Pet care

Dr Daniel Adler

So You’re Thinking About Getting a Dog

This pandemic has led to a lot of families deciding to welcome a new furry family member into the household. With a lot of time spent in the house and many people working from home, it seems like an ideal time to consider adding a dog into the mix. That’s great that more people want to get a dog, however, it is serious business that requires careful thought prior to making that jump. Here are some things to consider when deciding on getting a dog:

1. Costs

Have you carefully considered the cost of owning a dog? Between the original purchase price, vet bills, training, food, toys, accessories and chiropractic care (of course) the bills add up. Are you prepared to cover the cost of ownership for the entire length of your dog’s life?

2. Breed

While we all may have our preferred breeds, you need to ask yourself if it is the right breed for you and your family’s lifestyle. Just because you find a particular breed the cutest, it may not be the right one for you. I can’t stress this enough: Do Your Research! Certain breeds may be far more susceptible to various health problems and therefore cost you more (see point 1). For example: dachshunds, although quite adorable, are quite susceptible to major back problems that require expensive surgeries (think tens of thousands of dollars). Would you cover the costs if that occurs?

You also need to know breed temperaments and activity levels. If you’re a sedentary person, a German Shorthaired Pointer would not be wise. Do you mind lots of shedding? Do you or anyone in your house have allergies? How trainable is the breed you would like? These are all questions you must have answers to before selecting a dog. I can’t stress this enough so I will say it again: Do Your Research!

3. Permanence

You’re working from home now and have quite a bit of freedom to go for mid-day walks and spend some quality 1-on-woof time but will that always be the case? Think about the future, will the drive to have a dog still be there in 2, 3, 5, 10 years? Dogs are a long-term commitments and the decision to get one shouldn’t be made without considering potential changes in life. Don’t make a spontaneous decision to get a dog.

4. Adopt vs. shop

Going back to the question about breed, is breed all that important to you? Would you like to give a dog in need a good family home? There are numerous rescue agencies out there that would love to find forever homes for dogs in need. There are also quite a number specific to certain breeds so even if you have done your research and chosen a breed, you may be able to find a rescue agency dedicated specifically to that breed. If you do intend on getting a dog from a breeder, research the breeder and make sure to seek out a reputable breeder.

So if you are going to add a dog to your family, please don’t make it a spontaneous decision. It’s a serious commitment that takes serious consideration.

And when you do get your new puppy, consider chiropractic care to help them have a full and active life!

Dr Daniel Adler

Hip Dysplasia and Chiropractic Care

I regularly get asked what chiropractic care can do for a dog with hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a large cause for concern in many pet parents as it can greatly impact the quality of life and quality of movement of their dogs. There are benefits that chiropractic care can provide to help dogs with hip dysplasia.

What is hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is essentially poorly formed hip joints. The hip joint is a ball and socket type joint much like the shoulder. However, unlike the shoulder, the hip joint is a much deeper cup which provides stability to the joint. Often due to genetics, the hip joints do not form properly. This creates abnormal movement in the joint that can lead to early degenerative changes, movement problems and pain.

Symptoms of hip dysplasia can be quite varied but can include:

  • “Bunny hopping”
  • Reluctance to go up stairs
  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Decreased activity/early fatigue

How is it Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of hip dysplasia needs to be made by your veterinarian. There are in-office tests your veterinarian can do that will determine the presence of a problematic joint. These can include manipulating the joint to test laxity issues as well as perform x-rays. There are quite a number of treatment options to consider that your veterinarian should discuss with you. They can include surgery, physical rehab, nutritional supplementation and medications.

Chiropractic Care and Hip Dysplasia

For those that don’t want to pursue the surgical route, chiropractic care can help. While chiropractic care cannot alter the shape of the hips or fix the problem in this case, there are benefits it can offer to help improve your dog’s quality of life.

A major side effect of hip dysplasia that is often not discussed is that your dog will need to compensate elsewhere for the lack of hip mobility. This can lead to problems up the kinetic chain. Targeting and improving the secondary effects is the goal.

Dogs are supposed to be rear-wheel drive animals. When walking and running, they are supposed to push themselves forward with their hind legs and use their front legs to carry most of their weight. When the hips aren’t driving themselves forward like they are supposed to, the front legs take on the burden of pulling. Now the front legs are having to support most of the dog’s weight AND be the driving legs for forward motion. Quite often in a dog with hip dysplasia, you will see low muscle mass around the hips with thick muscles around the front legs. This type of movement puts a lot of stress through the shoulders and neck and can cause neck pain. Chiropractic care can deliver relief to soreness that will develop throughout the neck and shoulder complex.

As well, problems with hip movements often lead to issues in an area called the thoracolumbar junction (T/L junction). In the spine, the low back (lumbar spine) moves differently than the thoracic spine (mid-back). At one point, both those areas meet and subjects that one spot to multiple forces. It is an area that often becomes sore and tight as dogs try to compensate for lack of proper motion through the hips. Chiropractic care reduces tension through this area to help reduce their back pain.

So essentially, while not being a cure for hip dysplasia, chiropractic care is a great addition to help ease the discomfort and wear and tear it causes throughout the body.


Emergency Preparedness for Pets

A tough fact of life is that emergencies happen. When we think about emergency plans, we often think about insurance and that is great. Insurance is important to make sure you and your family are taken care of in desperate situations. Something we don’t often think about is what happens to our pets in different situations. There is more to think about in a practical situation than just monetary coverage. Here is a list of things to consider when thinking about how to deal with certain situations

1. Fire: Does the fire department know what animals are living in the house? Many organizations provide stickers that affix to your front door that notify them of what and how many animals are living in the house. Also to consider is do they know how to find them? This is particularly the case with cats who may have a tendency to favour difficult to find and out of the way spots to sleep in. If your cat or dog has a favourite spot to hang out in, consider writing that on that sticker in the front window.

2. Incidents While on Vacation: You’re on vacation and you have a professional boarder/pet sitter taking care of your pets. Something that they should be informed of is what happens to your pets if something happens to you? You should inform them of who to take your pets to whether that be a friend or a family member. As well, make sure you have that discussion with a friend or family member about taking care of your pet if something happens to you.

3.Flooding: This pertains to any reason that you may have to move out of your house for a period of time. Where are you going to go? You should keep in mind a pet-friendly hotel so if something happens in the middle of the night, you don’t have to sit around researching a hotel that will accommodate your furry family members.

4. Nearest Emergency Clinic: Have you put thought ahead of time about where the nearest emergency veterinary clinic is? When an injury or emergency health concerns happens, the last thing you want to be doing is wasting time and searching online for somewhere to take your pet. Which clinics are also open after hours? This is also something to consider.

These are just a few examples of things that you should consider being prepared for. While insurance is a great way to make sure that these issues don’t put you in a financial burden, you still need to consider the practicality of what to do in an emergency situation.

Dr Daniel Adler

Caring For That Older Dog

It’s tough to see our beloved dogs get up there in age. Aging is something we know will happen to every dog but it’s still hard to watch. There are quite a few changes and challenges in caring for an older dog as compared to a younger puppy or middle aged dog They slow down, stop being interested in the games they used to love to play and seem to be in more and more discomfort. There are things that you can do to increase your dog’s comfort in his/her golden years. Here is a few things that you can do to help make life easier on them and you:

  • Let them lead the walks: Don’t push your older dog too hard. Let them set the pace and the distance of the walk. Don’t walk them to the point that they are in pain by the time you get home.
  • Focus on frequency of walks, not duration: If your dog still enjoys going for walks but seems in pain after, focus on more frequent but shorter walks. Give them plenty of rest between walks. It is better to do 3 10 minute walks than one half hour walk.
  • Speak to your vet about joint support supplements. Anti-inflammatory supplements and joint health supplements can help reduce the discomfort of arthritis so speak to your veterinarian about the ideal type for your dog
  • Check your floors: Modern flooring styles, such as hardwood, vinyl or laminate, can be quite slippery and difficult for older dogs. Try putting carpet runners down to give your dog more traction. Any extra bit of support that gives them more grip on a slippery surface will be highly appreciated by your dog.
  • Get some toe grips: If you don’t have the carpet runners or don’t want to put them down, try toe grips. Socks for their feet with grips on the bottom can be quite helpful for helping them walk on slippery surfaces
  • Don’t force stairs: If your dog is reluctant to go up/down stairs, don’t make them. Stairs are difficult for dogs to begin with so if they are in pain, they will likely be hesitant to tackle them

Last, but absolutely not the least,:

  • Get them adjusted!: A chiropractic adjustment can reduce pain, improve mobility and helps keep them comfortable.

Dog vs. Horses

Dogs and horses can be quite similar in many ways. They’re playful, they’re thoughtful, they make great companions and really become part of the family. There are some interesting ways in which they differ behaviourally though which is why we can’t assume a dog and a horse will demonstrate that they are in pain to you in the same ways.

A short while ago I wrote a blog about subtle ways in which dogs can be showing you that they need to see their certified animal chiropractor. However, dogs can be (and quite often are) very overt when they are in pain. So how do horses differ in signs when they are in pain? To answer that question let’s talk about evolution.

Evolution isn’t necessarily a perfectionist, more of a tinkerer. Each animal is suited to the environment in which they live and the demands placed upon them. Those animals that survive because they are best suited to their environment will pass on their genes to the next generation.

Dogs evolved as pack animals and predators without many other animals higher than them in the food chain. This gave dogs a certain amount of comfort we’ll say. No other animal was going to target the weak or the sick dogs for their next meal. This meant that it was perfectly safe for a dog to show their discomfort. In fact, that could even lead to being supported with food by other dogs looking out for members of their pack. It was in a dog’s interest to let others know when they are hurting and not at their optimal function.

Horses, in contrast, are the opposite. Although big animals, they are lower on the food chain. This meant that they always had to be on high alert for predators. If a horse demonstrated that it was in pain and a pack of hungry dogs saw that, that horse was likely to become dinner. So horses had to evolve to be quite stoic and hide their pain quite well. They are also flight animals which means if they sense a threat, they run or kick and then decide later if it was indeed a threat.

So how do you know if your horse is in pain when they won’t tell you like a dog would? You need to look for subtle signs such as:

  • Decreased performance
  • Behavioural changes such as grumpiness
  • Shying away from the saddle
  • Reluctance to let you pick up their leg
  • Swapping leads
  • Resenting the bit

Some other interesting results of horses’ evolution is their easily frightened nature since a horse that got spooked easily was more likely to survive than one who wasn’t afraid of anything. As well, most breeds of horses have 6 lumbar vertebrae. That doesn’t make them good at quick side to side maneuvers but gives them stability to run forwards quickly. Dogs have 7 which make them more agile for hunting down their prey.

So if your horse is displaying any of these signs, give me a call. I can treat your horse anywhere from the Niagara region, Burlington, Hamilton, Waterloo or beyond.


Based out of Burlington, Ontario and providing at-home service in Burlington, Oakville, Hamilton, Milton, Guelph, Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and everywhere in-between.

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