Why use it?

McTimoney chiropractic treatment can help relieve an animal’s pain and restore movement if they have been compensating or suffered a musculoskeletal injury. The vertebrae in the spine have a natural range of motion, to facilitate normal locomotion. If you were to watch a horse or dog move from above, you’d be able to see the spine almost swing as the limbs hit the ground. A restriction occurs when the vertebrae get fixed within this range of motion, creating dysfunction. Whilst this does not necessarily prohibit the animal moving, it does create a pattern of locomotion which is not optimal and can lead to muscular discomfort and nerve impingement.

Horses and dogs have a very advanced compensatory mechanism; when dysfunction occurs they need to keep moving. Studies have shown that the centre of mass moves when a lameness occurs, helping to facilitate weight being taken away from the affected limb for instance. As the pattern of movement changes the body itself experiences change, to help support this. A joint restriction is part of that compensatory mechanism.

These can be caused by a number of different things, both acute (short term) and chronic (long term) influences can lead to the development of joint restriction and associated soft tissue dysfunction. In horses for example, it could be an injury or accident, or a more long term issue such as foot balance or poorly fitting tack. Once the problem is resolved, or injury healed the dysfunction remains. The animal can move and function normally, but may still show signs of discomfort, stiffness and some experience changes in behaviour which is when some owners ask for investigation as performance and everyday comfort is still not resolved.

McTimoney practitioners rely on the owner’s observations and the veterinary surgeon’s subsequent referrals. Indications in animals vary and most owners will recognise when their animal is in pain, or showing signs of distress. As a guide owners should consider seeking treatment if their animal displays any of the following signs:


  • Crying out when getting up
  • Difficulty climbing stairs or getting into cars
  • Signs of discomfort when being stroked on their backs
  • A reluctance to exercise
  • Stiffness or pain after exercise


  • Uneven strides or movement
  • Uneven wear of shoes
  • Sore or cold backs, uneven pressure from saddles or the saddle slipping to one side
  • Unexplained deterioration in usual performance
  • Asymmetry, such as stiffness on one rein, or a disunited canter
  • Unexplained resistances, such as napping, rearing, refusing, bucking, etc.
  • Uneven muscle development or atrophy


  • Lameness after a fall or accident where alternative diagnoses have been ruled out
  • Uncharacteristic changes in behaviour, performance or temperament
  • Limb-dragging or odd, irregular action
  • Recurrence of symptoms previously successfully treated by chiropractic treatment
  • Absence of any resolution of the problem using conventional methods
  • Rehabilitation after acute trauma for horses, dogs and cats

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