What Is Animal Chiropractic?

Animal chiropractic is a drug-free approach to your animal’s health care. It is the Science, Art and Philosophy that utilizes the inborn recuperative powers of all living creatures. It restores the important relationship between the animal’s spine and nervous system. This helps them regain and maintain their health. The goal of the animal chiropractor is to correct subluxations, restoring normal nerve function and improving the animal’s well being.

Dr. Heick is a lifetime professional member of the American Veterinary chiropractic Association (AVCA).  AVCA professional membership is limited to licensed doctors of chiropractic and licensed doctors of veterinary medicine who are certified in animal chiropractic by the Animal Chiropractic Certification Commission (ACCC) of the AVCA, the primary national credential for this profession in North America. These doctors have successfully completed the Animal Chiropractic Certification Commission (ACCC) of the AVCA certification requirements which included successfully passing an AVCA approved postgraduate program (a minimum of 210 hours) in animal chiropractic. Certification is distinct from licensure in that it is voluntary and requires re-certification to maintain the credential. ACCC/AVCA Certified Doctors are required 30 hours of continuing education every three years to keep certification current.

The AVCA was established in 1989. Chiropractic is a drug-free approach to pet health care. It deals with the nervous system housed inside the spinal column. If you are seeking health care treatment for neuromusculoskeletal function or dysfunction in your animal, or would like more information on animal chiropractic, speak with Dr. Heick at 519-746-3838 or visit the AVCA website at www.animalchiropractic.org

What Exactly Is My Animal’s Problem?

Due to a number of factors that are unique to your pet, spinal and joint segments can either get out of alignment or begin to function irregularly. Chiropractors call these subluxations. As a result, symptoms occur due to nerve irritation or pinching, tissue inflammation or muscle spasm. Later, the joints will prematurely degenerate causing even more problems. The nerves are usually the key factor because they can affect so many things. When they are pinched or irritated, they will not only cause specific symptoms, but affect the strength of the area and can even cause dysfunction in a corresponding organ system. Because the nerves are such a vital part of the body’s healing system, subluxations will also slow down the body’s ability to heal or adapt properly. Correcting subluxations not only relieves symptoms, but it turns up the power. This can help make your animal more powerful in many ways.

How Are Subluxations Corrected?

Chiropractors use a technique called an adjustment to correct the subluxations and help the joints function more normally.

How Long Will It Take to Get Better?

A number of factors must be considered:

  • Number of subluxations
  • How long it has been there
  • Severity of the subluxations
  • Age and ability to heal
  • Regular activities or stresses
  • Willingness to co-operate

The rate of recovery is unique and cannot be compared to others.

Treatment Schedules

The following will explain some of the stages of care to expect. Please discuss your individual needs with Dr. Heick. As always, YOU decide what quality of care you want.

Intensive Care

Our first goal is to relieve any immediate symptoms and get your animal feeling better and functioning better quickly. If the subluxations have been there for a while, the animal has learned to adapt, probably in many different ways. In other words, it becomes normal to be out of place and time is usually required to make lasting changes. Visits are usually frequent, each treatment building on the one before. For best results keep your appointments.

Rehabilitative Care

More important than pain relief is correcting all underlying mechanical faults. Your animal should be feeling much better but subluxations are still present and must be corrected. To allow full healing of the soft tissues, we must maintain those corrections. This gives the body a chance to adapt to the new, improved, situation. If treatment ends before the soft tissues and muscles are healed, a relapse is likely. Frequency of treatment is usually decreased considerably at this stage.

Wellness or Maintenance Care

Your animal’s health affects everything they do. Spinal checkups will ensure that your animal’s spine continues to function well and that there is no interference with its nervous system. Fewer problems, minimal degeneration and better overall health result.

Performance Enhancement

The canine athlete will need near-perfect spinal and joint mechanics to give optimum performance. The more efficient your animal functions, the better the performance. To ensure optimum function, some owners choose to have them adjusted a day or two before the event. A few even have their animals adjusted just before every run. While for most this might be overdoing it, it has proven to be most beneficial in some cases. It’s certainly not a problem to adjust and animal on the day of an event.


As always, should an injury occur that might be affecting your dog’s spinal or joint structures, see your animal chiropractor. Serious injury must ALWAYS be checked first by a veterinarian.

Animal Athletes

The physical demands of the animal athlete can cause spinal segments to get out of alignment. Peripheral joints (those in the front and hind limbs) can also become fixated. The body is constantly trying to avoid pain and does so by compensating in various ways. Specifically, other spinal segments move more or differently than they’re designed. The animal temporarily becomes pain free but their function becomes altered. From a performance perspective it may not be critical for the family pet, although family pets deserve proper spinal and joints mechanics too, but for the canine athlete, performance becomes noticeably affected. Subluxations will also have an effect on the animal’s nervous system. Nerves can become pinched or irritated, not only causing symptoms, but affecting the strength of the area and even causing dysfunction in a corresponding organ system. Because the nervous system is the main power behind the healing system in the body, subluxations will also slow down the body’s ability to heal or adapt properly. Correcting subluxations will not only relieve symptoms but will have a positive affect on their energy. This usually results in an increase in the performance level of the animal.

Animal Chiropractic Fees & Forms

Small Animal Initial Visit* – $110
Small Animal Chiropractic Visit – $44
* if chiropractic care is not indicated for your pet, the initial examination without treatment is $66

Animal chiropractic initial visit form

Group Talks

Dr. Heick would be happy to talk to your group, club, school, etc., on matters concerning health, chiropractic or animal chiropractic.

Emergency Appointments

While we are required to set aside specific hours for animals, emergency appointments can often be arranged. Please call our office and we will try to accommodate your animal.

Animal Chiropractic & Veterinary Care

Dr. Heick is a Doctor of Chiropractic, licensed in Ontario, to diagnose and treat neuro-musculoskeletal disorders in humans with a specialty training in Animal Chiropractic. She is NOT a Veterinarian and will not take responsibility for the primary health care of your animal. Chiropractic care is NOT intended to replace traditional veterinary care. It is considered a specialized complementary therapy for animals and should always be used in conjunction with Veterinary care.