Why Chiropractic for Dogs?

Why might your dog need chiropractic care?

For the same reasons that many of us humans need chiropractic care!

Sometimes we can see a loss of function in our dog’s physical performance. This is more important in our pets than is in us. A dog’s ability to get around and participate in family activities determines not only quality of life, but often longevity. I have seen numerous dogs of various ages, re-invigorated and able to get back out for family activities with the help of chiropractic adjustments.

Many things cause physical problems that we don’t even notice in our animals. Consider collars, especially in dogs and puppies who pull, think of the playfulness of puppies, and the roughness of older animals at play. Think about the distances that your dog leaps when chasing a ball, playing, or jumping out of the car.  We ask our performance dogs to do a lot in obedience trials, conformation showing, and agility training. Our dogs can also have clear injuries from a fall, a collision, a mis-step, or a hereditary condition like hip dysplasia. There are endless reasons to keep our pets healthy with chiropractic care.

Above all else, our pets experience our stresses as well. They may hold tension in their body as a result of stress in the household, stress from an illness, and of course from their physical environment.

How do dogs respond to chiropractic care?

They often respond faster than humans!  Their bodies and brains are created primarily for motion, so when motion is restored, they USE IT!  Compare that to humans who go back to our cars, and our desks, and our sedentary lifestyle. Our human brains have more space dedicated to critical thinking and emotional depth than to movement (PLEASE NOTE dear people, movement does fuel those parts of our brain! Movement IS still essential to us). Our dogs stretch, yawn, and take big deep breaths whenever it feels good to do so, not only when it’s socially acceptable.  They also don’t worry about tomorrow, stress about yesterday, or consider giving anything but love.  The dogs that I see are also very well cared for and get better exercise, water, and love than most of my human patients.  In short, they are primed for healing with chiropractic care and require far less than humans do to see incredible gains!

I look forward to speaking with you and setting up your pet’s initial chiropractic exam! Use the contact form or call me at  (519) 276-8800.

Why all the changes: Purpose, “Pission”, Passion & Ritual

I am working on some changes. You’ll likely start to see them showing up through this blog, on my fb page and on my website. I will be broadening the the scope to be a more complete representation of what I’m about and what I wish to offer the world.  Let me begin by sharing my current journey of Purpose, “Pission”, and Passion.

Purpose

Do you know what your purpose is? I don’t… well not quite yet anyway. I almost do.  I’m working on it. I sure do have passion and have a great general direction or sense of my purpose, and yet I cannot fully articulate it.  If I lack a clear purpose, it means that on some days, tired days, days that my inner fire is burning low, or when I’m highly distracted by life, its easy to lose focus and just put time in until the day is done. I don’t mean that I don’t care, that I’m not doing my best, or that I’m not doing a good job at life, it simply means that I’m not sharing my potential with the world.  Interestingly, in 10+years of watching people in practice, I suggest that the majority of us don’t share our full potential with the world.  This pattern became clear to me upon attending an exciting conference put on by the Alliance for Chiropractic.  The ever inspiring Dr. Gilles LaMarche spoke about purpose and the impact that it has on our life and on how much we can be of service to others.  Some people would say that I do provide a service, and I’m proud to have done so for 10+ years. More importantly, I know I can up my game.  I know having a clear purpose will help. A clear purpose hones my ability to care for my family, to filter energy sucking parts of life, to give my all to my patients and to reach out to a larger community to create bigger change for those around me. In short, a purpose statement makes the bumps in life less about me and more about the journey to fulfill that purpose.  I haven’t yet managed to articulate my purpose entirely, and when I can, you’ll be the first to know. Here is my purpose statement so far: My purpose is to inspire, encourage, and empower those I serve to engage in their life and health and to live in balance so that I can be present, connected and passionate at home with my loved ones! (I am closing in on a purpose statement here! Not done yet!)

“Pission” & Passion

If my purpose isn’t clear, my fire burns low and I’m most likely to be frustrated and worn out by the state of the world and by the level of health and engagement around me.  Again, Dr. LaMarche is the man who shared the word “Pission” with me.  “Pission” is passion that is fuelled by a little bit of “pissed off”.  Why pissed off?  I’m pissed that all around me we are satisfied with feeling or doing “fine”, with thinking that one day we will get off the couch, that a problem in life will just “go away”, that we are more interested in complaining or focusing on our devices than engaging with the world around us.  I want those around me in my community to have passion in and for their life, to know they have choices, and to wake up with a purpose!  I am dedicating the next few weeks to lighting my fire by clearly outlining my purpose. Of course over time it may evolve and change. It will still be my guide.

Ritual

Just like anyone else, change is hard and we have so many excuses about why we can’t do what someone else is doing.  As a mom, I have a plethora of excuses I could use that would all seem legitimate. I have realized the excuses don’t serve me or any of us. We simply need to tailor our needs and goals to our life as it evolves.  As such, as I start this journey I have implemented a morning ritual.  While I dream of a morning routine that is structured and efficient, being a nursing mom with two small children, our morning is anything but routine. I previously thought lack of routine was a limitation, now I know I can savour the time, embrace it, and enhance it with some additional rituals!

My heart & my soul: cuddling, intention statement & purpose statement

First thing is first, and nursing and cuddling take priority over all else to start the day, which is how my heart wakes up.  I have added a few key elements which include a morning statement said to myself prior to opening my eyes about my intention for the day.  This intention for the day has been most helpful in those 5am wake-ups!  The intention statement is followed by some of the words that are slowly morphing into my purpose statement.  By the time I have repeated these statements in my mind, I generally have one or two kids in my arms and a smile on my face and in my heart!

My mind: reading

Next up, somewhere in the morning, maybe while the kids are playing or eating, I take the time (while the kids don’t notice) to read a few pages of something informative and something inspiring, to wake up my soul and my mind. Sometimes I read something chiropractic, sometimes its general health or wellbeing, sometimes its philosophy, and currently, I read a lot on the science of purpose.

My brain: movement

Additionally, I move my body for 10-15min. I might chose yoga, maybe a dance party with the kids, maybe I run through some of the life exercises that I recommend to patients. Ultimately, I move my whole body in a pleasurable way with the goal of waking my brain (more on this in a later blog). This is not the extent of my movement or exercise for the day, rather a way to engage my brain!  I have now woken my heart, my mind, my soul, and my brain and am ready for YOU for the day!  I am ready to share my passion and fulfill my purpose for the day!  In addition, I often often also savour (or drink while reading a board book) a cup of coffee because, well, it makes me smile, and that is lovely too!

“Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

I’ll wrap up with this beautiful statement by Marianne Williamson that was on my desk throughout my post secondary education. It also lights a fire in my heart. (If the word God doesn’t speak to you, please substitute for universe, world, you name it, whatever you want to use in place, I believe the sentiment rings true, just as it does for me.)

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Please share you purpose, your passion, your “pission”, your routines or rituals that help fuel your fire.

Thanks for being part of my tribe. I look forward to sharing more of my journey with you.

Spring TLC

Happy Spring!!! I mean Hello Winter!!!  I mean happy Spring!  Oh… winter again… what season are we in?  Your animals are asking the same question!!! They are stepping in snow, dirt, COLD water, ice… a bit of everything!  And most of the time, at least some of their surfaces are incredibly uneven and VERY slippery this time of year, and without the buffer of a little snow on top.  We are giddy to get out, as are they… but a couple of things to keep in mind for you and your pets before your SPRING out the door!

1. Watch for ice!

If you can slip, so can your animals!  Yes, they have 4 legs so typically don’t land on their butts as often as we do and on occasion if we are walking them on a leash or lead, they may even be keeping us on our toes!  I know Jasper has done that for me on many occasions!  But the ice can still be hard on their feet, cause little twists and tweaks that they feel throughout their bodies.  Just this morning I have seen more of my healthy dogs who are adjusted to maintain their health with slight problems or subluxations in their paws, limbs, and low back, just from slipping on the ice!  Be aware of the surfaces they are walking on and the extra stress this causes their body.  Give them the TLC they need, including chiropractic!  Seasonally is a great time for a chiropractic checkup for your pets, even without symptoms, to keep them at their very best for a long time!

2. Monitor their fitness

Yes, they get cabin fever just like us!  And boy is that epidemic this year in humans AND animals!  But remember just like us they may have lost some fitness or gained some weight over the winter, so its important to remember to ease them back into activity or work gently, just like us!

3. Have fun!!!!

There is a glimmer of hope starting in the form of the smells and sounds of spring (have you heard the birds chirping?) and so its time to have fun!  Yes it may be raining sometimes, but its at least possible to get out and not freeze, so get out and have fun!  It will bring a glow to your cheeks and your animal’s heart as well!  Time we bust out of the house or the office or wherever we have hibernated and embrace the spring with all the joy of the birds!  Have fun playing or doing whatever you love to do outside… we’ve earned it!!!!

Animal Obesity Epidemic

In the short time that I have been seeing animals in my chiropractic practice, I have come to the same realization as many of my veterinary colleagues.  Our pets are fat!  It’s not much wonder that they are fat and that we don’t notice as our culture is one where obesity is commonplace.  Of course our animals will have a similar lifestyle as us.  The problem is this: too much food, too many treats, and too little exercise.  And we think, what does it matter, they’re just a little “round-ish”… what’s the harm…

What’s the harm!?  Its only life and death!  (And yes, that does apply to us humans).  If I seem to exaggerate, it’s only because we are afraid to be so blunt in our society.  Obesity, poor food choices, and lack of exercise are linked to endless health issues: heart disease, diabetes, stroke, even cancer.  There is another issue at play for our dear animals.  What happens to them when they can no longer get around as they need to?  We start to see them as suffering.  What happens then? Often, to keep them comfortable, we let them go.  Could we keep our animals longer if the fed and exercised them better and kept their joints healthier for longer?

One of my favorite parts of being an animal chiropractor is seeing the change in strength, flexibility, and ultimately in the function of these older animals.  Often they regain some of the spunk and energy they had as a younger animal.  They are more playful, more eager for a walk (read: will drag you back out the door too!)  The more weight an animal carries around for longer, the quicker their joints fail, in addition to all of their internal organs. This is why weight and exercise are such an important topic for me with my pet owners.  So, in practice, in younger dogs, I’m seeking to keep their weight healthy.  In older dogs we work on reducing it.  Sometimes that comes easily with just a suggestion and awareness of their animal’s excess weight and other times it involves people working with their vets as well.

I feel certain that it’s easier to have your animal lose weight than yourself.  You can resist their cravings and their sweet faces pleading for a treat easier than you can curb your own cravings.  We don’t have to deal with their emotional eating, like ours.  Start by cutting back their food slowly – remember it doesn’t have to and shouldn’t happen overnight.  In looking at the food bag, make sure you aren’t feeding them enough to push them up into the higher weight category.  And remember that all animals, just like humans, digest and metabolize food differently.  Consider using carrots or other veggies as treats for dogs.  Or smaller cat treats for dogs.  What about giving our animals just treats only once in awhile?  In our house, Jasper’s reward is attention and love and a pat on the head, not always a treat. In our case, Jasper WAS pudgy for awhile.  I was still feeding him like he was growing, and as his growth slowed, his girth sure increased!  Thanks to some help from vets and veterinary colleagues in my course, he is back on track. We all need to be vigilant on this one!

And if only exercise was that easy!  Why is it so difficult to convince people to take time and energy out of their day for themselves and their animals?  What isn’t pleasant about a walk?  Or play time with a pet?  It is good for everyone involved.  Just 30minutes of exercise for us makes a monumental difference in our health!  Find some fun active play with your animal to get them moving in any way that is fun for both of you! Please consider exercise an essential nutrient, and more valuable than TV time, getting dishes done, or having a spotless house! Body, mind, and spirit of you and your animal will thank you!!!

Take a look at the attached chart. You may already have seen it in my new year’s resolution blog, in which case I hope you took some action.  If not, take a peek and see if you gain insight into your pet’s health! animal weight chart for new year's resolution blog

Animal Hair – Who Are You Wearing?

Recently a patient came into my human office and apologized for the cat hair all over her pants.  This happens often with cat, dog, or horse hair throughout my day as a chiropractor.  And I do have to say, it’s funny the places that your little roller just won’t find – I see lots of hair across the back of patient’s pants or shirts!  In this case, for this patient,  I asked her to please not apologize, I consider it a badge of honour!

Yes, I know, an over-abundance of hair on your clothes (such as I have after adjusting animals for a few hours) is no fashion statement, but a few scattered hairs means so much!  To me, it means that you are loved beyond measure!

Consider the wedding rings we proudly wear.  To me, it always means that someone loves you.  To someone you mean the world.  And we wear it proudly.  What about all of the logos and name brands that mean so much in our consumer society?  So, why not wear our animal’s hair with pride and a smile?  It might not have bling, but it means that to someone you ARE their world!  I think it’s a priviledge to have someone who won’t let you get out the door in your black pants without one last rub.  Who doesn’t care that you have just perfected your look for an evening out, one last snuggle means more!  Once again, our animals are reminding us of what is most important in this world… one last scratch behind the ear on the way out the door.  Our last little love pat.  Maybe we can rethink our idea of having a few hairs here and there?

When the glamorous stars walk down the red carpet at this time of year, everyone asks, “who are you wearing?”  My answer would proudly be: “Golden Retriever!”  So, I ask you, “Who are you proudly wearing throughout your day?”

_C7E0365This picture is from our wedding day and our Golden Retriever, Jasper, was part of the wedding party.   Our friends and family must know us, since not a soul used these lint (aka hair) removal brushes!

 

 

 

 

Including your Animal in New Year’s Resolutions

Do you have some healthy new year’s resolutions? Do any of them include your pet?  Some common resolutions that I hear from my patients are: losing weight, eating better, getting more exercise, spending more time with family.  These are super things to work on with your animals too!  The following are some tips to making your new year’s resolutions pet friendly.

Losing Weight and Eating Better

MOST of our animals also need to knock off a few pounds!  Just like humans, we want to see a waist on our animals.  Ideally we should also be able to feel their ribs.  Any animal professional can give you an idea if your pet needs to shed weight, or take a look at the chart at the end of this blog to gauge where your animal is.  Most of the animals I see fall in the Overweight or Obese categories!  My veterinarian colleague will agree.  This leaves your animal more prone to injuries as well as disease and shortened life-span.  On a human note, many of the criteria for our animals will also give us a gauge of ourselves. Make sure that if you or your animal embarks on a weight loss program that you make it a LIFESTYLE: something you will be able to maintain.  And consider not just focusing on weight, but rather on getting more great stuff into your body and your dog’s body too! A few tips:

1.       Focus on portion size and if reducing, DO SO SLOWLY.

2.       Use fruits (of course not grapes or raisins for dogs) and vegetables as snacks or treats. Try healthy snacks made with healthy real food from places like the Barkery in Stratford.

3.       Limit snacks or table scraps.

4.       Your animal does not need to know what ice cream or other human indulgences tastes like!

5.       Make exercise an essential part of your and your pet’s weight loss plan!

Increasing Exercise

Exercise is essential to health!  Research says that we need not run a marathon to get in shape.  Simply exercising 30 minutes daily is sufficient for increased health in humans. (Check out the video 23 ½ hours on YouTube!) Bear in mind that depending on your pet, more or less might be ideal.  And remember that often our animals are inside all day long or cooped up in their stalls the whole day.  They aren’t moving a lot unless with us, so they really need the exercise to stimulate their mind, body, AND spirit.  And what a great way to bond with your animal; perhaps it’s them that will be getting you out of the house in the first place!

A few tips:

1.       Increase activity SLOWLY, generally an increase of about 10-15% per week is a healthy pace for both humans and animals.  Causing an injury by overdoing it can stop exercise entirely.

2.       Make it enjoyable! This will make you both excited to get off the couch and make it easier for you to make the time in your day.

3.       For dogs, try something like Fido’s Playground daycare for those days when you can’t make it for a walk or already have your workout planned elsewhere. They will be run off their paws!

4.       Make sure that your animal is physically able to do the exercise. As a runner I always watch the form of the runners I see out and about. Sadly many of the dogs accompanying them, although keeping up to them, do have some movement problems that will lead to daily problems eventually.  It’s like running with a pebble in your shoe, its worse over increased distance. Consider having your animal adjusted to keep them in tip top shape and treat them like the athletes they are!

5.       If your animal is older and slowing down, shorter and slower bouts of exercise will help.  I have seen great changes in exactly these animals with chiropractic, so much so that they are once again dragging YOU out the door!

 Spending more time with your family

Our animals ARE our family!  They get so much joy out of time with us as we do with them.  I know that my heart rate decreases, stress level goes down, and my smile increased as soon as I get home and get a greeting and snuggle with Jasper!  Jason and I both laugh more when playing with our dog and truly enjoy the bonding time.  Maybe its throwing a ball, maybe training for sports, maybe it’s a trail ride, or maybe it’s an interactive toy for you and your cat… whatever it is, don’t we have these amazing animals in our life to enjoy them?  It’s GREAT for your stress level to embrace the animal in your life and will being peace, joy, and simplicity back into your life.  Enjoy your family time with your animal!IMG_8137 imiller

animal weight chart

Ageing Gracefully – Rudy’s Story

In much of both my human and animal practice I talk about living to be 100 years old (or our animal’s equivalent of that).  I often ask “what do you need to do now to make sure that you have an optimal quality of life throughout your lifetime?”  I regularly see young animals and work on either overcoming a history of injury or other stress, or for pure wellness, ensuring a healthy long life for our beloved furry family.  Today, I’m thankful to also be able to help at the other end of the spectrum.

Rudy is a 12 year old German Sheppard.  He is still overall a very happy guy and just loves attention.  He has had a history of hip problems and starting last summer, his owner Maureen started to doubt his ability to carry on.  How do we know when to let our dogs go and when to help keep them going?  We discovered that chiropractic adjustments every two weeks help to keep his mobility at its best, and I’m thrilled to play a part in keeping him healthy and strong.  But that’s not all Maureen has done!

Rudy has a little bit of incontinence, or dribbles, through his day.  A story I hear all too often about older dogs.  So he has a little diaper (dubbed the “Man Band”) that wraps around his belly and catches the dribbles through the day, ensuring that there is no mess to clean up and he is free to lay and wander wherever he pleases in the house.  And for the very reason that he might want to wander, she has great grippers that go on his feet to help give him some traction. With poor hip strength and mobility he was struggling on hard wood floors!  Now he can trot up to the door to greet a visitor with his tail wagging and a big smile on his face, and not worry about slipping at all!  And what a greeting for any visitor – a happy dog wagging his tail to see them!  In this state, you would never know he was a dog in anything less than his prime!  His little getup might give you a smile as well!

The bottom line though is this:  Rudy is still as capable of giving and receiving oodles of love. And isn’t that the whole reason we have our animals?  Both humans and dogs need special care at different stages of our lives.  For non-animal owners, it’s a tough one to understand, but for those of use lucky enough to have that bond, what WOULDN’T we do to see them happy and feel their love for as long as possible?  It’s an incredible source of pleasure for us, to care of the animals who have given us so much unconditional love!  Still giving love… now that’s ageing gracefully!

Here is what Maureen had to say: I just love him to bits, right now he’s happily snoring away on the floor at the end of my bed, meaning….he can still make it up and down the stairs.” This just reminds us that it’s the simple things that make life and relationship worth it!  Our animals teach us that at any age.Rudy Dixon.jpg

Animal Mani/Pedi: more important than you think!

Have you heard that click clack sound as your dog walks across the hardwood floor? That needs to be our call to action as responsible pet owners!  Its more important than you would believe (for your pet, not just your floor). In horses depending on the surface, we may hear a difference in sound when hooves need a good trimming, but visual cues are most important in identifying when a horse needs a trim!  For one thing the hooves are not hidden in hair like nails are, and for another, they are quite large and imbalances can be easily seen!  As for cats, well, they are much more evolved on the grooming side and if given a scratch post, they likely take nail care into their own paws!

Any time an animal is walking on long nails or hooves it changes the angle of their lower limbs.  Imagine if you will that you walk around with one inch spikes on the front of your shoes.  Sound comfy?  Your toes are lifted and the structures at the back of your leg are stretched.  You begin to walk entirely differently, which changes your whole body mechanics!  This happens in our animals when claws or the front side of hooves are left too long, leaving them prone to injury just trying to walk, let alone run, trot, canter, or play!  For dogs in particular, if the pads of their paws are lifted due to long claws, they become more unstable on smooth surfaces, leaving them prone to injury, even in younger dogs!  In the care of horses, there are additional ways in which the hooves may become imbalanced.  If they are too long at the back of the hoof, it would be like you walking in heels, once again leading to injury.  If the hoof wears unevenly sometimes due to biomechanical imbalances and sometimes due to imbalanced use of the horse, it would be like us walking on the inside of our feet or the outside.  Moving in any of these positions for a prolonged period of time will cause major problems for the whole body which has to compensate!

What do do? In the case of dogs, trim their nails regularly. A great tip from groomer Janice at Better Dog Training in Stratford is to make small trims regularly to allow the blood vessels to pull back a bit and slowly get the nails to a healthier length. Don’t forget to maintain that length, once you achieve it with continued regular trimming.  If you are afraid of hurting your dog or can’t get them to cooperate, use a professional to help keep their nails healthy.  For horses, work closely with your farrier to keep the hooves at a healthy and balanced length on an ongoing basis.  You animal’s health and performance and your ongoing enjoyment of them requires small regular care like this!

***Since the original blog post, I have fallen in love with this video on you tube and recommend it to many many many patients.  Dr. Woodcock does an amazing job of explaining the importance of nail trimming!***

dog nail trimming image