Hydrotherapy involves the use of water to treat various conditions, such as arthritis and muscular injuries, or as part of a post-surgical rehabilitation or weight loss program. It can also be used by healthy dogs for fitness and conditioning.
Hydrotherapy can be completed in a pool or an underwater treadmill. At the Animal Wellness & Performance Clinic, we have invested in an underwater treadmill for dogs (and other small animals).
What is an Underwater Treadmill?
The Underwater Treadmill is a treadmill just like you’d find at the gym, but it is enclosed in a tank of water and specifically designed for dogs. The treadmill speed and resistance can be adjusted, along with the water temperature and depth. These variables allow for a progressive program, suitable for your individual dog.
How Does the Underwater Treadmill Work?
- Your dog will walk into the tank and the water will gradually start to rise to the appropriate level for their size and condition.
- The treadmill belt will then move and your dog will walk for a set period of time.
- The treadmill’s resistance and speed are controlled and adjusted for your dog’s individual presentation.
- Once your dog has finished their session, the water then drains out of the tank and your dog can easily walk down the ramp.
- The water is recycled through a pump similar to what a pool uses so that it is clean and ready for the next dog.
Benefits of Hydrotherapy
The benefits of hydrotherapy include improved:
- General conditioning and fitness
- Blood circulation
- Cardiovascular endurance
- Joint range of motion
- Stability and balance
- Muscle mass and strength
- Post-surgical recovery
- Injury recovery
Hydrotherapy programs are specifically designed for your dog’s fitness and/or medical condition.
Would My Dog Benefit From Hydrotherapy Sessions?
General Fitness and Conditioning:
The underwater treadmill is a great way to increase general fitness and conditioning. It suits dogs that love water but don’t have ready access, in winter if the waters too cold, or in summer if it’s too hot to exercise your dog outside. The underwater treadmill is also a great option if you aren’t able to regularly exercise your dog.
Sports tend to have movement biases with particular movement patterns occurring more frequently, leading to imbalances in the musculoskeletal system. An underwater treadmill is an excellent tool in maintaining balance within the musculoskeletal system, and when combined with other therapies can form part of a complete program.
The underwater treadmill is ideal for post-surgical patients, especially neurological or orthopedic surgeries. The underwater treadmill encourages normal gait patterns and re-establishes joint range of motion and muscular strength. It can offload body weight to make the initial stages of the rehabilitation process easier on your dog. As soon as the incision has healed and you’ve got the all-clear from your veterinary surgeon your dog could benefit from regular hydrotherapy sessions.
When your dog is recovering from an injury, progressive exercise will form an important part of the rehabilitation program.
Exercise forms an integral part of any weight loss program and this is no different for dogs. Combined with a calorie-controlled nutrition plan, the underwater treadmill is an excellent tool for any overweight dog that is struggling to exercise. It can help off-load the joints and makes exercising easier until such a time that your dog is able to exercise under their own body weight.
Older dogs can find it difficult to maintain their mobility as they age. They may find it difficult to walk, and their joints may be stiff or arthritic. Not only can the underwater treadmill off-load the joints, it can also help with mobility by increasing range of motion.
If you think that your dog could benefit from a hydrotherapy session get in contact.
All dogs have to undergo an initial consultation so that a suitable program can be developed.