It’s All Connected!

by Dr. Margaret L. Meier (Radle) DVM, CVSMT, CAVCA, CIVCA

“Veterinrary spinal manipulative therapy (VSMT)? Is that like chiropractic for animals? How come I didn’t know this was available?” These are questions I face every day in my veterinary practice. As readers of Second Opinion, we are all familiar with chiropractic care for ourselves and our beloved family members. However, what many of us don’t realize is that this care is also available for our beloved animal companions.

Animal chiropractic traces its history back to Dr. Sharon Willoughby and the late 1980s. Dr. Willoughby held dual degrees as a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) and a doctor of chiropractic (DC). Dr. Willoughby began to teach fellow licensed veterinarians and chiropractors the science and skills necessary to treat animals with veterinary chiropractic. As the popularity of veterinary chiropractic grew, unfortunately so did the number of people who were taking advantage of the unsuspecting public. These individuals claimed to be veterinary “adjustors” who had little, if any, qualified training. As a result, a certification process was developed by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA), focusing in North America, as well as the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association (IVCA).

The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association was organized by a collaboration of licensed veterinarians and chiropractors “to ensure the public and the animal chiropractic profession that those candidates who pass written comprehensive and clinical examinations are suitable for certification in the field of animal chiropractic.” The AVCA recognizes four post-graduate programs in animal chiropractic, and these schools are listed on their website. The IVCA “endeavors to establish consistently high standards of veterinary chiropractic through approved educational courses, certification examinations, and the membership code of conduct and standard of proficiency.” Having your animal evaluated by one of these certified professionals is the best way to ensure that your beloved companion receives the best animal chiropractic care possible.

During your animal’s chiropractic examination, the doctor will evaluate many things, including the way your pet walks (gait analysis), the overall health of the nervous system, and the motion and static palpation of the joints of the spine and limbs. During this process, areas of reduced mobility in the spinal column will be diagnosed as a vertebral subluxation complex (VSC) and, if deemed appropriate, an adjustment to this area will be performed. Adjustments must be done to individual joints one at a time. According to the AVCA, “a chiropractic adjustment is defined as a short lever, high velocity controlled thrust by hand or instrument that is directed at specific articulations to correct vertebral subluxations.” These subluxation complexes result in secondary neurologic involvement that decreases the body’s ability to function at optimum levels, resulting in dis-ease.

Some indications for animal chiropractic care include lameness; changes in behavior or the moods of your animal; pain in the neck, back, or tail; injuries from slips, falls, and accidents; and chronic health problems that do not resolve as expected. In my experience as a veterinarian certified by the AVCA, I have treated a variety of animals with varying conditions, including dogs, cats, horses, and cows. I have even treated a guinea pig and a racing pigeon. If you are uncertain if your animal will benefit from veterinary spinal manipulative therapy, I would recommend contacting a certified doctor near you. To help you locate these professionals, the AVCA and IVCA websites include a listing of veterinarians and chiropractors that have been awarded certification by their respective programs.

VSMT, or animal chiropractic, is a manual therapy used for a wide variety of health and performance problems. It is important to remember that this treatment modality is not a replacement for traditional veterinary medicine and surgery. Rather, when used in conjunction with traditional diagnostic tests such as the physical exam, radiographs, and blood work, the best treatment options for the patient can be determined. In addition to conventional and animal chiropractic care; other complementary modalities may be considered, including physical therapy, acupuncture, and massage therapy.

Dr. Margaret L. Meier (Radle) is a 1996 graduate of the University of Wisconsin, School of Veterinary Medicine. In November 2005, she received her certification in veterinary spinal manipulative therapy from Healing Oasis Wellness Center; and in December 2007, she completed the requirements necessary for certification by the AVCA, of which she is currently a member. Dr. Meier (Radle) became a certified member of the IVCA in December 2011. She currently practices at Animal Wellness Center of Buffalo Valley. Visit She can be reached at (715) 926-3836 during regular business hours.


1. “Veterinary Chiropractic,” Michelle J. Rivera and Pedro Luis Rivera, DVM, Veterinary Technician, May 2000, pp. 301–304.
2.  American Veterinary Chiropractic Association website.
3.  International Veterinary Chiropractic Association website.

Pet-Friendly and Earth-Friendly

Your family gets an A+ in being green and using natural products, but does that include Fido and Fluffy? People leave a large carbon footprint, but dogs and cats also leave a carbon footprint—er carbon pawprint. However, even pet products are going greener all the time. A visit to your local pet store will turn up more and more eco-friendly items for your pet, so you can award your cat or dog with an Earth-conscious treat, or bed, or other product. Here are a few great products to look for.

Double D’s B’s Dog Shampoo Bar

A Wisconsin-made product, this doggie shampoo bar is chocked full of such natural ingredients as cotton seed, olive, palm, sunflower, coconut and castor oil; soy; jojoba; shea and beeswax. Other ingredients include lemongrass, eucalyptus, rosemary, lavender and pennyroyal essential oils. Find more on Facebook or call (608) 365-1346.

Purr & Simple Biodegradable Cat Litter

Are you looking for Earth-friendly cat litter? This Purr & Simple litter, made from nutshell byproducts, is low dust and silica free. Best of all, it is biodegradable and, after you clean out the doo-doo, you can add it to your compost bin! Purrfectly biodegradable. See

Harry Barker Bamboo Dog Bowl

Your dog can now eat in style with this bamboo dog bowl, made from sustainable resources such as bamboo fiber and rice husks. If that’s not enough, it’s also lead and cadmium free, so no icky stuff will get into your pet’s yummy din-din or water. Check it out at

NPR Driveway Moments: All About Animals (2 CDs)

Regular: $22.95; Sale: $18.95

Meet a dog who’s addicted to toads, a chatty parrot who tells the truth, and the Stupid Pet Tricks coordinator for the Late Show with David Letterman. Visit the Wait Wait petting zoo and welcome three orphaned hummingbirds home. Heard on National Public Radio, these are the kinds of stories people stay in the car to hear to the end—even if they’re parked in their driveway with the motor running. Some are funny, some are heartrending, all are captivating. 1 1/2 hours.

Could Parasites Be the Culprit in Your Health Mystery?

by Michael J. Court

I have overcome my own health challenge of an unknown source and lived to tell about it. The answer I found to my mystery health problem was pretty easy once I found the underlying cause—but it took some detective work to find it.

Giving back to others has always been important to me. I enjoyed working hard at my clinic and participating in triathlons for fun. During short-term mission/relief work in Africa, I picked up some free-loading parasites, but I didn’t realize I had. These intruders began attacking from the inside, eating away at my body, and creating a disaster far greater than their own size. My health began to decline at an alarming rate, and eventually I could barely walk around the block. As most people would when experiencing such things, I began researching probable causes and nutritional solutions, but nothing I did worked against my invisible enemy. I spent a thousand dollars seeing a traditional physician and was told simply that I had a fever—a disappointing dead end. By a stroke of luck, however, I soon discovered the saving grace of nutrition response testing, performed by a doctor in Minnesota. This gave me hope that I might be able to reverse the crippling symptoms that were ruining my health and threatening my career.

The nutrition response testing system was different than any other healthcare method I had studied. The parasites I was suffering from did not wait for the test results to come back before they began taking over my body. I had to act fast. By using this treatment, my body was able to combat the effects of the egg-laying parasites quickly, and my health was restored. My personal results encouraged me to take a bold career move;  I decided to become an advanced clinically trained nutrition response testing doctor myself. I observed that some patients who suffered from conditions that were parasite-related had never left the country, so they aren’t just an issue if you travel. Parasites are all around us, lurking and waiting for a host to bond with and become extra baggage, if you will.

“You may be the unsuspecting victim of the parasite epidemic that is affecting millions of Americans. It is an epidemic that knows no territorial, economic, or sexual boundaries. It is a silent epidemic of which most doctors in this country are not even aware.” — Anne Louis Gittleman, a nutritionist, international speaker and the author of Guess What Came to Dinner?  Parasites and Your Health

Anne Louis Gittleman is a nutritionist, international speaker, and the author of Guess What Came to Dinner? Parasites and Your Health. She states: “You may be the unsuspecting victim of the parasite epidemic that is affecting millions of Americans. It is an epidemic that knows no territorial, economic, or sexual boundaries. It is a silent epidemic of which most doctors in this country are not even aware.” This is frightening news for most Americans, with their anti-bacterial soap and a wealth of cleaning products in their cupboards, which they think will keep them healthy.

Some clinicians, like Dr. Oz, believe that 80 to 90 percent of all Americans are probably affected by parasites. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies parasite infestation as among the six most dangerous diseases. Many symptoms people struggle with on a chronic basis may in fact be associated with exposure to parasites, such as digestive irregularities, but these parasites may also be the cause of chronic fatigue, anemia, lymphatic swelling, arthritis, recurring rashes, and a general low-energy level.

If you have been exposed to animals or undercooked food, there is a good chance you may have parasites. Many people are able to fight off parasite infestations if their immune system is operating at a peak level, but sometimes even then, the invading opponents can overwhelm a person’s immune system. The best ways to avoid parasite-related health issues are 1) to wash your hands after coming in contact with potential sources like animals, 2) to wash all fruits and vegetables with proper cleaners, and 3) to thoroughly cook your foods. It is also important to maintain a proper balance of good bacteria in the gut and avoid sugary foods. Parasites, as humans, love sugar!

There are numerous ways to naturally handle a parasite problem. If you suspect a parasite-related issue, a thorough analysis by a traditional healthcare provider can get you started on the right path. The frustrating thing, however, is that of the more than 1,000 different kinds of parasites, only about 50 are detectable by standard medical testing. Using alternative health measures can also be helpful in identifying 950+ parasitic organisms that escape standard detection. Each patient that I see has unique problems and varied underlying causes that require a completely personalized program, which may take some time but is ultimately quite thorough. If you can’t find the cause of your life-limiting health condition, maybe parasites are the enemy you’ve been trying to ID. Take action to remove these invasive intruders from your body today. It’s time to start living your life with restored health and without the extra baggage.

Dr. Court is a naturopath, chiropractor, and health educator. He promotes local health events and wellness fairs and writes on a variety of topics related to wellness. He may be reached at Chippewa Valley Wellness at (715) 723-2713 or on the web at

A Horse Is a Horse, of Course, Unless It Is Also a Therapist

by Toni Mattson; Co-Owner Trinity Equestrian Center

When I look at a horse, I see more than the average person does. Yes, I see the childhood icon, the athlete, the friend, and the ribbon winner, but I also see a therapist. A therapist with more intuition and skill than any doctorate could ever provide. Not just a therapist that won’t judge for what is said, but one that brings healthy growth to those that have had their childhood stolen, trauma buried by years of unforgiveness and shame or the secretive cloud of depression. Skeptical?  Good, read on.

Trauma and depression come in all shapes and sizes. It could be a young girl who suffered sexual or physical abuse, a veteran haunted by nightmares of war-time experiences, or a myriad of other possibilities. No matter the cause or description, it is all stored deep inside a person’s being and psyche. The challenge is to effectively get at it.

The horse offers a breathtaking alternative to the traditional talk-therapy and medication approach. It’s an alternative that takes place every time you are in the presence of a horse. It’s called equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP), and it is changing lives.

EAP takes a horse, a mental health practitioner, and a trained equine specialist, and puts them in the arena with a client and a task. As the client does or does not attempt the task, the horse goes to work. A horse’s natural ability to read body language sees beyond words, and sometimes even reveals more than the client was aware of. The equine specialist and mental health practitioner take the information that the horse gives them, and use the horse to work through the issues that surface.

This therapy is ideal for those clients who do not respond well to talk therapy. Vaults that were once tightly shut, open much faster than in more traditional therapy settings. Clients that might often refuse to attend talk therapy come to this therapy eager and ready to move forward.

It is known that horses never lie. Pain hurts, depression is real, aggression has consequences, and body language has meaning. The horse is not only a creature that can accurately reveal what is going on internally, but one that can be trusted. This is a creature that is not being paid to sit and pry. One that is easy to love, difficult to live up to, even harder to manipulate, and worthy of the trust it takes to identify and solve emotional, mental, and social problems. The horse is the most important therapist in the room—the other two are simply there for translation.

Nothing speaks to the effectiveness of this therapy like measurable results. Difficult social skills, negative behaviors, and ill-managed emotions are all revealed by the horse and outwardly realized by the client within very few sessions. We know we’re making progress when medications are reduced, treatment plans are revised after only three sessions because original goals have been met, or self-realizations are reached in just a few arena sessions versus many more generally needed in an office setting.

This amazing therapy sounds like something only offered somewhere distant, and the fact is that it is currently taking place in thirty-eight countries around the world with over 4,100 practitioners. Trinity Equestrian Center right here in Eau Claire has been offering EAP since 2009 with incredible results. Please visit, and the next time you see a horse, imagine the possibilities.