Low Back Pain in Dogs?

Low Back Pain in Dogs?

Determining where the root problem in a dog can be difficult.  They can’t explain to you what they are feeling and they don’t have fingers to point where it specifically hurts.

When I see injured dogs as an animal chiropractor, I am usually presented with a dog that has very common symptoms like limping or change in activity levels, but it usually comes with no diagnosis of what is happening… and I totally get why.

What is the difference between adjusting a dog and a human?

What is the difference between adjusting a dog and a human?

First off the principle of chiropractic care is the same for both.  A human and a dog both have a spine and nervous system. The function of their spine directly affects the function of their nervous system.  The nervous system is in control of muscles, organs and sensory function. In everyday life problems with this can show up in performance, mobility, or daily routine.

Should You Sit On An Exercise Ball?

The trend of swapping your office chair for an exercise ball seems to be fading a bit.  However, many patients still ask me if it is beneficial to sit on an exercise ball rather than a chair.  The exercise ball is an unstable surface that in theory should lead to increased trunk movement which aids in the nutrition of your muscles and vertebral discs and increases the activity of your core musculature.  There are other proposed benefits as well, but let’s find out if they outweigh the negative side effects.

A 2009 study published in the journal Applied Ergonomics, researchers compared an adjustable office chair with armrests to an exercise ball while the participants did a one hour typing task.  The chair and the ball were fit to the subject’s body size so when sitting their knee angle was 90 degrees.  As hypothesized by the authors they found 33% more global trunk motion when sitting on the exercise ball (not found to be significant).  They also found the average rate of change of lumbar EMG and amplitude of lumbar spine muscles to be 66% and 38% higher when on the ball.  Although increased spinal movement and muscle activation are good for spine health, they also increase forces on the spine, which can have detrimental effects on the intervertebral discs.  To test this, the authors looked at the compressive forces on the spine and found that spinal shrinkage was significantly greater when sitting on an exercise ball than the office chair.  Another implication of increased muscle activity is that it can lead to muscle fatigue which can increase your susceptibility of low back injury. 

Another study by McGill published in 2006 in Applied Biomechanics, looked at pressure distribution.  Comparing an exercise ball, an office chair, and a stool they found that the surface contact area was significantly greater with the exercise ball.  The increased contact area actually increases the level of discomfort when sitting on the ball.  This is because the soft tissue is now absorbing the pressure of sitting, when it should be on the boney part of your butt! 

In conclusion, although there seem to be benefits of sitting on an exercise ball, the benefits are outweighed by the significant negative effects to your spine.  For this reason use a traditional office chair at work or utilize an exercise ball for short periods at a time to limit the shrinkage of your spine! 


Stay healthy my friends, 

Dr. Adam 

If Your Dog is Fat, You Are Not Getting Enough Exercise

By this time next year I should be certified in veterinary chiropractic.  It's a year long course for both chiropractors and veterinarians. I'm excited to work with house pets like dogs, but I'm also excited at the opportunity to work with larger farm animals like horses.  

In light of my excitement and my love for animals I thought I would produce this post.  Enjoy!

The health benefits of having a dog are obvious.  Mentally they make you laugh and give you unconditional love when you are only gone for 30 minutes, they make it seem like you have been gone for 30 days.  But first I’m going to touch on the physical health benefits. Whether it is play, walking or jogging, you are forced to get off the couch and move.   Many studies have shown that owning a dog can help to avoid a sedentary lifestyle.  Increasing regular exercise, such as leisure walking can help to decrease the risk of certain cardiovascular conditions.  One study showed that pet owners have lower systolic blood pressure which is the driving force of the contracting heart, than non-pet owners.  Another study showed lower plasma cholesterol levels, as well as triglyceride levels in pet owners.   It is even reported that dogs may show adverse behaviour if their Type 1 diabetic owners are having hypoglycemic episodes which could help their owner avoid an adverse health event.   Finally, pet owners who suffered a heart attack had higher 1 year survival rates than their non-pet owning counterparts.   

More intriguing perhaps than the cardiovascular benefits are the psychological benefits of owning a pet.  Most pet owners do not get a pet to reduce sedentary behaviours but rather to have companionship and an improved quality of life.  In a study that followed just under 1000 participant for one year, it was found that pet owners had fewer doctor contacts than their counterparts without pets.  It has also been reported that certain populations of people that own pets suffer less from depression.  

The authors of one article proposed a theory of how pet companionship can improve cardiovascular health, by reducing emotional stress.  Increased emotional stress leads to a barrage of negative effects on the body.  This is caused by increased sympathetic nervous system function.  We developed this over thousands of years when we had to worry about Saber Tooth Tigers.  If you turned a corner and met up with a tiger you would instinctually fight back or run away (fight or flight).  Nowadays the Saber Tooth Tiger comes in the form of commuting, work deadlines, family stressors etc.  Short durations of this type of emotional stress is good because it can help us get away from the Tiger.  However, when long lasting, this type of stress can lead to chronic disease.  Among other things like exercise, owning a pet can psychologically decrease or limit stressful sympathetic activity.  This decreases potential endothelial dysfunction, chance of cardiac arrhythmias and sudden death, as well as high blood pressure through decreased kidney activity. 

If you train with your pet make sure that they are getting adequate rest and recovery. And for the same reasons that you should be taking care of your health by visiting a chiropractor, you should also be taking your dog to an animal chiropractor. 

If you would like a great recommendation for an animal chiropractor check out my friend’s page here. 

Until next time, stay healthy my friends!

Setting Up a Work Station

Many people suffer from the constant strain of poor posture.  This article will give you the optimal set up at your work station.  However, it is important to understand that any posture will at one point lead to fatigue.  Therefore small changes in posture and micro-breaks throughout your workday will give you most relief. The following information is from the Ontario Ministry of Labour website.

Computer monitor should he at a height to allow your neck to be straight (top of screen at eye level).  If you wear bifocals the screen should be slightly lower so head is neutral when reading the top line on the screen

There should be a 90 degree bend at your elbows, with your arms hanging naturally at your sides

Your hands should be in line with your forearms, so there is no bending of your wrists

Your thighs should be parallel to the floor, allowing your feet to rest flat on either the floor or a footrest

Your chair should have a lumbar (low-back) support to help maintain your natural lumbar curve in the seated position

Your mouse hand should be supported so there is no bend in the wrist

Use a document holder that is adjustable, to the same height as your monitor


Although the above is helpful, less people are using desktop computers as the popularity of laptops increase.  With the screen and keyboard connected, the screen will be too low, the keyboard will be placed too high or a little bit of both.  This means the importance of micro-breaks increase, and more frequent changes in posture will be needed.  

If you follow the above protocol you will put yourself in a less compromising position.  However, you still will put your neck in a compromising positioning.  Losing the normal curve in your neck can cause headaches, neck stiffness, numbness and tingling into the arms and hands as well as shoulder pain. If you suffer from any of these symptoms you should seek out a corrective care chiropractor who can assess your neck and let you know if you would do well under care.



Chiropractic For Your Kids

As a Chiropractor, I love caring for babies and kids. Not only do they have a way of brightening the office with smiles and laughter, but there is something very rewarding about being a part of their healthy growth and development.

When people find out that I work with babies and kids, I often get that same look that may be on your face right now, a mix of confusion and curiosity.

Why in the world would an infant need to see a Chiropractor? When it comes down to it, the answer is simple, just like adults babies have a spine and nerve system too. Whether your spine is big or small, there is possibility for misalignment and nerve dysfunction. This is important because the nerves in your body are the information highway for your brain to communicate with the rest of your body—and your brain controls every single function of your body. When there is dysfunction of your spine or nerve system, this can result in symptoms that you may be aware of, like pain or muscle spasms, but often times affects your body in ways that you have no idea about. 

When it comes to babies, this may include overt symptoms like torticollis (head tilt) or scooting, but can also include constipation, gas, colic, reflux, breast feeding difficulty and generalized irritability. As a Chiropractor, I am not concerned with the specific symptom; my focus is on checking for and correcting spinal misalignments and nerve dysfunction to help your baby function optimally, naturally. When your baby functions as he or she was designed, symptoms often resolve as a result, and you have a happy, healthy, thriving baby.

Why does this occur? As mentioned, any form of stress to the spine can lead to spine and nerve dysfunction.  What many do not realize is that the delivery process is the first major stress to your baby’s spine and nerve system. Varying degrees of force are applied to a baby’s head and neck during both vaginal and caesarean deliveries and additional intervention use such as suction or forceps. 

As babies continue to develop, there are key milestones that you should have your baby’s spine checked. These include: on holding up his or her head, when able to sit alone, when starting to crawl, when standing alone, and on taking his or her first steps. The process of mastering these developmental skills often lead to falls, bumps, and bruises, which has a direct impact on their spine and overall health.  

Regardless of the specifics of your pregnancy, the developmental stage of your baby, and whether or not your baby has any of the above symptoms, I recommend having your baby checked by a Chiropractor to ensure proper spinal health and function. Your baby deserves an awesome start to life!

If you are not from the Newmarket Aurora area and would like to find a Pediatric Chiropractor nearby, please visit