Animal Chiropractors – Are they all the same?

Dr. Surasky

Well,  final examinations are now over for the 5 week long Animal Chiropractic course that myself and Dr. McKee have been attending.  I am sad that it is over, since the wealth of knowledge and passion the instructors possessed was unending, and I wanted to absorb as much as possible.    Not only was the specific class time intense (12 hour days with oral, written and practical examinations), but the work outside of class  was also intense (case reports, journal articles to read, practice and studying). It got me thinking that with the lack of specific regulations and the lack of “policing”, how can a potential client determine who is qualified to perform chiropractic care on their animals?  Unfortunately, animal chiropractic is  like the farrier industry – the amount of training can vary from none (self-taught), to a weekend course, to an intense course that often includes an apprenticeship or practical component.  Results will  also vary based on the individual performing the treatment.

Let’s look into the different ways you could evaluate a possible candidate to provide chiropractic care for your horse.  First off, find out if they are certified.  There are 2 main groups that provide certification in the area of animal chiropractic care – the College of Animal Chiropractors (COAC) (http://collegeofanimalchiropractors.org/en/), which is an international organization, and the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (ACVA) (http://www.animalchiropractic.org/). To become certified by either of these two groups, the candidate must be either a human chiropractor (DC) or a veterinarian (DVM).  This ensures the individual has a comprehensive knowledge base to draw from.  As well, they will have complete a regulated course on animal chiropractic that includes both written and practical testing throughout the program. If the candidate has passed the course, they have to write yet another examination in order to be certified.  Finally, to maintain certification a candidate must also complete a specified amount of continuing education every year to ensure they are up to date on the most recent advances and techniques.

If the individual is not certified by the COAC or ACVA, inquire as to how they learned their craft – legitimate courses have extensive information available online, so take a peek to see what was involved.  Speaking from personal experience, a weekend is not enough time to properly learn animal chiropractic even if you are already a veterinarian or a human chiropractor – there is just too much information!

Because of  confidentiality, a certified animal chiropractor is not able to give out clients names for  references, but you can ask other horse owners who they use and if they notice an improvement in their horse.  Finally, try to be there for the adjustment so you can watch it yourself – chiropractic is not adjusting the entire horse- it is adjusting individual segments- so it should not look rough and they should not use any mallets or other external devices.

Although this is not a fail safe method, it can be a good way to ensure the person working on your horse is competent and will do the best job.

Kathryn Surasky, DVM

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