“Dogs are people too” is a sentiment that many dog lovers steadfastly believe, and like their two-legged owners, these shaggy-haired “people” need to maintain optimal health to ensure the longevity of their lives. One particular treatment that can help sustain happy and healthy pooches is canine hydrotherapy, which is defined by Hip Dog Canine Hydrotherapy and Fitness of Central Florida as the “external use of water in the medical treatment of certain diseases.”
In other words, your doggy can swim in a pool to help with such ailments like joint pain, or if he/she needs to shed a few pounds. Your pet can also swim just to have some good old-fashioned fun. As explained by Dr. Arleigh Reynolds, a Veterinary Surgeon and Canine Physiologist, if a dog swims for one minute, it equates to four minutes of running.
For your pet’s first visit to a hydrotherapy clinic, veterinary consent must be obtained. Once approved, a staff member gives each dog a health examination and charts his or her weight and muscle mass in order to monitor progress. Then the dogs are outfitted with a buoyancy tool or a harness before they jump into therapy pool. The safety and happiness of your pet is paramount, so canine hydrotherapy pools should be filtered and heated. The Hip Dog sterilizes and tests its water daily and also keeps its pools at “a constant 88-degree temperature – warm enough to be therapeutic, cool enough to guard against overheating.”
Your pet will benefit from hydrotherapy if he or she currently experiences any of these particular maladies:
- hip or elbow dysplasia
- chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy
- degenerative myelopathy
- cruciate ligament injuries
Each canine receives a therapy session that is catered to that dog’s specific needs. During their time with their assigned therapists, the dogs engage in exercise that is initiated through praising and playing. Swimming is a non-weight bearing exercise that is an excellent way for dogs to build up muscles around weak joints without putting too much stress on their bodies. During the swimming treatments, pet-parents have the option of watching their pups from the side of the pool – just be on the lookout for frequent splashing.
Canine hydrotherapy is also beneficial for growing puppies too. Some land-based exercises may cause problems early on, and your puppy is never too young to learn vital swimming skills for life. If you care to join in the fun with your baby pup, some clinics may permit you to come into the pool.
Geriatric pets are also encouraged to engage in water-based exercises to increase their mobility so that they can safely continue to participate in land-based exercises. Dogs of a certain age are treated to full-body massages that usually consist of two techniques: effleurage, which is a form of massage involving a circular stroking movement made with the palm of the hand, and petrissage, which is a massage technique that involves kneading the body. Older dogs are gently instructed to swim shorter laps. Between each set, they do mild stretching exercises and are given extra massages to improve their joint flexibility and muscle strength.
Some of the other benefits of hydrotherapy include:
- increased circulation, which is ideal for your dog’s skin and coat
- increased lymph drainage
- removal of toxins
- improved immune system
- healthier digestion
- stimulation of balance and coordination
After the completion of their swim sets, pups are shampooed and dried so that they can go home feeling warmhearted and relaxed.
Most dogs, with the approval of their veterinarian, can try canine hydrotherapy regardless of their age. The prices for canine aquatic treatments are relatively inexpensive. For example, at Hip Dog Canine Hydrotherapy and Fitness, prices range from $40 to $65, but you should shop around for the best price to fit your budget. Treatment sets tend to last for 45 minutes but can be adjusted depending on the current health of your pet. To see if there is a canine hydrotherapy center in your area, check out the website for the Association of Canine Water Therapy.
If swimming is an activity that provides great benefits for humans, then without a doubt it is also wonderful for your pets. Consider letting your dog swim for a cause – his or her own health!
So what are your thoughts on canine water training? Would you let your pet try it out? Would you try it with your dog? Share your thoughts and comments below.