal chiropractor.  It is important that these professionals have been educated in animal anatomy and chiropractic techniques, and have a knowledge and understanding of orthopaedic and neurological conditions in animal species. As an educated and trained professional the veterinary chiropractor can work with other professionals in the veterinary world to ensure that your dog or cat is provided with the best possible care, whether her services are being employed to enhance performance, address injury or illness, or to provide preventative care. Remember that it is important to contact your veterinarian initially to assess your dog or cat for any underlying medical condition that could be causing symptoms such as those highlighted above.

Where can I find my nearest Veterinary Chiropractor?

At Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic our mission is to provide you with the best medical and surgical care for your pet. Located in Port Elizabeth we offer veterinary or animal chiropractic, together with a range of other complementary treatments such as physical rehabilitation, acupuncture, and pain management. Our vet is registered with the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association (IVCA). These treatments are available to clients of Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic by appointment, and to clients of other veterinary practices on a referral basis.


The veterinary chiropractic service is offered within the normal working hours of Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic. For clients of Southern Cross making an appointment is as simple as calling reception and asking to make a veterinary chiropractic appointment. For your convenience after the initial evaluation, we offer a day service. This means that you can leave your pet with us for the day while he or she receives treatment.

If you are registered with another veterinary practice, but think that veterinary chiropractic might be of benefit to your pet, please speak to your vet regarding referral. All treatment is by veterinary referral as the health of your pet is our top priority. Veterinary referral ensures that there is clear and complete communication between the professionals who care for your pet and makes sure that he or she is safe at all times. Throughout your petís treatment we will give your vet regular reports on his or her progress, and your vet will remain in charge of all other aspects of your petís care, such as the supply of any medications, vaccinations, supplements and diets. To make an appointment ask your vet to complete our veterinary referral form and then contact us to make a booking.

If you have any questions, feel free to give us a ring.

Veterinary referral form for veterinary chiropractic for your pet

New client registration form for veterinary chiropractic

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