ARNOLD, Mo. – There is a joint effort among medical professionals to offer four-legged family members holistic and non-invasive care. In this in-depth report, Fox 2 explores the growing practice of chiropractic care for animals of all sizes.
Blue Belle gets weekly adjustments from Dr. Miri Logan, a certified animal chiropractor. As a puppy, Blue Belle had surgery to fix a fractured elbow.
Even after going through physical therapy, two-year-old Blue Belle was still experiencing stiffness and lameness in her leg.
Logan says she first watches how a patient walks, then she feels their spine for anatomical changes and inflammation. The symptoms can be subtle, and it takes years of training to identify and treat the issues properly.
As required by law, Logan works alongside a licensed veterinarian. After experiencing the benefits of chiropractic care personally, Dr. Tom Shelton was eager to offer the non-invasive treatment option to his patients at Vogel Veterinary Hospital in Arnold.
The outpatient procedure requires no sedation and can be done in minutes.
"Our patients can't necessarily always tell us what's wrong," said Shelton. "Our clients are always looking for other options for treatments whether it be chiropractic care, physical therapy. There's all types of avenues that are available today for pets."
Shelton was so impressed with the treatment, he asked Logan to take a look at his dog, Blue Belle. He said after three weeks of adjustments, he saw improvement in Blue Belle's mobility.
"I feel like with the weekly adjustments, she's definitely showing less lameness on that leg, so I definitely think it is a really good additive treatment," he said.
While human patients can tell their doctor where they hurt, Logan says pet owners need to be in tune with their pet and watch for changes in their pet's behavior.
"Unwillingness to do activities that they had previously wanted to do such as jumping up into your lap," said Logan.
Activities an animal has seemingly done with ease may be putting unnecessary stress on their body. Over time, those actions or movement could be harmful.
Logan says smaller dogs may experience stiffness in their shoulders and low neck from constantly having to look up at humans or from jumping on and off furniture. Chiropractic care may be able to address issues like early arthritis or joint degeneration.
Logan began her career in healthcare as a registered nurse. She became interested in animal chiropractics while competing in a national horse competition.
"We got him out of the stall to work him, and he was limping," she said.
After seeking traditional veterinary care with no improvement, she took her horse to see a certified animal chiropractor.
"One adjustment with him and saw major improvement," Logan said. "Did another adjustment with him, and (the limp) was gone.”
Logan and her horse went on to place in the top 10 during that competition. She credits the animal chiropractor for making it possible.
That experience was the inspiration for her future career. Logan earned her Doctorate of Chiropractic from Logan University where she learned human chiropractics, then completed more than 200 hours of additional training to receive her certification in animal chiropractics.
In addition to working with smaller pets, she also treats competitive show horses at DezRey Arabians in Waterloo. Her patients include five-time national champion Brilliant Lee, known lovingly as "Billy" outside the ring.
The 13-year-old Arabian Stallion has been a show horse for 10 years.
"He really is a high-performance athlete," said Billy's owner, Caitlin Stayduhar. "We expect a lot from him, and he delivers every time.”
Stayduhar says at this point in his life, Billy is very well trained. These days, he goes through short but intense training five days a week, nine months a year.
Everyone who has a hand in Billy's training agrees, he loves attention. They can tell when something is off.
"If I'm showing Billy and he's feeling hesitant, he's feeling a little sluggish, I know that he's not feeling right," said Stayduhar.
She knows that is a sign Billy needs an adjustment.
"Even though they are large animals, the force put into a horse adjustment is actually less than a human adjustment," said Logan.
Billy gets routine maintenance adjustments to keep him feeling and performing like a star.
"There's something to be said for maintenance that prevents problems rather than having to undo the damage that's already been done when a problem has existed for a while," said Stayduhar.