On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Chelsey Rettmann of Redwood Chiropractic in Redwood Falls tended to a patient. While the chiropractic services Rettmann was offering may have been traditional, the setting and the client would not necessarily meet most people’s definition.
Rettmann’s temporary exam room was a livestock trailer. Her client was a Simmental heifer. Moving her hands along the spine, Rettmann was providing an adjustment for the animal that would soon be on its way to a show in North Dakota.
For Rettmann, providing chiropractic services for animals is not out of the ordinary.
In fact, it’s a big part of her practice. Rettmann, who grew up on a farm near Lake Lillian, spent a lifetime surrounded by animals, whether she was helping on the family’s dairy farm or showing horses, cattle or dogs as a 4-H member. So, her decision to work with animals as part of her career made sense.
Yet, that is not how things started.
Heading to Presentation College in Aberdeen, S.D., Rettmann planned to pursue a degree in radiological technology, but she soon discovered that was not for her. So, she approached her advisor and received some advice. That advice led Rettmann to switch her career path graduating from Presentation College and then moving on to earn a chiropractic degree from Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington. The chiropractic field was not an unfamiliar one for Rettmann, who, from age 14, received chiropractic care.
When the idea of becoming a chiropractor was presented to Rettmann, she took the opportunity to shadow a few chiropractors and to learn more about a relatively new idea, at least in Minnesota – chiropractic care for animals.
“I love animals,” said Rettmann, who said when the idea of becoming a chiropractor focusing care on people and animals was shared the idea was new to her. “I had heard of it but had never seen it.”
Ultimately, Rettmann received her certification to perform chiropractic care for animals from Options for Animals which is in Wellsville, Kansas.
Whether it is a pet, show animal or part of a livestock operation, Rettmann offers services to a variety of animals and has done so locally since 2015 when she purchased Redwood Chiropractic PSC.
For Rettmann, the objective for animal care is the same as it is for her two-legged clients – making them feel better. The challenge comes in not being able to talk to her animal clients, so she uses other techniques in order to determine what issues the animal is facing.
One of the observations she makes is in the animals gait. If at all possible she will watch an animal as it walks, because anything from a limp or a head bob to a short stride can be an indication of what may be ailing them.
At times, she added, a flinch when she touches an animal is all the indication she needs that something is wrong. Unlike human clients, Rettmann also needs to listen to and observe the signs that what she is doing is actually helping. That, she said, might come in the form of a sigh, a breath or a change in posture.
In May 2008, the Minnesota legislature passed a law allowing specially-trained chiropractors to provide chiropractic services to animals in Minnesota. Prior to that, one had to be a veterinarian to provide those services. Still, according to state law, an animal must be referred by a veterinarian before it gets chiropractic care. Rettmann is one of a few who provide care for animals, adding most of those who provide the service live in the metro area.
That means she is often on the road, adding she has clients as far north as Alexandria and Sauk Center and all the way to the Iowa border. She also has a special exam room for animal patients.
Rettmann continues to work with animals outside of her career, as she lives on a hobby farm near Fairfax where she has horses and a few head of cattle.