New Research on Paralyzed Dogs

Research News Staff
New Research on Paralyzed Dogs

Chiropractic May Offer Relief to Suffering Canines 

Recent research reported in the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research regarding improvement in a four year old dog suffering from paraplegia and incontinence reveals that chiropractic could play an important role in managing neurological disorders such as this in canines.

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The research discussed a case of a four-year-old bichon frise/shih tzu mix canine with complete paralysis of the back legs and incontinence whose problems improved following chiropractic care. “Research is revealing that there is a relationship between abnormalities in the spine and the nervous system” stated Dr. Matthew McCoy, a chiropractor, public health researcher and editor of the journal that published the study. “Research is also showing that animals other than humans additionally benefit from chiropractic care.” 

Research has shown that normal spinal structural integrity, balance and joint movement, are tied into complex neurochemical communication and pathways. This help animals adapt to their environment because it is tied into spinal biomechanics and the nervous system. 

“It makes perfect sense when you think about it” stated Dr. McCoy. “The brain constantly needs and wants to know where our body is in space and what is going on relative to all functions of the body because it wants to have a say in whats going on. If there is obstruction to the neurological communication between the spine, the brain and the nerves then all sorts of malfunctions can occur and this can lead to symptoms such as paraplegia, weakness, urinary problems and so forth.” 

Researchers studying the connection between chiropractic, nerve obstruction and neurological disorders believe that these types of functional disorders can be caused by even slight misalignments of the bones in the spine. 

“There are very important functional relationships between the spine, the nerves and the brain that if disturbed can result in a host of problems with how the body functions whether it’s a human or a dog” remarked McCoy. He added “If there is abnormal position or movement of the spinal vertebra this can lead to nerve obstruction. It is this obstruction, called vertebral subluxation, that chiropractors correct.” 

The patient reported on in this study was a four-year-old bichon frise/shih tzu mix canine that presented for care with complete paralysis of the hind limbs. He had multiple previous episodes of moderate paraplegia that had been treated with courses of steroids. On the third occasion of paralysis the steroids did not resolve the issue. Instead, the canine worsened to the point where he was incontinent. He had complete lack of function in both hind limbs, no muscle tone and lack of deep tendon reflexes. 

The dog was examined which revealed structural shifts of the neck, mid and low back and pelvis. Structural shifts in the spine can develop and this can lead to obstruction of the nerves. It is this obstruction, called vertebral subluxations, that chiropractors correct. 

After one month of treatment the dog was able to hold himself up on all four limbs for periods of ten minutes or greater. After four months of treatment the canine was able to walk normally and the incontinence resolved. 

These results suggest a possible link between neurological disorders like paraplegia and spinal subluxations in canines.  Correcting the subluxations through the use of specific chiropractic adjustments appears to have led to resolution of the problem. The authors called for further research in this area.  

Contact Information: 

Matthew McCoy DC, MPH
Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research
McCoy Press