Hydrotherapy for dogs has become increasingly popular over recent years.  Humans have known for millennia the healing properties of water for injuries and aching joints.  It has become more well known for animals initially by way of the horse racing industry, revealing the conditioning and healing benefits of allowing horses to walk in the water, the practice was soon adopted by the greyhound racing industry.  The invention of underwater treadmills for dogs soon followed, and after that, the practice quickly branched out to dogs in general.

For dogs, hydrotherapy usually consists of either swimming or walking in water, whether in shallow water along the beach or on an underwater treadmill.  Canine hydrotherapy can help treat a wide range of injuries and health conditions.

Water therapy can also be beneficial in treating:

  • Neurological problems, involving non-ambulatory dogs
  • CCL injuries (cruciate injuries)
  • Other orthopedic injuries or conditions
  • Post-surgical healing and recovery
  • Weight loss
  • Metabolic conditions like Cushing’s and diabetes that can cause muscles to atrophy

The type of hydrotherapy prescribed depends on the condition being treated, as well as on the condition of the dog.  The underwater treadmill offers better control of the exercise program and allows modifications to be made where necessary.  This can include depth and speed to be adjusted quickly to suit the needs of the pet, and the exercise tailored more specifically to the condition.

Hydrotherapy is a great tool, but it is one tool in a large tool kit. It can facilitate the building of muscle mass, promote cardiovascular output and improve stamina.  It cannot however target individual muscles or reduce inflammation or pain.  The best plan should include a combination of modalities, such as physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, and a structured exercise program.

If you would like more information or to book your dog in for a physiotherapy assessment to determine if hydrotherapy is appropriate, please call the clinic on 9092 0400 or email lauren@map.physio.

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