Hydrotherapy is one of the most popular treatment options among Canine Rehabilitation professionals. And for good reason! So, let’s dive right in and talk about why water is so great when it comes to treating our pets.
What is Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy is defined as the use of water for pain relief and treatment. Stemming from Greek medicine where it was called the Water Cure. It uses the properties of water; buoyancy, resistance and hydrostatic pressure to allow a pet to move joints and limbs. Allowing pets to move and exercise their aching, painful joints with ease. Perfect for people and pets who may be physically recovering from an injury, surgery or degenerative disease. Water therapy is an integral part of the healing process for many pets.
How Hydrotherapy Helps Your Pet
Let’s break down how the water helps your pet. The warm water soothes muscles and reduces inflammation. While the buoyancy supports a pet’s body weight and decreases stress on joints and limbs allowing the pet to move. There are two common forms of Hydrotherapy, swimming in a Hydrotherapy pool and underwater treadmills.
Underwater treadmills can be stand alone or incorporated into a pool. Both types come with their own set of benefits.
Underwater treadmill use can improve joint flexibility, muscle endurance and strength, increase circulation, and decrease joint pain. It also makes for a great way for a therapist to work on gait patterning in those pets suffering from neurological disorders. The underwater treadmill is most commonly used for pet’s recovering from knee, hip and back surgeries.
Benefits of Swimming
Not only is swimming relaxing for your pet, it’s beneficial as well. Not all pets like water, but by working with a professional, your pet is introduced to water in a way that doesn’t seem so scary. By using toys, treats and life vests along with a personal swim buddy to help a professional helps your pet acclimate to the water safely.
Your rehab professional or Veterinarian may prescribe swimming for a number of reasons. It improves balance, increase strength and range of motion. At the same time, improves your pets coordination and cardiovascular endurance. Your pet may also see an increase in energy and decrease their weight or pain.
Is Hydrotherapy Right for My Pet?
So how do you know if your pet is a candidate for Hydrotherapy? Your Veterinarian or Rehabilitation professional will be able to offer guidance in this area and make sure your pet is healthy to swim. Your pet care professional will create a custom treatment plan for your pet and water therapy may be only one piece of your pet’s healing process.
Most commonly pets with the following conditions may benefit from Hydrotherapy:
- Older pets with weakness
- Pets suffering from arthritis
- Overweight Pets
- After knee/hip or back surgeries
- Neurological disorders
- Hip Dysplasia
Hydrotherapy is a powerful tool when it comes to pet’s getting better. A dog that cannot stand might be able to swim and gain strength to get back on all four paws. This is why it’s always best to seek out a professional for Hydrotherapy. It’s possible for your pet to swim their way back to health.
Renee Mills, VT, CCRP
Renee Mills is a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner and Veterinary product specialist.