Hydrotherapy is a form of physical activity that uses water resistance to increase fitness and / or rehabilitate injuries and relieve pain.
How does it work?
Hydrotherapy uses water to also rehabilitate injuries your dog might have and to also relieve pain. It’s especially beneficial for dogs who have injuries such as a torn ACL, hip dysplasia, degenerative joint disease, arthritis, or dogs who have been paralyzed or lost a limb.
Hydrotherapy takes advantage of the buoyancy, resistance, viscosity, and hydrostatic pressure of water to provide an extremely low impact workout for a dog. This type of therapy works because, essentially, you provide weightless activity and remove the added pressure of gravity.
The buoyancy of the water reduces the tension on your dogs body which means it’s a very low risk of exercise conditioning and also perfect for recovery and rehabilitating injuries. It is also a natural form of anti-inflammatory therapy due to its ability to reduce swelling in body tissues.
Types Of Hydrotherapy For Dogs
There are four primary types of hydrotherapy for dogs, all using different types of equipment and serving specific purposes. Consult with your dog’s vet to see which best suits your pup’s rehabilitation needs.
This type of hydrotherapy is the most common form for dogs and is best suited for those with joint issues and arthritis. It relies on a treadmill encased in a glass or plastic chamber. Once the dog enters the chamber, the door is shut, and water fills the chamber to the level just above the dog’s legs.
As the treadmill starts to move slowly, your dog will begin to move. The water provides resistance enough to strengthen their joint muscles but takes away the stress of gravity, which makes this a low-impact exercise.
This type of therapy is used for dogs who are recovering from major surgeries and is great for pain relief. Think of this method as a Jacuzzi, but for dogs.
A dog would be put on a harness and lowered slowly into the pool. The water level depends on where the injury is located on your pup.
Once the dog enters the water, the warm jet stream inside the whirlpool effectively massages your dog’s injured muscles. The water jets create a deep effect on the injured joints, which gives the needed relief to your pooch.
This type of hydrotherapy provides resistance enough to help the range of motion for a dog who might suffer from arthritis or degenerative joint issues. It mainly targets certain parts of the dog’s body, such as their elbows, chest muscles, limbs, and shoulders.
The size and depth of the pool will largely depend on the therapist or vet and what type of joint issues your dog needs to work on. Most of the time, your dog will wear a floater or might be on a harness if they are not too fond of water.
They would also have the assistance of a therapist by their side at all times to monitor their movements in the water.
And finally general swimming also counts as a form of hydrotherapy. It is advised that it’s performed with dogs who can already swim (many are natural swimmers if introduced from young) Also ensure you select swimming zones that are clear of disease, pollution and free of any lurking dangerous animals / predators.
What Are The main Benefits Of Hydrotherapy?
Besides the benefits of relieving pain and rehabilitating joints, there are other added benefits of hydrotherapy for dogs, including:
- Relief of pain, swelling, and stiffness
- Muscle strengthening
- Alleviation of muscle spasms
- Increased range of motion
- Promote blood circulation
- Tissue healing
- Cardiovascular fitness
- Gait modification
- Faster recovery from injuries
Hydrotherapy is safe, beneficial, and reliable. It’s important you perform it by professionals who have experience and training in handling dogs for swimming. If your dog is injured, it is recommended you seek the help of a hydrotherapy specialist and not perform it alone.
The cost of hydrotherapy varies depending on your dogs current status such as their age, breed, injury etc. On average, sessions cost of between $40-$60 per 30 minute session.
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Keep Them FIT!