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The art & science of Chiropractic...

Like people, animals suffer from back, neck, pelvic and musculoskeletal problems, and like us, they can benefit from chiropractic manipulation. Tony Gilmore, Animal PRO for the McTimoney Chiropractic Association explains manipulation for peak performance.

Any animal in competition needs to be functioning at its peak of ability. In Grand Prix Racing, for example, it would be unthinkable for a Formula One team to put its cars away after a race and not fine tune them before the next one. Yet day after day we ask our animal competitors to do just this and still expect them to turn in another record beating performance.

Many competitive animals are now regularly treated to avoid the risk of an under-functioning musculo-skeletal system from interfering with their ability to produce the kind of flawless effort that is needed to win events in these increasingly competitive times. Racehorses such as Suny Bay and Katarino are maintained by a highly skilled team effort which includes attention from a McTimoney Chiropractor. Keeping these animals running requires an attention to detail that is practically obsessive and their spinal health is of paramount importance.

Many racing greyhounds are maintained in peak condition with manipulation. Show dogs, coursing dogs, police dogs, working dogs and last but of particular interest here, agility dogs.

 The level of performance required to win today is several orders of magnitude greater than just a few years ago and a similar attention to detail that keeps our racehorses running is required in agility dogs.

Kay McCarroll & BensonWhy Chiropractic?
Manipulation, whatever it is called, is dedicated to maintaining the correct, integrated functioning of the musculo-skeletal system. Chiropractic is one form of physical therapy that seems to work well, and above all easily, with dogs.  Inevitably in their daily practice and movement agility dogs will come under levels of physical stress that the average pet dog would take months, perhaps years, to accumulate. In addition, we will ask levels of achievement from them that are only dreamt of by the dog gently twitching by the fireside. Tight turning, jumping accurately at speed, bending poles - all activities that require an exceptional level of physical co-ordination and a perfectly working spinal mechanism. Chiropractic, with its gentle manipulative technique can help dogs to achieve this and, more importantly, maintain it.

Many small dysfunctions come about from the inevitable accidents and incidents in an agility dog's training regime. Crufts 1999, for example, was notorious for the slipperiness of the surface on which the teams were asked to compete. Slipping at speed, in hot blood with the adrenaline peaking is a common way for spinal distortions to occur. Recognised and corrected early these problems rarely become long-term. Ignored or unrecognised, they can cause chronic gait abnormalities that in extreme cases can end a dog's competitive career. Most animal chiropractors recommend maintenance treatments periodically to prevent problems occurring or, at least to catch them early before they have caused too much trouble.

 How is it done?
First the spine, pelvis and other relevant joints are analysed for any misalignments in the joints or spasm in the associated muscles.

Then the problem areas are treated with precise and rapid manipulations to correct misalignment and reduce muscle spasm. Practitioners use only their hands for analysis and adjustment. After care usually includes rest and/or limited exercise for a few days.

When to Seek Help
Indications include:-

  1. Lameness after a fall or other accident where alternative causes have been ruled out
  2. Uncharacteristic changes in performance, behaviour or temperament
  3. Encountering difficulties on obstacles or tight course
  4. Crying out in pain when getting up
  5. Difficulty in climbing stairs or jumping into cars
  6. Showing discomfort when stroked along their backs
  7. Long-backed, short-legged breeds which are overweight

Animals may only be treated upon referral of the owner's veterinary surgeon.

The McTimoney Chiropractic School in Oxford carries on the work developed by the late John McTimoney in the 1950s, an innovator who applied human chiropractic techniques to animals. Currently it runs an externally validated two-year postgraduate training course for animal manipulators, a world's first in animal manipulation. Its graduates are members of the McTimoney Chiropractic Association which maintains a register of all qualified practitioners who have successfully completed the course. Its members all work with veterinary referral and are fully insured. Qualified practitioners use the initials AMC after their name.

You can find a list of qualified McTimoney animal chiropractors on or get more information on training in McTimoney Chiropractic from:-

The Administrator,
McTimoney Chiropractic Association
3 Oxford Court, St. James Road, Brackley, Northants NN13 7XY
Tel: 01280-705050  Fax: 01280-700117


Pictured above: Kay E. McCarroll, DHP, DC, AMC, MMCA treating Benson at the Hendon Natural Health Centre, 12 Golders Rise, London NW4 2HR. Tel: 0181-202 9747

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