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Chiropractors offer treatments to pets as alternative to using drugs

By Staff | May 28, 2009

Thirteen-year-old Oz Gorman did not have long to wait for his regular visit to the chiropractor.
Within five minutes, Dr. Louis Scoma, a local chiropractic physician, placed him on the examination table to use an activator gun to realign the bones on his spinal column.
Moments later, Scoma watched as Oz trotted away.
Perhaps more astonishing than the ease of the visit is the fact that Oz, an elderly Jack Russell terrier, is one of the first dogs in Cape Coral to be seen by a chiropractor specializing in animal manipulation.
Sue Gorman, Oz’s owner, said her dog was not acting like himself for a long time, seeming sedated and arching his back when he ran around the house.
She could tell that Oz’s back was giving him trouble when he could not catch a snake, and he has “always been a hunter,” Gorman said. Being 91 years old, in human years, and slightly overweight contributed to a degeneration of the discs in Oz’s lower back.
Oz received two other treatments May 13 and 20 and, according to Scoma, Wednesday’s would be his last. After his treatment, Oz circled the room seemingly refreshed and with a youthful excitement.
“He’s done well lately,” said Gorman. “It doesn’t hurt at all.”
Scoma and Dr. Dixie Brown, veterinarian at the East/West Veterinary Care Center, X-ray and evaluate each animal before they receive the veterinarian orthopedic manipulation for an average of three to four visits.
The idea of animals receiving chiropractic services started approximately 15 years ago and has spread across the nation. Scoma, a chiropractic physician, recently completed his training in VOM and is offering his services at three clinics besides East/West — Kindness Animal Hospital, Santa Barbara Animal Hospital and Associates in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery in Fort Myers.
According to Scoma, animal manipulation gives veterinarians an alternative to using drugs that may harm an animal in the long run.
“This gives the veterinarians another mode of treatment,” said Scoma. “Most veterinarians use steroids or anti-inflammatory shots, but it puts toxicity in the animals.”
Steroids, for example, can harm the liver functions of an older dog. Instead, animals can receive a noninvasive and painless session with Scoma.
On Wednesday, Oz had the bones in his spine realigned by Scoma’s activator gun, which sends a vibration into the bone. He manipulates each of the spinal columns and looks for a panniculus-like reflex, or a twitch by the dog indicating that the bone has been successfully realigned.
“I do a series of three passes down the spine,” Scoma said. “This is another tool that vets can use. The animals respond faster than most people.”
A successful realignment of the bones can drastically change a dog’s physical being. The procedure assists in correcting lameness, disc problems or other musculoskeletal problems.
A miniature poodle named Andy also received the manipulation Wednesday at East/West Veterinary Care Center.
Scoma said the techniques can be applied to dogs, cats and horses.
Locally, Gorman works for an organization called Save The Pets (savethepets.com) to bring pet food to local food banks like Harry Chapin. In turn, the food is doled out to families with pets that cannot afford to buy it.