The Bone Crusher Oh My Aching Back

Performance events, especially agility, are athletic activities for a dog. So are you really surprised that various parts of performing dogs' bodies might go out of whack? Because the dogs' performances are affected, many competitors routinely take their dogs in for chiropractic adjustments.

To keep your dog in tiptop shape, have a chiropractor examine him. Buddy may need an alignment. To find an animal chiropractor in your area, go to the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association's Web site at www.animal chiropractic.org. Dog chiropractors cost typically the same as a human chiropractor — about $45 a crack (no pun intended), depending on your location.

Misalignments of your dog's musculoskeletal system can affect not only his performance, but also his behavior. Our own introduction to a veterinary chiropractor came through our Briard, D.J. While he was growing up, D.J. was quite unpredictable when meeting new people or new dogs. His first reaction was to lunge and bark and show typical signs of aggression. We didn't take it too seriously, attributing it to his lack of maturity. We figured that with training and gaining confidence, he'd grow out of it.

Although the behavior diminished to a certain extent, it didn't disappear. At that point, we decided to have D.J. examined. We learned that one of the vertebrae in his neck was impinging on the optic nerve and that he had never been able to see properly. After he was adjusted, he was a different dog.

After that experience, we had all our dogs examined. These examinations disclosed a number of weaknesses that we had been aware of but didn't know how to address. For example, our Dachshund's jaw was out, which caused him discomfort and affected his behavior and performance. With treatment, he became a much happier dog.

Having a chiropractor look at your puppies to make sure that everything is in order is a good idea. Vigorous play, especially with other dogs, can cause all manner of misalignments, which then may interfere with proper growth.

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