Give a dog a bone adjustment

Veterinarian  finds success with alternative techniques, especially chiropractic treatment

When Dr. Michelle Jobert was in college, with plans to attend veterinary school, her horse, Geo, fractured its pelvis. When the prescribed rest did not improve Geo’s condition, veterinarians told her there was nothing more to be done.

Then, the mother of one of Jobert’s friends was becoming certified in massage therapy, and she agreed to see what she could do to help Geo.

“She started working on him, and she fixed him,” Jobert said. “So, before I ever got into vet school, I knew there was more out there than just traditional Western medicine.”

She was to discover that includes animal chiropractic.

Since returning to her native New Orleans area in 2012 after working in Kentucky and Florida, Jobert’s practice focuses on holistic treatments she learned after her 2001 graduation from LSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine. They include acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, but also chiropractic — care that is mainstream when applied to humans, and has been growing in veterinary acceptance since the 1980s.

Jobert, who lives in Metairie and whose house-call practice extends to Baton Rouge and Mississippi, is one of six American Veterinary Chiropractic Associated certified practitioners in Louisiana. Both chiropractors and veterinarians can achieve certification.

“It is a matter of just educating people about the benefits of it, when it should be used, when it shouldn’t be used,” Jobert said.

“It’s not about just ‘something’s not moving properly, get it working properly.’ It’s really about making sure the nervous system is working optimally, because the nervous system is what rules the body,” she said. “If you don’t have the brain and spinal cord and those nerves branching off working properly, you’re going to have dysfunction everywhere else.”

Julie LoMaglio, one of Jobert’s Baton Rouge clients, began seeking chiropractic treatments for her Rottweiler, Inde, when living in Colorado after an injury and later when he began limping after hiking with her. After moving to Baton Rouge, she found Jobert (welladjustedpet.com) through the AVCA website. The chiropractic adjustment to Inde’s spine and joints make a big difference, LoMaglio said. Inde’s treatments also include acupuncture.

“She has such a huge change in the few days that follow,” LoMaglio said. “She’s pain-free and wants to play, and for an 11½-year-old dog of any breed, especially this one with all the miles she had up in the mountains … If I can give her medical-free pain relief, to me that’s better. It gives her a longer, better quality of life.”

Jobert received her acupuncture certification in 2003 and moved to Florida, where she had a private practice servicing thoroughbred racetracks.

“I was getting results, but I still felt like there was something missing, so I got my chiropractic certification, and that’s when I really started getting the results I wanted, and things started coming together,” she said. “So, I wanted to see if I could practice holistic medicine full time.”

Her chiropractic patients are mostly dogs and horses. The latter, because of their size, are actually easier to treat because she is able to stand while making the necessary adjustments. Smaller animals require her to bend and twist to get in the right position to adjust them, especially if they aren’t cooperating.

The dogs Jobert treats fall mostly into two categories: younger, athletic dogs that get injured in agility competitions, or older dogs falling victim to arthritis or other age-related maladies. Because many of her patients are horses, Jobert has a house-call practice, since it is more practical for her to visit them than the reverse. But the same can be true for smaller pets.

“I have patients who if I didn’t go to them, they wouldn’t get treated,” she said. “Either the people are elderly and can’t get the dog in the car, or the animals when they get into a clinic setting are too nervous and they don’t settle down.

“You want them to be relaxed. If they’re so tense, you can’t necessarily feel all the different problems in the spine and the extremities because you’re fighting against them and they’re just trying to get away when you just need them to relax so you can check range of motion on them.”