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Bemidji chiropractor manages dual practice

Striker, a 7-year-old Shih Tsu with back trouble, relaxes in the arms of his owner, Katy Carter of Detroit Lakes, Minn., as Dr. Jason Dixon performs chiropractic adjustment on the dog's spine. Pioneer Photo/Molly Miron

Dr. Jason Dixon began his Bemidji chiropractic practice in 2009.

In the Chiropractic Professionals office where he and Dr. Robert Johnson work, Dixon offers the standard chiropractic care to human patients. But Dixon is also northern Minnesota's sole animal chiropractor.

Dixon, a graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato with a bachelor's degree in 2001 and Northwestern College of Chiropractic with a Doctor of Chiropractic degree in 2009, studied animal chiropractic through Options for Animals, specialty chiropractic training. He is a member of the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association and Minnesota Animal Chiropractic Care.

Dixon takes care of small animal patients - dogs and cats - at Dr. Tom Rietveld's Headwaters Veterinary Clinic and large animals - horses and cattle - at the Sparby Ranch near Blackduck. However, Dixon also makes house and farm calls and said his animal business is mostly mobile.

"I'm the only one in northern Minnesota chiropractic-wise," Dixon said.

Dixon works on subluxations, sites where vertebrae and other joints are misaligned causing nerve interference in humans and animals. He said the five signs he looks for before seeking to correct the problems are temperature, inflammation, tenderness, motion restriction and static misalignment.

"If I don't find all those things, it's not a subluxation, and I don't touch it," he said.

"I've sent referrals his way," Rietveld said. "I've been impressed."

Dixon said he can't take X-rays of animals. That is veterinarians' purview. However, he said, he can request them. Anti-inflammatory or pain relievers also must be prescribed by the vet.

"I try to keep it as natural as possible," he said. "Chiropractic is pretty much holistic care."

However, he said, gradually more vets are hearing of animal chiropractic and referring patients to him.

Recently, he treated a pair of small dogs owned by Katy Carter of Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Striker, a 7-year-old Shih Tsu, had hurt his back somehow last summer. He had been in a great deal of pain, so much so that he didn't want to be touched, Carter said. She said the breed comes from the ancient Chinese Imperial Court where they were cuddly lap dogs.

"They were bred to do nothing, so they're kind of lazy," she said.

She said when Dixon started treating Striker, she saw an improvement immediately.

"The next day, he let me pet him," she said. "When he got better, his tail went up."

Now, Striker wants all the petting he can get and is continually wagging his brushy tail.

Her other dog is a West Highland Terrier, 12-year-old Scooter, who has arthritis.

"He's getting stiffer," Carter said.

As Dixon worked on Scooter's pelvis the dog relaxed and seemed to enjoy the manipulation.

"See how that kind of quiets him down?" Dixon said to Carter. "You like that, don't you, Bud," he said to the dog.

Dixon said gaining the animals' trust is key to their chiropractic treatment.

"If you get on the right page with them, and they know you're not going to hurt them, you're OK," he said. "You have to go down to their level."

Dixon predicted that some time in the future, specialist animal chiropractors will be certified as primary caregivers.

Dixon and his wife, Kellie, moved to Bemidji because they admired the natural beauty of the location.

"We both grew up in small towns and we loved the idea of moving back to an area where people still waved to one another," he said. "Our decision came down to one other aspect - it was close enough to the outdoors for me and it had a Target for her."