Hydrotherapy for Animals
Guest Article contributed by Sheila M.
Swimming is the perfect activity for all dogs young or old. It provides a non-weight-bearing activity, which avoids all the stresses and strains of exercising on hard ground. It can help your pet recover more quickly from injuries or surgery and helps alleviate many common conditions in dogs. To maximise all the benefits of hydrotherapy we encourage natural free swimming and encourage the dog to enjoy the experience.
Many of the dogs we see have had joint surgery, such as cruciate ligament repairs, elbow surgery and even total hip replacements. Swimming helps to rebuild muscle tone that is quickly lost when the dog is not fully fit and weight-bearing.
We see lots of young dogs who have been diagnosed with hip and elbow dysplasia who need to build muscle and strength on their legs to help them cope better with these conditions.
Arthritis is extremely common in dogs like humans and swimming in warm water can be soothing and allow dogs to exercise the affected joints, keep or rebuild muscle tone and generally keep them mobile for longer. Such dogs will do even better if their weight is kept to a minimum.
Breeds such as Retrievers, Spaniels, Newfoundlands and Shepherds are natural swimmers and usually take well to swimming in the pool after a few sessions. Other breeds may not be so keen but all dogs, even those new to swimming, eventually relax in the water once they have become accustomed to the experience. Our trained staff (all dog ‘owners’ ourselves) do all they can to make the experience as positive as possible.
Some ‘owners’ like to introduce their puppies to water early on so they are sure that their dog becomes confident in water and learns to enjoy swimming in a safe, warm and controlled environment.
Most vets recognise the potential of hydrotherapy and most pet insurance companies now cover the cost of the treatment, when the dog has been referred by your vet. Talk with your vet about the benefits of hydrotherapy and, if your dog could benefit, we look forward to seeing you.
Footnote: At the AVMC, we refer for Hydrotherapy where appropriate and integrate it with our other treatments. We do not, however, recommend hydrotherapy for dogs suffering from CDRM.