The Whole Pet

Complementary/Integrative Medicine for Your Pet

Mobile Appointments - Care in your home for your beloved companion

Dr. Hites has a passion for maintaining the health and quality of life for your canine and feline companions. After graduating from veterinary school in 1992 from the University of Illinois, Dr. Hites worked in General and Exotic Practice for 5 years. When the limitations of traditional medicine no longer allowed some patients to maintain good quality lives, Dr. Hites sought out alternatives to allow her to provide the best care possible for each patient.

Dr. Hites has been studying integrative and alternative options for patients since 1997 and is certified in animal chiropractic by the AVCA and certified in animal acupuncture by IVAS. She has also completed hundreds of hours of training in Western herbal medicine, Eastern herbal medicine, food therapy options, and supplements.

Since Dr. Hites does not perform routine health care including wellness examinations, vaccinations, heartworm testing, lab work testing, surgery, radiographs, or advanced diagnostics, she relies on maintaining a good working relationship with your primary veterinarian so that together they can determine the best path to achieve/maintain health for you pet.

Chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture treatments, and herbal consultations are available by appointment.

Susan Hites, DVM, cAVCA, CVA


What is animal chiropractic (aka spinal manipulation)?

Animal chiropractic is the non-surgical, drug-free modality that involves manipulating the vertebrae of the spine in order to correct biomechanical dysfunctions of the musculoskeletal system which, if not corrected, may cause disturbances in the normal function of the nervous system. The spinal cord carries the nerves that extend to every organ and tissue of the body and thus controls all aspects of an animal’s bodily functions. Since this command center is protected by the vertebral column and the nerves exit the spinal cord between the bones (vertebrae), the proper movement and function of the spine is imperative to maintain health. Daily life – stress, fatigue, overuse, underuse, poor nutrition, and trauma – are a few causes that can cause improper spinal movement, which in turn may cause inflammation of the surrounding tissues – ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves. As a result, nerve impulses (messages) may not get to their proper destination, or they may carry inaccurate information.

Symptoms of an improperly moving spine may be noticeable such as lameness, gait abnormalities, pain, decreased athletic ability, decreased ability with stairs, problems getting on/off furniture, sensitivity to being touched, changes in behavior, or changes in posture. However, an improperly functioning spine may also show more subtle signs with respect to organ function – if organs are not receiving normal nerve impulses, they cannot heal and function at a favorable level.

Healthy animals are also candidates for receiving chiropractic care. Maintaining proper spinal movement allows for optimal function of muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons- which leads to improved mobility, flexibility, endurance, performance, and decreased risk of injury. Regarding the broader effects of maintaining proper alignment, benefits may include improvements in immune function, metabolism, organ function, and the body’s natural ability to heal. In short, chiropractic can be used as part of an integrative wellness program to maintain your pet’s health.

Thus, the goal of spinal manipulation is to restore or maintain normal movement and function to the vertebral column in order to allow for normal neurologic function, which in turn allows the body to function optimally.

Animal chiropractic is not meant to replace traditional veterinary care but rather be used as part of an integrative treatment plan in conjunction with your regular veterinarian to achieve the best possible outcome for each patient.

What is veterinary acupuncture?

Veterinary Acupuncture is a pain-free, drug-free modality that involves inserting thin needles into specific points that reside on meridians (similar to highways or channels) along the body. These meridians allow the movement of Qi (or life energy) throughout the body. In healthy patients, Qi is balanced, but when a patient is in a diseased state, stagnation, excess, or deficiency of Qi may occur. The goal of acupuncture is to balance the body by facilitating the harmonious flow of Qi throughout the body. This goal is accomplished by stimulating points on the body to move this Qi and induce healing. Many research studies have proven that acupuncture is beneficial in reducing pain, regulating gastrointestinal motility, decreasing inflammation, stimulating the immune system, aiding in hormone regulation, stimulating nerves, relieving muscle spasms, removing metabolic waste and toxins, and increasing blood circulation and oxygenation. Because of its benefits, acupuncture can be used to help decrease the negative side effects that some prescription medications may have on a patient’s internal organs, or in some cases, acupuncture can be used to decrease the need for certain medications. Acupuncture can be used safely alongside other more traditional treatments. Although, the modality of acupuncture cannot cure every disease, its use with traditional western medicine has immense potential.

A few examples of conditions that may see improvement with acupuncture include:

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Strains or sprains

  • Spondylosis

  • Lumbosacral disease

  • Intervertebral disk disease

  • Traumatic nerve injuries

  • Degenerative myelopathy

  • GOLPP (geriatric onset laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy)

  • Chronic skin and ear problems

  • Chronic gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, anorexia, vomiting

  • Seizures

  • Chronic kidney disease

  • Chronic liver disease

  • Chronic pancreatitis,

  • Urine and fecal Incontinence

  • Pain and inflammation

  • Patients needing to find an alternative solution to treat medical conditions due to experiencing negative side effects from prescription medication (such as gastrointestinal issues or organ dysfunction)

What to expect during acupuncture?

A veterinary acupuncturist will take a thorough history and perform an examination, which includes checking pulses, inspecting the tongue, and palpating for reactions at certain points on the animal’s body. After this examination, the animal is diagnosed with a specific pattern, which then helps determine the best points to use. Several methods of stimulation of the acupuncture points can be used: pressure, needles, fluid, electrical current, laser and heat.

A typical acupuncture session will last about an hour. The number and frequency of sessions will depend on the condition being treated. At least three to five sessions may be needed before improvement is seen. Most animals will calmly accept the acupuncture treatment and some will even take a nap. Although acupuncture is a very safe medical procedure, rare side effects that may occur include; lethargy, redness or bleeding at needle insertion points, and slight irritation upon needle insertion.

Acupuncture is not meant to replace traditional veterinary care but rather be used as part of an integrative treatment plan in conjunction with your regular veterinarian to achieve the best possible outcome for each patient.

The Whole Pet looks forward to working with you and your companion!