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Hydrotherapy for dogs

An important component in the rehabilitation for ones dog is aquatic therapy, which provides the buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, viscosity and resistance as well as the surface tension. How water effects the body is easy to understand through all the basic principles of water and its properties. The upward thrusting of water upon the body is the buoyancy which decreases the weight of the body when immersed in it. This decreases the amount of pain in the dog, by minimizing the amount of weight that is placed on the muscles and painful joints, all aiding in the rehabilitation.

The percentage of body weight on land in these following positions, is the basis of a study done on dogs and the amount of body weight they carried when immersed in water:

  • Having water at the level of the ateral malleolus of the tibia it was 91%
  • 85% when water was at the level of the lateral condyle of the femur
  • 38% when water was at the level of the greater trochanter of the femur

For dogs with arthritis, this is most beneficial in treating them because the buoyancy factors of water unload the joints.

Hydrostatic pressure provides an optimum working environment for edematous tissues and sore swollen joints. The tendency of blood and edema to gather in the lower extremities is opposed from the constant pressure to the body or limbs, thus aiding in reducing the swelling.

Hydrostatic pressure lessens the pain during exercise. The theory behind this is that the pressure creates phasic stimuli to the sensory receptors of the skin, causing a decrease in the nociceptor hypersensitivity. By reducing the dogs pain perception, it allows them to perform more movements with less pain.

Fluid flow resistance or viscosity is greater in water than in air. Canine muscles and cardiovascular fitness is increased and strengthened from the resistance that water provides. Sensory awareness is increased from viscosity and unstable joints are supported and stabilized. A paraparesis canine that is supported from the buoyancy and viscosity of water, may choose to walk in water although they won’t on land.

Movement and exercise are performed with more ease with surface tension, just beneath the water surface than at or on the surface, if a dog is extremely weak.

One of the best things for increasing muscle strength and endurance is canine hydrotherapy. This also improves cardiorespiratory endurance, range of motion and agility in the dog. All of these benefits including enhancing the dog’s psychological well-being while lessening their pain.

A dog’s heart rate and oxygen uptake is totally increased from water when hydrotherapy for dogs is implemented. The dog’s heart rate is increased further through the leg movements and the temperature of the water. Although exercise on land is beneficial, exercise in water out performed the land ones in both heart rate and oxygen uptake. To ensure proper weight management, nothing compares to the aerobic exercise in toning in the whole canine rehabilitation process.

The best functional improvement and minimization of joint effusion is obtained from dog therapy in water. Exercise on land is more effective for achieving maximum muscle performance. Walking in water has the dog’s muscles working in a more functional way. Participating in these canine hydrotherapy exercises where forces are decreased, minimizes and eliminates potential damage and inflammation to the soft tissues.

To help reduce joint effusion and associated knee pain, dog pools and dog underwater treadmills are highly effective. With a canine that has had knee operations, such as cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) stabilization surgery, this effectively aids in the recovery of lower-extremity functioning. If a dog has surgery or is in post injury rehabilitation, canine rehabilitation through aquatic exercises can be useful as a transition to land based exercises.

One of the key attributes of aquatic therapy for dogs is the heated water which contributes to many physiological effects. Not only do dogs become more functional on a daily level, they have an increase in the circulation to their muscles. Most water temperatures range between 26 degrees C and 28 degrees C. Dogs with heavier coats can tolerate cooler temperatures than this.

Hydrotherapy for dogs includes everything from dog pools, underwater treadmills, to whirlpools. Aquatic therapy can also be achieved through taking a dog to a lake or river, although caution must be exercised. Underwater currents pose hazardous and if there is a recent incision, bacteria could present a problem. The water temperature will not provide the same benefits a a pool or underwater treadmill. Dogs can wear a life preserver for safety.

The following dog health issues have been helped with hydrotherapy:

  • Knee Surgeries
  • TPLO or ACL operations
  • Hip replacements
  • Compromised Hip Structure
  • Joint inflammation
  • Broken bones or compromised Spine
  • Deteriorating joints
  • Nerve Disorders
  • Cognitive Dysfunction
  • Loss of a limb

In addition to all of the conditions hydrotherapy for dogs assists, it also increases the dog’s balance, co-ordination, confidence and energy level. The benefits are enormous when considering hydrotherapy for dogs. The recovery time post surgery is significantly reduced. Aquatic therapy restores the physical condition of a dog with minimal discomfort.

Water therapy is very calming for dogs. It helps reduce levels of stress and assists with stimulating metabolic functions. The dogs immune system is enhanced and the lymphatic system is drained much more effectively. Hydrotherapy for dogs helps rid their bodies of toxins and regulates the electrolytes in their system. Their digestion is improved as is their skin and coat.

Veterinarians all over the world are utilizing and noticing the huge benefits of canine hydrotherapy. The number one treatment of choice is Dog Hydrotherapy. The massive amount of benefits make it undeniable.

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