Swimming has physical and therapeutic benefits for humans. Well, not many are aware, but one can harness its benefits for dogs as well.
Dog hydrotherapy is one of the most popular ways of keeping your pet healthy and active. While dog owners are getting familiar with this concept, it is still a hidden gem. Today, veterinary hospitals and physical therapy clinics use hydrotherapy as part of their treatment plans. They prefer it to improve mobility in dogs suffering from musculoskeletal ailments.
Deciding to give your dog hydrotherapy treatments is a big step. After all, it might develop a phobia of bathtubs and showers. However, you can help your dog with various behavioural and medical conditions with proper hydrotherapy training and education.
Let’s get to know about hydrotherapy in detail.
What is Hydrotherapy?
Hydro means water and therapy means to heal. So hydrotherapy is healing using water.
For pets, the most common use for hydrotherapy is rehabilitation after injury or surgery, such as hip replacements, cruciate repairs (knee operations), and muscle tears in the forelimbs and hind limbs. Vets may also recommend hydrotherapy when pets are overweight or have debilitating conditions, such as arthritis.
It is a non-weight bearing exercise that reduces stress on joints, provides controlled resistance, which helps build strength, and increases joint range of motion. The properties of water also help with massage effects without any vigorous manipulation.
Benefits of Hydrotherapy for Dogs
Hydrotherapy is beneficial for treating common canine complaints, such as:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Relief of pain, swelling, and stiffness
- Muscle strengthening
- Cruciate ligament and meniscal injuries
- Alleviation of muscle spasms
- Increased range of motion
- Promote blood circulation
- Post-operative rehabilitation, e.g. after hip replacement surgery (THR) or TTA (Tibial Tuberosity Advancement)
- Tissue healing
- Paralysis due to Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
- Cardiovascular fitness
- Gait modification
- Faster recovery from injuries
Types of Hydrotherapy for Dogs
1. Underwater Treadmill
Underwater treadmill hydrotherapy is aquatic therapy. It is the most effective type of hydrotherapy used for dogs that are recovering from surgery or need to build up strength, muscle mass, coordination, or endurance.
In this type of hydrotherapy, your dog walks on the underwater treadmill with the help of a trained professional to ensure safety.
2. Swimming Pool
It is the most common form of hydrotherapy and a great form of exercise for dogs. It is low impact, and hence, doesn’t put stress on the joints and can even help with weight loss.
The water buoyancy reduces joint pain and allows the dog to exercise without putting too much weight on their joints. It is a form of rehabilitation after injury or surgery.
The dogs will swim in the water while wearing a special harness connected to an overhead trolley. The trolley allows your dog to exercise by swimming while preventing it from sinking or becoming fatigued before the treatment period is over.
Whirlpool hydrotherapy takes place in a tank filled with water. The dog walks or swims against a current created by jets in the pool. The current provides resistance to increase muscle strength and endurance, and it also aids in decreasing inflammation and pain.
This type of hydrotherapy is helpful for dogs with muscle atrophy because it helps maintain muscle tone. It also stimulates blood flow to muscles and joints, which aids in healing.
Hydrotherapy is not just another pet health craze. Its therapeutic benefits can improve your dog’s health.
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