Has your dog been moving slower lately? Seems to be more stiff? Maybe they are getting older and have a bit of arthritis, or maybe they have had an injury and are recovering. One option to help speed up the recovery process is hydrotherapy. I know you are wondering how this works. This therapy can be used in dogs, horses, and other animals. This is typically a heated pool that slants and increases in depth to allow the animals access and reach a point where they are swimming in some cases.
In the case of dogs they are fitted with a nice life vest to help them float and then you give them some motivation to swim by throwing a toy back and forth in the pool. The animals are always attended by a nurse or doctor and never left in the pool on their own. A treadmill system can also be used rather than a deeper pool.
With horses you have something that is slightly larger scale to fit their larger size. It is more of a channel for them to swim though, or a circle with a platform in the center for the attending nurse or doctor to stand. There is also the option of a treadmill in a box that can fill with water.
So how does hydrotherapy help and make a difference you ask? This therapy is a good option for animals who are suffering from lameness, arthritis, other chronic conditions, or for fitness. Just like with us when we are in the water our body weight is less than normal. The water provides a low impact way to exercise. With arthritis or other conditions it can be painful to move around and most animals will choose to move as little as possible. When in the water it takes a lot of the weight off of the joints and allows them to move more freely and less painfully therefore helping them to rehabilitate joints that they avoid using normally. This is becoming more used in the veterinary world today to help animals get back range of motion and mobility. This is an easy way to help animals and they usually enjoy their time spent in the water.
For those animals that don’t have a chronic condition, hydrotherapy can be a really useful way to provide a low impact cardio workout and get your pet in shape. This can be used in animals that may have a minor injury and they can keep up their workouts while still healing and get back to their normal routine after they heal. Hydrotherapy is a fun way to exercise or to mix up your routine . Most animals enjoy the water and find the change interesting. And some animals take to the water like fish and never want to come out.
So the next time you see your dog acting a bit stiff or moving slower than their normal, consider taking them for a swim or to your nearest hydrotherapy center. You might find that your dog or horse loves swimming!