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  • Writer's pictureDr. Maya Pande

Knuckle Test

One of the tests that animal chiropractors and vets use to find out what's going on with your pet is the knuckle test. The knuckle test is a good way to determine if certain nerves are firing properly.

While your dog is standing, take a paw and put the top of it on the ground.

(Side note: Getting your dog used to getting his paws handled when he's young is important. It will make it easier to clip their nails, to examine their paws if something's wrong and to wipe them in wet weather. Your dog's vet, groomer and chiropractor will thank you.)

They should immediately right their paw so that the bottom of it is back on the ground. Do this with all the paws. Sometimes they won't even let you place it on the ground. They'll right it in the air. Fantastic!

If they leave the top of the paw on the ground for any length of time (see video), it means that there's a possibility of proprioceptive deficits. Basically that means that your pet doesn't realize that her paw isn't in the right position. This can be due to a delay in the messages going from her foot to her brain. Her paw doesn't know anything's wrong so it doesn't send a "fix it" request back to the brain. Sometimes this is caused a serious condition but other times, a misalignment of a vertebra or bone in the spine is the reason. The misalignment is irritating nerves and preventing from working properly.

If you do this test and notice a delay or absence, take a breath. All is not lost. The best first step is to talk to your vet. Your vet should do more tests in the office to find out if there's something more serious behind it all. There's always a chance there's not.

In many cases, chiropractic can help a delayed knuckling response go back to normal. When this happens it's a great day! Pet, owner and I are all very happy.


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