A recently-released American Horse Publications (AHP) survey revealed that chiropractic care is the most-used complementary therapy for horse owners in the U.S.
Of more than 9,000 respondents, 60% used at least one form of complementary therapy for their horses, lead by chiropractic which was used by 42.8% of these horse owners. Next up were massage (32.5%) and acupuncture (17.5%).
The survey revealed that compared to the economic recession of a decade ago, “the equine industry has firmly stabilized.”
Many chiropractors offer animal services, with some specializing.
Maria V. McElwee is a licensed DC in Pennsylvania who spends her days caring for a variety of different animals, providing them chiropractic services via her business, Critter Chiropractic.
“I always had a love and passion for animals and chiropractic,” McElwee tells Chiropractic Economics magazine. “It was my dream to be able to combine both of them into a profession I love.”
McElwee says that working on animals is similar to working on people in that “we don’t focus on the symptoms,” but she does admit that practicing on an animal is a little different than practicing on a human in that animals have a different amount of vertebrae and “the articulation of the joints are also different due to them being quadruped.”
One major issue when working with animal patients, says McElwee, is that “animals are good at masking pain, so when they start to display a problem it is usually something that has been there for a while. I have worked on animals that were completely paralyzed from mid-back down. They would have no current trauma and be fine hours before and all of the sudden lose all control.”
McElwee points to the physical, chemical and emotional stress of everyday living as the culprit oftentimes, indicating that it “would build up until their body could not handle it anymore.”
The American Horse Publications (AHP) conducted an online nationwide survey in 2018 sponsored by Zoetis. The bulk of the respondents (70.5%) were over 45 years of age. Over half of all respondents reported that only one member of the household was involved with horses; a third reported two household members had involvement with horses.