What is Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy (VSMT)?

VSMT is a safe and effective way to improve health, relieve pain and improve nervous system function. The nervous system controls every other system in the body‐ it is therefore extremely important to make sure it is working optimally! Doctors certified in animal chiropractic or veterinary spinal manipulation therapy look for abnormal or restricted movement of joints of the spine and extremities (these are called subluxations). They focus on restoring normal joint movement and use high velocity low amplitude “thrusts “ at specific joint angles to help restore nerve function. This improves soft tissue function, decreases pain, improves range of motion and increases health.

Subluxations may occur because of injury, illness or wear and tear. Over and above all of the regular stressors our pets encounter on a daily basis, we often also ask our pets to do jobs that they wouldn’t normally do such as jump obstacles, stay in a frame while we ride them or even chase a ball over different terrain! Combined with regular veterinary care VSMT can significantly improve your pets quality of life.

*I am interested in pursuing veterinary spinal manipulation therapy for my pet, how do I find someone reliable? What Is the difference between someone certified as an Animal Chiropractor vs. someone certified in Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy?*

When searching for an animal chiropractor or a veterinary spinal manipulation therapist for your pet you should look for someone that is certified. Doctors that are certified are licensed doctors of chiropractic or veterinary medicine who have received specialized training from an accredited approved animal chiropractic program (for example: The Veterinary Chiropractic Learning Center). Graduates have completed over 220 hours of classroom learning, many readings , case presentations and they have had lots of supervised hands on training in both companion animal and equine. They may also have additional certification through the College of Animal Chiropractors (CoAC) or the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AAVC). To clarify, veterinarians that have completed a course such as the one mentioned above are certified in veterinary spinal manipulation therapy. Human chiropractors that complete the same course are certified as animal chiropractors. Both are qualified to help your pets.


Dr. Danielle Sample received her certification in VSMT from The Veterinary Chiropractic Learning Center and has additional certification through the College of Animal Chiropractors. She particularly enjoys helping senior pets with mobility issues, and helping canine and equine athletes gain a competitive edge by keeping them performing at the best of their abilities.

How do I know if my pet needs Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy?

VSMT can benefit performance animals or companion/pleasure animals. Not only can it aid to optimize performance in our working animals but it can also benefit animals recovering from injury, seniors and healthy animals too! It can be incorporated into regular maintenance care. It will help increase range of motion and flexibility. It may promote agility, endurance and may increase performance. VSMT can also help keep muscles and joints working optimally- preventing issues from occurring. Older arthritic patients are also great candidates for VSMT, sometimes regular treatments can even help decrease the amount of medications needed to keep your senior pet comfortable. Almost every pet can benefit from VSMT. VSMT can also be useful for a variety of other conditions such as skin conditions, anal gland impactions, urinary incontinence, as well as head shaking in horses!

Here are some signs that your pet might benefit from VSMT:



– Back soreness when touched, groomed or under saddle
– Horses that are “girthy”
– Unwilling to maintain canter
– Changing leads or refusing leads
– Rushing fences, refusing fences
– Problems lifting legs
– Change in performance or decreased speed
– Fighting the bit
– Muscle wasting or asymmetry
– Bucking
– Stiffness, arthritis, injuries
– Lack of drive from behind
– Unwilling to bend



– Animals displaying signs of pain
– Low neck carriage
– Trouble chewing
– Muscle tension or weakness
– Abnormal posture
– Abnormal gait
– Limping
– Decreased performance
– Doesn’t want to climb stairs or jump on furniture
– Weakness
– Abnormal tail carriage
– Suddenly always sitting with legs to one side
– Dogs or cats with known arthritis

Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy plays an important role in optimizing performance, but it is also beneficial to prevent disease and improve quality of life.