Episode 30: Canine Chiropractic Care - Improving Your Dog’s Quality of Life with Dr. Brooke

Corey McCusker  00:03
Hello dog lovers, and welcome to Muttz with Mannerz™, Canine Academy Podcast, where we’ll share dog training tips and educational information to help you raise your pup, young or old, so they can be a loving part of your family and your community for life. I’m your host, Corey McCusker, Canine Coach. And today I’m thrilled to have with me, Dr. Brooke Deschamps, Certified Animal Chiropractor. Let me tell you a bit about our guest today, Dr. Brooke. Dr. Brooke grew up in a small rural community in southwestern Ontario, with a house full of four-legged family members. From a very young age she had an immense love of all animals, and inspired to one day work with them. She attended Dalhousie University for her undergraduate studies in biology and business, with the goal of becoming a veterinarian. While volunteering at countless vet clinics, the SPCA, and other animal shelters, she realized that it wasn’t the path for her. After becoming inspired by an anatomy professor, a local chiropractor, she discovered animal chiropractor. While discussing alternative options to help her Golden Retriever, Max, regain strength in his hind end. She immediately applied to the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic college known as CMCC, with a new goal in sight. While completing her clinical internship at St. Michael’s Hospital, Dr. Brooke had the privilege of being one of two students accepted into the Veterinarian Chiropractor Learning Centers Animal Chiropractor course. Upon graduation from CMCC, she opened the doors to Leaps and Bounds Animal Chiropractor in Stouffville in 2018. Dr. Brooke is passionate about holistic and natural health care, and looks at each patient with a goal of providing them the best quality of life while focusing on functional movement, healthy aging, and injury prevention. Welcome, Brooke. 

Dr. Brooke  02:02
Hi, thanks so much for having me. 

Corey McCusker  02:05
So, Brooke – or should I say Dr. Brooke – share with us more about what you do as an animal chiropractor.

Dr. Brooke  02:12
Yeah, so I basically, you know, work on a lot of dogs and some cats, and I look at kind of functionally how they move and basically being able to provide them the best quality of life. So whether that looks like for them reducing their pain, improving their mobility and function, or you know, just keeping them at the top of their game if they’re an athlete or a show dog.

Corey McCusker  02:34
Which I have an athlete and so I might be using your services, hopefully not, but maybe one day I might. So can you explain what the difference is? Because I mean, I listened to, or read your bio there and you went to, you know, school, and I’m assuming you learned about chiropractor, human, but can you tell us what the difference is between a canine chiropractor and a human chiropractor?

Dr. Brooke  02:56
Yeah, absolutely. So I’m actually a dual-certified Animal Chiropractor and Chiropractor. In order to become an animal chiropractor, you’re supposed to already be a human chiropractor. So as you mentioned in my bio, I was able to be a student while I was finishing that degree through CMCC. And I was accepted in the program. So as soon as I graduated, I was dual-certified. Most people have been to a human chiropractor before. However, I think now that it mainly depends on the practitioner that you see. So I find that chiropractic care, physiotherapy, and even osteopathic medicine, the lines are becoming very blurred in terms of what that practitioner can perform on you and treat you for. So it’s really dependent on the practitioner and how they treat. That being said, I do find that canine chiropractic is a little bit more gentle than people think it would be compared to their experience with human chiropractic care. However, we’re still you know, focusing on the treatments of the joints, the muscles and the nervous system.

Corey McCusker  03:51
Okay, and I’m just thinking and while you’re talking there is, like you said, you did cats and dogs? Are their bodies similar? Like our spines, I’m just wondering . . .

Dr. Brooke  04:03
Yeah, absolutely. So it’s very interesting, because a dog and a human actually, we have all the same bones, we have all the same joints, there’s just some more of some and some less of them. So for instance, in our spine, we have the same number of cervical or your neck vertebra. But in their low back, they actually have less than we do. So, but it’s very, very similar. So their shoulder joint is the same as our shoulder joint. They just happen to be on four legs. 

Corey McCusker  04:29
I was going to say they’re on four legs. So yeah, definitely. So traditional medicine, most of us know, and many of us with dogs, we go to the vet, and the options when our animal is maybe injured or that is normally to medicate or do surgery. So where do you fit in with this?

Dr. Brooke  04:49
Yeah, so chiropractic care is a complementary alternative kind of approach to care. So that means that it’s not replacing veterinary care at all. It’s actually just an option that if somebody is looking for treatment outside of that typical, as you mentioned, medication or surgery. There are some veterinary clinics that do offer rehabilitation services. So like rehab programs or underwater treadmills, but it’s very, very few and far between. Chiropractic care is just that, it’s an alternative approach to care for those people who are, you know, looking for something that’s outside of the typical vet office, I think a good way to look at it is, you know, for us, people, there’s a huge movement right now in looking for, you know, naturopathic care or physiotherapy as opposed to jumping the gun and going right into a surgery or medication or whatnot. So it’s very similar in that regard.

Corey McCusker  05:39
Okay, that really makes sense and puts it in perspective. And I had become familiar with animal chiropractor, when Barbara, one of our trainers, her Bijon was at daycare, whatever, and somebody kind of jumped on his back or whatever. So that was an option she wanted to explore. And that’s kind of what opened up my eyes to what was available out there. So . . . can you talk about, so I just talked about Barbara and her dog going, because that’s where he had heard his back, and she was looking for some alternatives, what are maybe a few reasons – three to four reasons  – that pet parent would come to you with their dog?

Dr. Brooke  06:22
Absolutely. So I would say the number one thing that I see in clinic is the general aging process in dogs. So that’s that hind end weakness or, you know, osteoarthritic changes, that is making your dog maybe a little bit more uncomfortable or difficulty getting up and laying down, or going upstairs, or just moving how they used to move. So definitely healthy aging. Second thing would be, definitely acute or chronic injury. So whether that’s a disc herniation, a pinched nerve, any neurological conditions, even like a muscle strain, or a joint sprain, a lameness or a limp, any of that sort of thing. We also have, as I mentioned before, injury prevention. So that’s typically for whether it’s your family member, or you know, your athletic dog or a show dog. A lot of people are looking at that preventative side of things right now. And then lastly, we can always help with things like incontinence, for instance, because that’s typically related to a nerve being compressed. So once we get some movement in the back or into the pelvic area, things like incontinence can actually be improved as well.

Corey McCusker  07:25
Excellent. All right. So I decide that I’m going to say my dog needs to see you because they’ve got something going on with their body, the things that you just mentioned. What would the treatment and the assessment process look like? guess the assessment process, and then just some of the treatments that will be followed from that.

Dr. Brooke  07:47
Yeah, absolutely. So I mean, first and foremost, whenever we have a new client who’s coming through the door, we’re going to be doing a total review of their health history. So we’re going to make sure you know that they have had that standard veterinary care, and that they’re all up to date on anything that would be kind of outside of our scope of practice. So you know, if there was a history of a huge trauma, like getting hit by a car, or I don’t know, falling down the stairs or something like that, and we were worried that there might be like a fracture or something like that, we definitely need to have that looked at by a vet first. But once we’re all good to go, we review the health history, we go through a full physical exam, which includes a neurological assessment as well. So I basically check them out, nose to tail. I check out every single joint on their body. I assess the movement. I see how the muscles feel in terms of like tension and mobility. I look at range of motion in both the spine, so you know, like the neck and the low back, as well as all of the limbs – front end as well as hind end. And I’m looking for any, like tenderness to touch or evasion of touch when I’m assessing those joints. As well, then I kind of jump into reviewing what I found. So reviewing your plan of management, what I would recommend, and then if treatment is appropriate, we would actually do a treatment that day as well. And treatment is really dependent on you know, the dog and the condition that they’re coming in for. So although like as I mentioned, I see a ton of aging dogs so that hind end weakness, a lot of times what treatment will consist of is going to be some light adjustments, whether it’s through the spine or through the extremities, just to get the areas that aren’t moving, moving again. That’s really, an adjustment is truly about inducing movement into a joint that’s not moving. And then of course, from there, we have neurological effects and muscular effects that go along with that. But we’re always going to implement some sort of an adjustment, and then we’re gonna get into some soft tissue work. So just like again, if you’ve ever been to a physio or a chiropractor or a massage therapist, they work on elongating those muscles and getting more movement through there and trying to release some of that tension. And then lastly, I always, always, always include a rehab plan with my patients. That’s going to basically have that dog hold the effects of whether it’s the adjustment or the soft tissue or whatever we’re trying to achieve, and be able to actually make progress. Because you know, we don’t want them in our office every week until the end of time. And if I was just doing, you know, maintenance care without some rehab, they’re more likely to have to come in because we’re not addressing kind of what caused that injury in the first place. You know, it might be idiopathic, or meaning like we don’t know, or it was a random injury. But it also might be something that could have been prevented, you know, like that hind end weakness. If you work on it when they’re a little bit younger and really strengthen up the hind end, you’re less likely to actually need more care at the end of your dog’s life.

Corey McCusker  10:24
Okay, so I think you kind of answered what my next question is, but I’ll just . . . So it’s not just a one-time thing. And that’s where you mentioned, maintenance and rehab. So you would – based on your assessment – come up with a treatment plan and or rehab, whatever, and then it would be, would it be like weekly? Would it be once? Like, how often would they be coming in seeing you?

Dr. Brooke  10:24
Yeah, so again, it’s really dependent on the dog, just like all people are different, and all injuries are different. Same thing with the dogs. So, of course, I do see, you know, kind of a standard and what kind of tends to work. So let’s say it’s an acute or a chronic injury that’s coming in. Acute meaning it just happened, it happened within you know, 72 hours or whatnot. And chronic meaning it’s been probably longer than six weeks. That plan of management is going to look a little bit different in a chronic patient, because it’s going to take time to chip away of that chronic tissue, because I’m sure everyone can kind of relate to when you, if you have an old injury that lingers a long time, it’s really hard to get rid of it. So that kind of plan of management is going to be a little bit longer. And it takes a little bit of time to work through it. Although we’re still able to see those lasting effects down the road, we just want to go nice and slowly, because what we don’t want to do is get into this kind of once, as you mentioned once a week treatment until the end of time. So I really try to start off with you know, we worked through a little bit more hands on care in the beginning, and then as your dog is – whether they’re feeling better, or they’re moving better, or they have their energy back – as they start to move through our treatment plan, we actually start to treat less in clinic and you do more rehab at home. And again, that rehab is really to maintain stability in the recovery of the animal. 

Corey McCusker  12:06
So I guess there’s another thing you’re kind of reading my mind kind of thing where you say, “the rehab at home”. So you send the pet parents home with some things at maybe sometimes to do with their dog at home?

Dr. Brooke  12:20
Absolutely, every single patient is going to leave my office with some rehab, whether even if it’s like a severe injury, meaning like a disc herniation dog who comes in completely paralyzed, and they’ve been told their only option is either, you know, euthanize or perform this $10,000 surgery on them. Even though we do a lot of hands on treatment in the beginning, I’m still going to you know, give them that proprioceptive feedback, you know, play with their paddies sort of a thing, because earlier implementation of rehab programs is better off for long-term effects.

Corey McCusker  12:48
Okay. Excellent, interesting. So, Dr. Brooke, what financial investment does a parent have if they’re going, if they’re going to be seeing you? Like, what kind of is it . . . Like, I mean, I know vet bills cost. And so I mean, if we add on, you’re coming in on board too, what’s kind of the investment a pet parent would have?

Dr. Brooke  13:11
Yeah, so I mean, it’s significantly less than traditional vet bills for you know, the initial exam is always going to be the most expensive thing. So for instance, I don’t mind mentioning my initial exam is $125, currently, but it’s a full-hour assessment. And it’s a one-time fee. After that, subsequent visits are really, really reasonable. And again, we’re looking at a preventative maintenance program. So I don’t even know if I mentioned last time when we’re talking about the maintenance care, when we’re trying to basically get you in here at the office as little as possible. So my ideal client, let’s say an older, but still healthy dog – let’s say like a 10-year-old Golden Retriever, for instance – my goal is always to get them in here, maybe four times a year, so once every three months. So that investment over the course of you know, the last couple years of your dog’s life is very, very minimal. If you have a really young healthy puppy, for instance, and maybe need to see them once a year for a check in, unless you have a concern, obviously, or an injury that happens. But it’s very, very minimal. And honestly, I see it time and time again, by people who come to my office, and they’re like, Why didn’t I bring my dog in sooner? Because, you know, I’m seeing a happier dog, I’m seeing a healthier dog and I’m getting more quality of life for my dog.

Corey McCusker  14:22
Now, that’s so true. And I think, you know, you kind of hit on it there is it’s the preventative, and it’s avoiding the vet care, not that we’re not going to be taking our dogs to vet care, but it’s definitely that happier, healthier pet that we’re looking for. So that’s great. 

Dr. Brooke  14:37
Absolutely. Yeah, we want to leave that care, sorry, we want to leave that care for when you know, it’s truly needed, when that’s something super serious or you know, is there vaccines or whatnot, but we also want to look at different options to prevent you know, that pain medication for no reason.

Corey McCusker  14:51
Okay. And just, I mean, my last question, and it’s more like, I mean, that’s where you talked about being one of two students being accepted into that program in that too. How many, like, are there many of you out there in the world? Or is it something that is not . . .

Dr. Brooke  15:07
So I find that I mean, nowadays you find a chiropractor on every corner, to be honest. But it also takes into play that the chiropractic college is right here in Toronto. There’s only one in Canada, an English one. There’s one in Quebec, but you have to be from that area, and I think there’s like 10 students per year. So the chiropractic college is here in Toronto. So just because of the age of you are and kind of where you are in life, when you go to the college, a lot of people end up settling in Toronto. So the GTA has one of the highest numbers of chiropractors throughout Canada. In terms of chiropractic care, we definitely do not have enough animal chiropractors. I would honestly say that that is something that has truly built my business, not only, so as I mentioned, I’m an animal chiropractor, but I also have a women’s health clinic here in town. And the animal side of things has really built my other practice because it just, there’s not enough of us. I think there’s, I have people who I serve from, people drive in for like, an hour away. I have people who drive in from Cambridge area. It’s just it’s absolutely crazy. And I wish that more people would get into the profession, because it’s definitely needed. It’s kind of booming right now. And you know, I would love to be able to refer people so that they’re not having to drive that hour to come in for care.

Corey McCusker  16:14
So maybe we can get the word out. 

Dr. Brooke  16:17

Corey McCusker  16:18
Okay. Well, Dr. Brooke, thank you so much. I don’t have any more questions. If there’s something that I can just ask you that to, you know, any last words is what would you say to our listeners today?

Dr. Brooke  16:30
Yeah, so I would definitely, strongly urge you to, you know, look at your alternative care that’s out there in the world, you know, we have a lot of great practitioners. And if you know something doesn’t fit right, or feel right for you, for your dog, always, always get second opinions and third opinions, I think that that’s my biggest drive behind what I do is really explore your alternative providers. And those, we really want to find somebody who will work closely with your vet as well, so that we can all be on the same health care team to provide your pet basically the best possible care that we can give them. So yeah, so thank you so much for having me. It’s been awesome. And I look forward to chatting soon.

Corey McCusker  17:06
That’s great. Thank you so much for joining us, Dr. Brooke, and sharing what you do and how you help. For those of you listening and you want some more information about Dr. Brooke and Leaps and Bounds, you can visit the website, which is, www.empowerhealthboutique.ca/leapsandbounds. We will be sharing it in the show notes. And we’ll also have some other links in the show notes with other support pieces that you can look up about the animal chiropractor. And so what I’d like to say is if you are interested in learning more, look at those links. And also if you’re wanting more information on Muttz with Mannerz™, and what services we offer, you can visit our website at www.muttzwithmannerz.com. And if you’re interested in future podcasts or reading our blogs, you can go to our website and look under the education link. Also, if you’re interested in a certain podcast that we haven’t done yet, and you would like us to do it, you can email us at info@muttzwithmannerz.com. Dr. Brooke, thanks so much for joining us. Thank you for those listening today. And our goal at Muttz with Mannerz™, is to enrich the lives at both ends of the leash. So hopefully today we did that. And thank you, and have a great day everyone.


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