Pets may not be able to complain about an aching back or painful shoulder, but that doesn't mean that they don't suffer from these and other maladies. When a visit to the veterinarian doesn't relieve pain, pet owners are willing to do whatever it takes to help their pets. In 2016, owners spent almost $15 billion on pet supplies and over-the-counter medications, according to the American Pet Products Association. If you've been considering expanding your practice, providing chiropractic care to pets is worth considering.
Benefits of Providing Services to Pets
In addition to earning the gratitude of concerned pet owners, offering veterinary chiropractic services to animal offers these benefits:
- Increased Income. Adding veterinary chiropractic to your list of services can boost your income, even though you'll probably charge your animal patients less than your human ones. According to an article in Dynamic Chiropractic, chiropractors can expect to make between $45 to $190 per adjustment, depending on the species they treat, modalities and location. Because pets don't have insurance coverage for chiropractic treatments, you won't have to deal with insurance companies or wait weeks to receive reimbursements.
- Ready-Made Client Base. Since many of your patients probably have pets, you'll have a ready source of patients. Best of all, you won't need to work hard to convince your patients to consider veterinary chiropractic. After all, they already understand the many benefits of chiropractic treatment.
- Less Competition. Although more and more chiropractors are becoming certified to treat animals, most metropolitan areas only have a few chiropractors who offer the service. If you would like to see how many of your competitors treat animals, take a look at the "Find a Doctor" feature on the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association website.
Issues That Could Affect Your Decision
Offering pet services does have a few drawbacks, such as:
- Expense. You'll need to enroll in a veterinary chiropractic training program in order to become certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association. Although some programs offer online classes, you'll still need to attend some in-person classes. Classes are often held on weekends, but may require travel to distant cities. Once you're certified, you'll need to pay for continuing education courses to maintain your certification.
- Independence. Some states do not allow chiropractors to offer their services directly to the public. Instead, you must establish a relationship with a veterinarian and see patients by referral only or must be supervised by a veterinarian. Lack of independence can affect your earning power and can be annoying if you enjoy working alone.
If you're an animal lover, veterinary chiropractic may be a good way to increase your income and improve the quality of life for the pets in your area. Conducting a thorough investigation of your local market, educational programs and other issues will help you decide if treating animals makes sense for your practice.
American Pet Products Association: Pet Industry Market Size and Ownership Statistics
New York Times: At the Chiropractor, Well-Adjusted Pets, 8/22/13
Dynamic Chiropractic: Talking to the Animals: The Benefits of Animal Chiropractic, 2/12/09
Chiropractic Economics: Why Veterinary Chiropractic Should Be Bigger Than It Is, 3/8/17