Furry friends may not be able to say they’re sore, but two Badger Veterinary Hospital veterinarians can see the signs and try to help.
Margo Nolte, DC, and Toria Waldron, DVM, offer chiropractic care for animals. From horses to cats and dogs, they’ve seen all sorts of cases.
Nolte, a retired chiropractor for humans, works out of the Janesville office once a week. Waldron travels around the Stateline Area for equine services.
“The animals communicate (that they are hurting or injured), but in a different way,” Nolte said. “We use our skills to guide the treatment process.”
Animal chiropractic care isn’t new, Nolte and Waldron said, but they often hear people say that they’ve never heard about animals being treated by chiropractors.
“Even though I’m retired from working with humans I still work with animals because I find it very rewarding,” Nolte said. “I give up my day off to do it.”
The process of helping to ease an animal’s pain or stiffness through chiropractic care follows a process similar to that of humans. The trouble area is determined, and then Nolte and Waldron use precise movements to loosen up the joints and remove pressure on nerves. Animals often leave their appointments with a bit more pep in their step, they said.
“We keep patient records just like we would for a person,” Nolte added. “The process is a little bit different because of the body structure, but the problems are the same.”
Herniated disks, swelling and age-related conditions like arthritis, or even nasty sprains that just won’t heal, are all reasons for an animal to start seeing a chiropractor.
Of course there are some differences in caring for animals versus humans. Dogs can wiggle around quite a bit during appointments, and cats aren’t always fans, Nolte said.
“We just start slowly if an animal is very nervous,” Nolte said. “The treatment involves very gentle movement of the joints in their bodies.”
In Waldron’s case, patients are very large. She stands on special foam blocks to get above the horse and find the angles for adjustments.
“Each horse certainly has their own personality,” Waldron said. “To be able to work with them I have to understand horse behavior and stay safe.”
Animals start seeing chiropractors for many different reasons and each case is unique. Small animals like Nolte sees may be experiencing pain.
Othertimes a dog or cat may be a surgical candidate due to conditions that affect their quality of life, but chiropractic care can be another option.
There are also very serious cases where maybe surgery isn’t an option or it didn’t work. Chiropractic can be the last option before euthanasia.
“Sometimes the cases I work with can really be a life or death situation,” Nolte said. “The change that you see in the animals can be really astounding.”
Waldron said that pain or troubled areas can readily be seen in the way horses move. Her appointments involve going out to the stable where the horse is located. She then examines the horse’s spine, neck and legs. Sometimes it takes multiple visits to address an area of concern, but even one adjustment can alleviate inflammation and help the horse feel a bit better.
“Chiropractic is common to treat musculoskeletal concerns or poor performance,” Waldron said. “Adjustments help promote normal movement.”
Janesville resident Phil Trumpy made the decision to start taking his dogs for chiropractic adjustments out of necessity.
A few years back his dachshund, Louie, was slowing down and limping. One day, Trumpy found Louie was completely paralyzed.
Trumpy wrapped the little dog up in a blanket and took him to the vet. Surgery was an option, but there were no promises it would work. Chiropractic was another possible direction.
“I’ve always gone to the chiropractor for myself, so I thought ‘why not try it,’ and see if it would help him,” Trumpy said.
Although Trumpy wasn’t sure the treatments would help Louie, he gave it a try. With time and patience it ended up working.
“It helped Louie and now we bring in his brother Petey for maintenance,” Trumpy said. “When they leave they wrestle like puppies.”
Not all cases end up like Louie’s, but Nolte always holds onto hope that her patients can go home to spend more time with their families.
“It’s so rewarding to save a dog from something like being paralyzed and see them live out the rest of their years comfortably,” she said.
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