Animal Chiropractor Career Profile

These Professionals Work With Veterinarians to Treat Animals' Pain

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An animal chiropractor manipulates specific areas of an animal's body to alleviate pain and improve range of motion. Like their counterparts who treat humans, animal chiropractors perform adjustments to an animal’s joints and vertebrae to reduce pain and improve performance. 

How Animal Chiropractors Treat Patients

They begin their patient assessment by consulting with the owner to learn the detailed medical history of the animal. They also review any X-rays or prior written records provided by the animal’s regular veterinarian

Once the case history has been established, the practitioner observes the animal both at rest and in motion to determine what adjustments may be necessary. They also palpate the spine and other areas that seem to be a source of pain or discomfort. 

After performing the adjustments, the chiropractor can advise the owner on therapeutic exercises that can help keep their animal healthy. Routine follow-up visits may be necessary as a part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Animal chiropractors must be extremely detail oriented, keeping accurate records of the work performed on their patients as well as the results of their treatment. 

Career Options

Animal chiropractors can operate out of a veterinary facility or offer a mobile clinic to visit clients in their own homes. It is possible to specialize in a number of areas such as working exclusively with horses, dogs, or other species of particular interest.

Education and Training

The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) is the most prominent certification group for animal chiropractors in North America. Candidates for certification must hold a Doctor of Chiropractic or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, pass a comprehensive written exam, and complete an intensive practical skills exam. 

Once achieved, the AVCA certification status is valid for a period of three years. To maintain their certification status, the practitioner must complete at least 30 hours of approved continuing education credit hours during a three-year period.

Very strong knowledge of animal anatomy and physiology is necessary to be successful in this career path. Candidates should also have a high degree of manual dexterity, a solid knowledge of animal behavior, and familiarity with the safe handling techniques for all of the species that they plan to work with. There are several recommended post-graduate animal chiropractic programs listed on the AVCA website.

Salary

The specific level of earnings can depend on the number of clients a practitioner is able to attract, the hourly rate they can command, their years of experience in the field, and the geographic area in which they operate. Most animal chiropractors charge a “per session” fee.

Veterinarians and human chiropractors may use their animal chiropractic work as a supplementary source of income, adding to the fairly substantial salaries already associated with those professions.

Career Outlook

Animal chiropractic has been popular for quite some time in the equine industry, particularly with show and performance horses. According to a report by the AVCA, there have been more than 1,100 professionals certified in this field since the certification program was officially established in 1989.

Those with significant experience, certification, and education will continue to enjoy the best job prospects in this field.