What Can Chiropractic Do For Your Pet?

What Can Chiropractic Do For Your Pet?People are often curious how a chiropractic adjustment is performed on a dog or cat, as well as what conditions can be treated using chiropractic techniques?

Chiropractic literally means “hands” and “practice”.  To perform an adjustment, no tools are needed but my hands!  A small thrust or push is delivered quickly in a specific direction and at a specific location to push the joint in question through its normal range of motion and just slightly beyond.  This sends signals to the nervous system to decrease pain and frees up adhesions that may be keeping that joint from moving to its full potential.  Dogs and cats respond well to these adjustments.  For the most part they often enjoy them just as much as being petted.  Occasionally, if there is a sore area, an adjustment can be sensitive, but by the next day, we often see great results and improved comfort.

So now let’s cover which animals can benefit from Chiropractic.   The short answer is ALL OF THEM!  My most common patients are those with conditions found in the following list:


Urinary incontinence

Recurrent Anal gland impaction

Luxating patella (floating knee caps)

Post-surgical rehabilitation

Musculoskeletal injury

Back Pain/Disc disease

Although I am commonly trying to treat a condition or clinical sign, Animal Chiropractic is very useful for prevention of problems.   Starting adjustments at a young age when signs of slowing down are either very subtle or not yet present at all can keep your companion more mobile and help prevent injuries as they age.  Service dogs and our canine athletes can benefit from improved performance with Chiropractic.  The frequency of the visits are dependent on the injury, condition or lifestyle and playing habits of the individual pets.  For some of our house pets, a few adjustments a year are all it takes to maintain optimal spinal health.

Please contact me if you have questions regarding how chiropractic may be of benefit to your pet.  If you would like to watch an adjustment for yourself, follow this link for a video on my lovely dog Mackenzie having an adjustment!  Thanks to Chiropractic, Mackenzie can now jump up on the bed again, is OFF all of the meds she was taking for urinary incontinence, and is stretching and running around in ways I hadn’t seen for about 3 or 4 years.

Helping Our Senior Pets!

It’s difficult watching your companion age, especially when mobility problems start.
Helping Our Senior Pets! Mobility problems in older pets is probably one of the most common reasons for owners coming in to have quality of life talks here at the Guelph Animal Hospital.   There are many things, from medications to alternative therapies that we can offer to our senior pets – please contact us for more details! Here is a list of things that you can do at home to help keep your friend moving comfortably.


  1.  Traction: Tile, hardwood and laminate floors are slippery and can make it very difficult for an older dog to get good footing to move around.  Runners (that have a sticky underside), bathmats and yoga mats can give a runway for them to take off.  Be sure it doesn’t slide around and that it is easy to clean.
  2. Nails: when dogs and cats stop some of their regular behaviour and exercise, their nails can grow quite long.  This further causes problems, not allowing them to get good footing.  It can also cause the toes to twist which is uncomfortable.  If you are unable to trim the nails at home, be sure to take them to the groomer or in to the clinic more often for their mani/pedi’s.
  3. Grooming: Older dogs and cats often decrease or stop grooming themselves.  They can then get large matts in their coats that can cause irritation, restrict normal range of motion or cause skin infection.
  4. Water/Food Bowls: Make sure the bowls are in a location where they are easily and comfortably reached.  Big dogs may have trouble bending down and will need their bowls raised.  Cats, who have always eaten up high or on a counter may have trouble jumping and need their bowls brought to floor level.
  5. Stairs: When a pet, especially a senior dog, is having trouble walking, stairs can be very dangerous.  If needed, use a baby gate to block off access and assist them when needed to be sure there are no tumbles.
  6. Litter box: older cats sometimes have trouble climbing into the litter box.  You may need to switch out the box for one that is shallower with a smaller lip so it’s not such a struggle climbing in and out.
  7. Changing the frequency and lengths of outs: Older dogs sometimes can’t hold their bladders as long, or get confused about regular habits.  Increasing the frequency of outs but keeping walks shorter still gets pets moving but doesn’t overdo it in one go.
  8. Harnesses/slings: there are many great products on the market now that help you support a bigger dog without hurting your own back.

Write down and make notes about changes in behaviour you notice and be sure to regularly update your veterinary team.  We can all work together to ensure keep your pet’s comfortable and with you for as long as possible.

Raw Food for Pets – the controversy continues

Raw Food for Pets – the controversy continuesThe American Veterinary Association’s recent policy proposal, posted on their website, regarding Raw Food Diets has sparked a flurry of online comments and discussions from consumers and holistic veterinarians with many attacking the association for its stance on this controversial subject.

The AVMA states that there are scientific studies showing that raw and undercooked protein can be a source of infection with Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium, E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes and entertoxigenic  Staphylococus aureus.   “The AVMA discourages the feeding to cats and dogs of any animal-source protein that has not first been subjected to a process to eliminate pathogens because of the risk of illness to cats and dogs as well as humans”.

As an integrative veterinary practitioner who has been an advocate of feeding whole foods to pets for several years, I personally have no objection to the AVMA’s policy proposal.   In fact I applaud their recommendations as follow:

  1. Never feed inadequately treated animal-source protein to cats and dogs
  2. Provide fresh, clean, nutritionally balanced and complete commercially prepared or home-cooked food to cats and dogs, and dispose of uneaten food at least daily
  3. Practice personal hygiene (eg, handwashing) before and after feeding cats and dogs, providing treats, cleaning pet dishes, and disposing of uneaten food

When it comes to recommending the best diets for my veterinary patients there are several factors that I always take into consideration including:  the pet’s individual constitution including age and previous dietary history, current state of health, and any known food sensitivities or allergies.  I have some patients that have thrived on Raw Food Diets while these diets are much less suitable to others especially those with a weakened digestive system (Spleen Qi Deficiency) as well as many elderly or otherwise constitutionally “deficient patients.  The majority of the pets I see in practice have done very well on quality commercial dry pet foods, including my own dog, although I do often recommend some supplementation with fresh vegetables, fruits and meats.  I have both formulated and recommended several well balanced home-made recipes for my patients and for others I have recommended specific commercially available frozen raw or partially cooked whole-food diets.

My personal concerns with “Raw Food” advocates have always been focused on food safety and properly balanced nutrition.  Why should we throw out good common sense and scientific validation just for the strong emotional appeal of feeding our pets a “natural diet” without any consideration for the former?   I have personally analyzed several “published” home-made recipes and raw food diets that have proven to be highly deficient in many key nutrients or have inappropriate Calcium to Phosphorus ratios that over time can cause serious health concerns.  I have also treated some patients with symptoms related to improperly balanced home-made diets and others with gastro-intestinal disease that appeared to be related to specific raw food diets.

This brings me back to the AVMA’s policy proposal in which I am very much in favor.  When recommending a commercially available raw food diet to my patients I recommend one that I know is pathogen free as well as nutritionally balanced according to the American Association of Feed Control (AAFCO) standards.   The new technology of High Pressure Pasteurization has made it possible to provide a pathogen free meat product without the need to cook it and I am aware of at least two manufacturers of commercial raw food diets that are utilizing this technology to guarantee pathogen free products.   There is also a new company in Ontario utilizing a specialized cooking process for their meats, followed by the addition of other non-cooked whole food ingredients, creating a frozen patty that is also certified pathogen free.   For complete balanced home-made recipes I always recommend cooking all poultry, fish and other meat products.

Whether you choose to feed a commercially available or a home-made diet, I strongly recommend you do your research and seek good veterinary advice making sure you are choosing a properly balanced as well as a safe product for your pet.


Rabbit Health

Rabbit Health The life span of a rabbit ranges widely depending on size and breed; but on average we see 5-10+ years.  Although we do not vaccinate rabbits we do recommend annual examinations so we can monitor their overall health: paying particular attention to their weight, oral/dental health, respiratory disease, and to look for signs of arthritis which is very common in domestic rabbits.

Should I neuter/spay my rabbit?

 At Guelph Animal Hospital, one of the more common discussions we have with rabbit owners is about having them spayed or neutered; in rabbits it is often referred to as neutering for both unlike cats and dogs.  Here is some information on why we recommend these procedures:

  • Prevention of Pregnancy – This is especially important if there are both male and female rabbits living together in a household. One should not consider breeding these pets just for fun – rabbits mate frequently and have many kits per litter so it can quickly get out of hand!
  • Prevention of Uterine CancerThis is the most compelling medical reason to neuter female rabbits. In some rabbit populations the rate of uterine adenocarcinoma (a malignant uterine cancer) can approach 80% of the females. It is believed that the incidence may be related to the rabbit’s genetic makeup.   Uterine adenocarcinoma can spread rapidly to other organs of the body such as the liver, lungs and even the skin and it is not treatable once it spreads outside of the uterus.
  • Prevention of other Uterine Disease – Although cancer is the most common disease of the rabbit uterus, we also see other uterine diseases, such as pyometra (infected uterus), uterine aneurism (uterus full of blood) and endometritis (inflamed uterine lining). Like uterine cancer, these conditions are all more common in female rabbits over two years of age.
  • Prevention of False Pregnancies – Female rabbits can go into a hormonal state triggered by their ovaries where the body acts as if it is pregnant but there is in fact no pregnancy. Although this is not medically harmful, it can be stressful for the rabbit that goes through all the activities of being pregnant including nest building, milk production and aggressive protection of her territory.
  • Prevention of Mammary Gland (Breast) Disease – Mammary gland cancer is not common in female rabbits, but when it occurs it can spread rapidly and be difficult to treat. It is preventable if the pet is neutered before two years of age.  The most common type of mammary cancer is a malignant form called mammary carcinoma and it is almost always associated with uterine.
  • Prevention of Aggressive Behavior – Both male and female rabbits can display aggressive behavior when they are sexually mature. Many rabbits are sweet and easy to handle as little babies, but they can start to act up as they mature and they can often take out their aggression on you or their cage mates. There may be more biting, striking, lunging and chasing.  It is best to neuter just before or shortly after sexual maturity to keep this behavior to a minimum.
  • Prevention of Urine Spraying - Both male and female rabbits can spray urine on vertical surfaces to mark their territory. Intact mature males do this much more frequently than females.  Rabbit urine can smell very strong once they hit maturity.   If this behavior is allowed to continue for a long time, it becomes much harder to train them out of it.
  • Prevention of Testicular Disease – Disease of the testicle is uncommon in the male rabbit, but it can occur.

What is the best age to neuter/spay?

It is best to do prior to reaching sexual maturity. Depending on the breed, this time could range from four to six months in the small to medium sized breeds and up to nine months in the giant breeds.

Your rabbit should be examined by a veterinarian prior to surgery to make sure (s)he is in good condition, and to answer any additional questions you may have.

What Happens at Neutering

Neuter – When a male rabbit is fixed, the testicles are completely removed. There are usually two incisions – one over each. The incisions may be left open which is acceptable if scrotal incisions were made, or closed with suture or surgical glue.  This area can swell within 24 to 48 hours after surgery but in another seven to ten days the swelling should be gone.   It is important to note that neutered males should not be put in contact with intact females for at least 3 weeks after neutering.  Male rabbits can still have living sperm in ducts within the spermatic cord. The sperm in these ducts can live for two weeks. Testosterone blood levels drop slowly after neutering and male rabbits will still try to mate with female rabbits for several weeks after the testicles are removed.  Since the testicles are gone, no new sperm are being produced so it is safe to put a male and female rabbit back together again.   We recommend introducing cage mates very slowly as some rabbits can react very aggressively and can seriously harm the other rabbit.

When a female rabbit is neutered, the ovaries and uterus are removed.  Rabbits have a uterus that is made up of two long tubes with an ovary at one end and a cervix at the other. They have two cervices unlike cats, dogs, humans and many other species which only have one.   An incision is made just below the umbilicus (belly button) and the uterus and associated structures are gently removed from the abdomen through this incision. The blood vessels supplying the uterus and ovaries are tied off with suture material and are removed. The incision is sutured with two to three layers of suture material. Since rabbits have incisors that are excellent at cutting through many materials, we find it beneficial to bury the final row of sutures under the skin so they are not accessible. In this way the rabbit has nothing to chew on or pull out. These sutures dissolve eventually over several weeks and there are no external sutures to remove.

Postsurgical Care

It is important after any surgery to check the surgical site at least twice a day for any signs of bleeding, unusual swelling, discharges or opening of the wound.   Other signs of concern are decreased stool production, reduced activity, and reduced urine output.  It is very important for you to monitor how much they are eating – it is dangerous for a rabbit to be off food.   If your rabbit is not eating well after surgery, call your veterinarian right away!  Sometimes your pet will be prescribed a special nutritional supplement to help support them after surgery.

Pain control is your veterinarian should prescribe a post-surgical pain medication for one or more days for your pet, which will help ease discomfort and shorten the recovery time.  Most rabbits recovery very quickly from surgery and are back to their old antics within a few days!!

If you are interested in discussing this procedure please give us a call and we’d be happy to have a veterinarian speak to you about your pets’ surgery.