By Dr. Josée Gerard, BA, DC, CVSMT
Certified Animal Chiropractor
Anxiety can be a very common symptom in dogs. It can range from occasional anxiety due to thunder storms, to a full-time disorder where your dog always seems to be on edge, or in “fight or flight mode.”
There are many reasons for anxiety, and therefore, many solutions based on the cause of the problem. Some dog guardians swear by “thunder shirts” when it comes to helping their dog settle down during a storm. While others will use medications or homeopathic supplements to help their dog calm down during travel, or for those that suffer from separation anxiety. In some instances, your veterinarian may choose to run tests to determine whether it’s a condition that should be treated medically.
So how does chiropractic care fit into the picture? First, let’s review that the intent of chiropractic is two-fold: 1) to restore the body’s anatomical structures and joints to their proper position, thereby improving their physiological range of motion, and 2) by relieving pressure from the spinal cord and spinal nerves, thereby restoring normal and appropriate nerve function.
Structural misalignments putting pressure on spinal nerves located in the thoracic and lumbar regions (upper, mid and lower back), can sometimes cause overstimulation of the Sympathtic nervous system, otherwise known as “fight or flight” mode. In this state, your dog may seem to be overly anxious, on edge or ready to pounce or flee. Simply said, they just won’t settle down.
Barring any medical reasons, one of the solutions can be to stimulate the Parasympathetic nervous system, which is our “rest and digest” mode. This can be done by adjusting segments in the cervical and sacral regions of the spine (neck and hips/sacrum/pelvis/tail regions).
When this is in fact the problem, most guardians will report that their dog shows improvement within the first or second adjustment, stating benefits such as: less anxious behaviour, less barking, sounder sleeping, and a generally more relaxed demeanour.
It’s important to note that chiropractic care does not replace traditional veterinary medicine, and that every condition should be checked by your veterinarian first, in order to rule out more serious issues.