Canine chiropractor helps set dogs straight

Published on Thu, Mar 17, 2011 by By Tara Nelson

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“Violet,” a Welsh Corgi, gets a treatment from new Blaine animal chiropractor Roy Nicholson. Nicholson currently works with Birch Point Dog & Cat Clinic to provide complementary care. Photo by Tara Nelson

When one of Grace Luken’s goats had a crooked neck, she turned to Blaine’s newest medical professional – an animal chiropractor – to set things straight.

Luken, who owns Grace Harbor Farms on Birch Bay-Lynden Road, said she didn’t know how her youngest goat “Abbey” was injured, but her neck was locked in a nearly 45 degree angle.

“She had been running around with a crooked neck,” Luken said. “We didn’t know how it happened but we think she may have gotten pushed by another goat while she had her head stuck in the feeder.”

Soon on the scene was Roy Nicholson, a semi-retired human chiropractor who opened a complementary animal chiropractic business inside of Birch Point Dog and Cat Clinic in the Blaine International Center. After three visits, Abbey’s full range of motion was restored.

Nicholson said animal chiropractic can help relieve pain and improve mobility in the spine and extremities and help pets regain balance, energy and coordination. He said chiropractic treatment should be considered if a pet does not want to be touched or petted, has difficulty jumping up or getting up or is exhibiting sudden behavioral changes.

On a visit to Nicholson’s office last week, he was treating “Violet,” a Welsh Corgi, who suffered from mild obesity. Because of that particular breed’s long back and spine, the weight was particularly hard on her joints, Nicholson said. During the treatment, he placed Violet on an exam table and began massaging the dog’s joints and back. A typical exam and adjustment takes approximately one hour, he said.

As with all chiropractic treatment, practitioners are trained to identify places where the vertebrae have become misaligned. These areas, known as “subluxations,” are treated with a gentle, manual manipulation and soft tissue massage to restore movement.

 Unlike their human counterparts, dogs’ joints do not contain the same amount of synovial fluid, which, when manipulated, creates a popping sound.

“So you won’t hear the cracking sound you typically hear during a human chiropractic adjustment,” Nicholson said. “Instead, the treatment is more of a soft-tissue massage to get the joint moving more freely and fluidly.”

Initial exams are $100 and subsequent exams are $70. Pets also should be under concurrent veterinary care so as to rule out any underlying pathologies that might be present.

“We can’t do an adjustment on a fracture, infection or a tumor,” he said.

Although every case is different, Nicholson said most ailments are usually treated within three visits as animals respond to treatments more quickly than humans.

Other factors include lifestyle, the degree of joint tissue deterioration, and the length of time an animal has suffered with it.
Nicholson said he has lived in the area since 1997, after moving here from Vancouver.

He opened a Blaine office in the Loomis Hall building at 288 Martin Street in 2009 but retired six months later.

A graduate of the University of Alberta, he also attended Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, graduating in 1986. He earned his animal chiropractic certification from Options for Animals College in Wellsville, Kansas.

Birch Point Dog and Cat Clinic is located at 1733 H Street, suite 800 in Blaine. Their phone number is 360/332-2800. Nicholson can be reached by calling 360/778-1815.