Like people, animals suffer from back, neck and other musculoskeletal problems, and can benefit from manipulative therapy.
The technique was developed by John McTimoney, firstly for use on humans and then animals. Since the 1950s, McTimoney animal therapists have been helping horses, dogs, cats and farm animals with this non-invasive technique. The treatment is carried out entirely by hand, and most animals readily accept this safe and effective treatment.
McTimoney is a holistic treatment, and the whole of the animal's body
is assessed for any misalignments. Misalignment, describes a joint that has become fixed within it's normal range of movement. This can potentially result in a reduced range of movement in the joint, muscle spasm and impingement of nerves. This can cause the animal pain or discomfort, and affect the function of the nervous system. In real terms the effects of misalignments can potentially result in pain, discomfort and a reduction in performance.
The treatment consists of a relatively gentle, but very fast adjustment to the misaligned vertebrae. The speed of the adjustment overcomes the forces of the muscles and ligaments holding the vertebrae in this position.
Misalignments can be caused by many different things, they may have been caused by a traumatic incident such as a fall, or they can occur over time often due to compensating for a weakness or injury. See the sections on treatment for horses and dogs for further information.
Many owners seek McTimoney treatment for their animal following an accident, such as a fall or collision, in order to relieve pain and restore function and movement. However, misalignments in the body may have long term causes; this may be due to an animal's conformation, for example breeds of dog with very long backs and short-legs are often susceptible to back injuries. For horses ill fitting tack, poor hoof balance and even an unbalanced rider can be the cause of problems.
The nature of the animal's work can also potentially result in injury. Working dogs travelling over difficult terrain or agility dogs jumping and turning at speed, are at a higher risk of suffering injury than many pet animals. Similarily with horses, the demands of disciplines such as eventing, dressage and showjumping place strain on the horse's body. The correct alignment of the spine and plevis is therefore important to enable maximum performance.