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Benefits of hydrotherapy for dogs

Hydrotherapy is a form of a low impact, non-weight bearing exercise that aids in the rehabilitation of weak, sore and painful joints.

This type of aqua (water) therapy or ‘controlled swimming’ is an excellent form of exercise that allows the ‘working out’ and strengthening of the muscles normally used in movement. It also avoids the ‘jarring’ effect caused by running on hard ground, which can damage or weaken the limb, particularly an arthritic joint or one recovering from an injury or surgery.

Hydrotherapy requires warm water with a temperature between 26-30 degrees C. It is very useful for dogs that are lame or sore, aiding in weight loss and general fitness, and helping to reduce pain and inflammation.

It can also be used for chronic conditions such as arthritis, lameness, post–operative recovery, hip, joint and soft tissue problems, cruciate ligament damage, spinal injuries, muscle weakness, sciatica and rehabilitation after injury and sickness.

Swimming your dog in an indoor heated dog pool facility is an excellent way for dogs to recover from surgery, to strengthen and condition, to improve general fitness, muscle tone and stamina, to lose weight and learn how to swim!

Hydrotherapy is also a great conditioning tool for working, show or sporting dogs, as it builds their muscles, conditions them, and expends their energy while they are having fun. For dogs that are not getting enough exercise, this burns more energy than any other form of a workout. In fact, a five-minute swim is equivalent to a 5k walk!

Having a spinal injury can cause impairment of motor function, and hydrotherapy can provide support and allows the dog to exercise its muscles while nerve regeneration is taking place.

case study Peanut

Peanut the Chihuahua had great success with hydrotherapy

K9 Swim Hydrotherapy and Wellness Centre’s patient Peanut, a six-year-old Chihuahua, started hydrotherapy due to a gradual but consistent worsening of the luxating patella (popping out of the kneecap) in her rear left leg, with her veterinarian saying it was only a matter of time before she tore a ligament.

Peanut had surgery for her luxating patella in addition to receiving regular Cartrophen injections post-surgery and taking CBD oil. Prior to the surgery, she completed a six-week prehab (preventative rehabilitation) hydrotherapy treatment in conjunction with an additional five-to-six weeks of one-on-one sessions in the pool.

To everyone’s surprise, Peanut was ready to return to the pool just two weeks after her surgery and completed an additional six weeks of post-surgery rehab. She was then booked in for a further four weeks of treadmill sessions plus four weeks of one-on-one sessions in the pool.

Peanut had an amazing outcome from her hydrotherapy treatment. Her vet had approximated a time frame of roughly a six-month recovery period and wasn’t expecting her to be able to return to the pool for at least four-to-six weeks post-surgery. Peanut made a full recovery from her surgery in less than three months!

The benefits of canine hydrotherapy

  • Speedy recovery after surgery
  • Overweight dogs can gain fitness and lose weight
  • Arthritic and senior dogs
  • Condition training
  • Swim lessons and fun!
  • Allows exercise for pets with disabilities
  • Great bonding activity with your canine
  • Pre and post operative conditioning after orthopaedic surgery
  • Improves quality of life
  • Reduces inflammation of injured joints, fractures and soft tissue injuries
  • Increased circulation, endurance, flexibility, range of motion, and balance
  • Decreased swelling in joints
  • Increased co-ordination
  • Muscle development
  • Cardio-vascular improvement and conditioning
  • Increased confidence
  • Increased energy level in aging dogs
  • Excellent for mental stimulation and general convalescence
  • Makes joints more supple
  • Improves stamina and strengthens muscles
  • Can aid in pain relief of DJD (Degenerative Joint Disease)
  • Builds general fitness helping with injury prevention
  • Exercises all muscles allowing to rebuild or maintain cardiovascular fitness.

husky swimming

Canine conditions helped by hydrotherapy

  • Knee surgeries
  • Anterior cruciate ligament surgery
  • Full hip replacement
  • Femoral Head and Neck Excision
  • Intervertebral Disk Disease
  • Amputation of a limb
  • Hip and Elbow dysplasia in young and old dogs
  • Luxating Patella
  • Fractures
  • Degenerative joint disease
  • Weakened spine
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Spondylosis
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Neurological disorders
  • Early signs of cognitive dysfunction
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)
  • Soft Tissue Injuries

How to start hydrotherapy

A veterinary referral form should be filled out by your Vet and given to your Hydro therapist before treatment commences. This will assist the Hydro therapist in your dog’s rehabilitation process.

Water can be very calming for dogs and can reduce levels of stress in addition to assisting with improving many bodily functions.

Dogs also do not have to have a medical condition to swim – they can do it for fun, for instance chasing a ball in the water or retrieving a Frisbee!


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