Treatments offer alternatives to medication and surgery
When Tara Kreutzer let her dog, Dolce, out into her backyard, she was shocked to see her come back dragging her two hind legs. Just one year previous, another one of her three dachshunds had injured itself in a similar way, and the surgery to repair it had cost $8,000.
“It just wasn’t possible for us to spend another $8,000 on a dog to have back surgery,” Kreutzer said. Devastated, they began to mentally prepare themselves to say good-bye to their pet, figuring that the only other option was to put the dog down.
Kreutzer searched for other options to try to help her dog. She ended up going to Dr. Sarah Wuest, a chiropractor who also specializes in animal chiropractic.
Although she told Kreutzer that she couldn’t promise her anything, Wuest agreed to treat the dog. After only six weekly treatments¬ –which each cost $45– Kreutzer said that Dolce was running around with more energy than she ever had before.
“I don’t think that a lot of people would even notice that anything is wrong with her,” Kreutzer said. “She’s just a happier dog now.”
Wuest said that being able to help animals in life threatening situations like Dolce is the most rewarding part of her job.
“Anytime I can save a dog from being put down, and do it in a way that isn’t going to hurt their liver (like drugs can) or put them at risk, how awesome is that?” she said.
Growing up show-jumping horses is what inspired Wuest to get involved in animal chiropractic, as she always wanted to be able to treat both parts of the team –the rider and the horse. After getting her chiropractic degree in Ontario and doing a specialized sports residency, Wuest did a seven week condensed course at Options for Animals that is only offered to chiropractors and veterinarians.
She noted that even as a trained chiropractor, the animal-specific schooling is important to have before treating any animals. Wuest said that treating animals can be challenging, as the dogs can’t physically tell you how they are feeling. The chiropractor has to be able to read reactions and know behaviours to try to figure out what’s wrong.
“A dog doesn’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing,” Wuest said. “So if what you’re doing isn’t making them feel any different, they won’t act any different. So any changes you see in a dog are real. They only know whether or not they feel better.”
During a treatment, Wuest sits on the ground with the animal, and moves the dog from standing to sitting and laying down positions. She then guides her hands over all areas of the dog’s body, doing small adjustments as she goes. Wuest said that the adjustments actually feel good to a dog, which is why they often sit so contently.
Wuest said she classifies her patients into three categories: animals with new injuries, animals with chronic injuries, and – her favourite group– owners bringing in their animals before they have any injuries to treat.
“To me, prevention is the best form of healthcare, whether it’s humans or animals,” Wuest said. “It’s best to prevent a problem before it happens than to treat it after it happens.”
Amir Sharifzadeh’s dog Kovu fits in to the first category. Although Kovu had already been receiving treatments from Wuest, they increased his treatments after he had surgery to repair a torn ligament. Sharifzadeh said he originally sought treatment for his dogs after his fiancé had positive results from seeing a chiropractor for her own back issues.
“Nothing was fixing it, no medication, so she started going to chiropractic sessions herself and just felt a lot better right after. It was something that nothing else could fix so why not do it for our pets.”
Heather Boucher also decided to see treatment for her dog Eddy after he experienced partial paralysis in one of his back legs. Boucher said she saw a significant amount of improvement the very same day that he underwent his first treatment. Now, after only two treatments, Eddy is only walking with a small limp.
With Wuest’s help, dogs like Eddy and Dolce get to continue on as if nothing ever happened.
“She fixed our dog,” Tara Kreutzer said about Dolce, laughing. “We’re really lucky to still have her.
“I wish I would have known (about Wuest) with our first dog, because it was just remarkable what she was able to do for Dolce,” Kreutzer said. “The compassion and tenderness that she takes with the animals, she’s just a really special lady.”