Today’s modern world shows how much our relationship with animals has changed, says animal chiropractic consultant Dr. Rod Block.
“Back before the mechanical wonders of industrialization, we relied upon animals to carry the brunt of our work; essentially, their purpose was to haul loads, plow fields and chase down prey,” says Block, author of “Like Chiropractic for Elephants,” (www.drrodblock.com) a book in part about his experience treating elephants and other animals for chiropractic problems.
“Today, tractors and other marvels of the post-industrial era have largely replaced the duties of the working animal. In a world where humans distance themselves more and more from one another, these animals have become our companions, family members and closest confidantes.”
More friends and custodians of animals – including dogs, horses and, yes, elephants – realize that they too suffer from spinal irregularities, he says.
“Of course, any living creature with a spine is vulnerable to injury, which can incur years of suffering and even death,” he says.
With that in mind, he offers gift ideas for the furry family member that cannot tell you with language what it needs:
• Dog harnesses: For those who haven’t already noticed, collars and choke chains hurt dogs that have a habit of pulling during walks. Collars centralize stress on their neck. Ideally, you should train your dog to not pull -- there are how-to books and programs that can help. In the meantime, and even after successful training, a dog harness works best on that rare occasion when, for example, a squirrel piques their interest. Harnesses appropriately distribute weight throughout a canine’s torso. They’re also appropriate for cats on leashes.
• Need a chiropractor? … Some animals go many years before their caretakers realize they have a significant mobility problem, or that there is an affordable solution to the problem. Many simply do not consider alternative health measures for their horse, dog or cat; they think their only options are expensive, invasive surgery, or nothing. To spot problems early, always monitor how they walk or run, and how they hold their head. “Pay attention to their movements, and how they respond to touch,” he says.
• Don’t overfeed!: An overfed dog or cat, just like an obese human, experiences damaging health consequences. Excess weight puts stress on the skeleton and joints, and obese cats and dogs can get diabetes. Feed them the appropriate amount of pet food, and do not give them scrap from the dinner table. If your dog has grown accustomed to begging at meal times, put him in another room when you sit down at the table. Our pets do not have the right digestion system for many human foods.
• Dog beds: Know your dog. You wouldn’t give a child’s bed to a large adult; consider what’s appropriate for your dog’s length, weight and sleeping style. This knowledge will help you when confronted with the many styles of beds: bagel, doughnut and bolster beds; cuddler or nest beds; dog couches; round, rectangle or square beds; or elevated beds with frames. Also, consider manufacturer differences. Each may have its own definition of “large dog,” for example.
• Holistic options: As health-care avenues have expanded for humans, so too have they for pets. Often, the answer for human and animal well-being is not an overload of prescription medication. Acupuncture is a valid option with no adverse side affects that has shown positive results, especially for large animals like horses. In general, use common sense; an overstressed environment is not good for any living thing. Consider researching the latest alternative-health options for your animal.
About Dr. Rod Block
Dr. Rod Block (www.drrodblock.com) serves as a chiropractic consultant to numerous veterinary practices in Southern California and is an international lecturer on animal chiropractic. He is board certified in animal chiropractic by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association, is a member of the International Association of Elephant Managers and serves as an equine chiropractic consultant to Cal Poly Pomona. Dr. Block is the equine chiropractor for the Los Angeles Police Department’s Mounted Police Unit, a lecturer at Western State University College of Veterinary Medicine and a lecturer at University of California Irvine (Pre-Veterinary Program). He completed his undergraduate studies at UCLA and later received his Doctorate in Chiropractic.