Did you know? The first hydrotherapy equipment was made for horses! Today, it’s widely used by both humans and canines as a form of physical therapy. Hydrotherapy has demonstrated itself to be an effective treatment and a natural pain relief for dogs transitioning into their senior years or for those struggling with joint issues.
What is canine hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy, as suggested by its name, is a form of dog physical therapy that takes place in the water. The clever use of the properties of water during each treatment eases the stress on your dog’s joints significantly, providing a natural joint pain relief for dogs.
There are many types of hydrotherapy treatments available, the most common one involving the use of a hydro treadmill for dogs. This underwater dog treadmill encourages and simulates a dog’s natural gait mannerisms in water, which essentially makes exercise weightless. This is particularly effective for dogs recovering from an injury or surgery. Other forms of hydrotherapy include therapeutic pools, whirlpool therapy, and more.
The beauty of hydrotherapy is that it’s adaptable to many different types of health conditions. For one, it helps dogs who’re recovering from surgery, injuries, or those who have been paralyzed. Overweight dogs also stand to gain from the water workouts that don’t put further strain on their joints. Dogs entering their geriatric years may also start experiencing aching joints from arthritis, loss in agility and difficult walking - which can be frightening for them! Hydrotherapy jumps in to provide a safe space for them to improve muscle strength and regain confidence simultaneously.
Benefits of hydrotherapy for dogs
Due to the nature of the treatment, the benefits of hydrotherapy for dogs is widely applicable to many dogs. Below are just some of the benefits:
- Excellent for post-op recovery, water therapy enables dogs to regain muscle strength and stamina in a virtually weight-free environment. The warm water also helps to reduce swelling.
- Great for dogs looking to shed a couple of kilograms, this form of low-impact workout promotes weight-loss while being gentle on their joints.
- Promotes blood circulation and tissue healing which helps to soothe skin conditions
- Improves overall balance, coordination and increases energy levels
- Stimulates metabolic functions and hormones which aids digestion health
- Superb as a dog arthritis treatment
All of these are possible because your dog’s system is relaxed and stimulated concurrently when they’re immersed in water. In the absence of stress and pain, the body is able to heal, strengthen, and boost its immune system.
Water wary dogs
If your dog is not big on water activities, the start of hydrotherapy sessions can be a little tough. That said, a little coaxing and familiarising with the pet pool will help your dog get used to the water. Strap them up in a Ruffwear Float Coat and bring along their favourite KONG toy for some playtime after their therapy sessions - your dog will learn to connect positivity with these sessions and eventually start enjoying them. Note to never leave them unattended in the water, and to ensure that they’re not completely submerged! Remember to also reward them with functional NRG+ doggie treats after each session!
Not for all
As much as hydrotherapy has proven its effectiveness in helping many dogs recover, it’s also good to note that it isn’t for every dog. For instance, land-based physiotherapy is better suited for dogs who have a traumatic history with water or an intense fear of water. Pets with certain conditions such as cardiovascular issues, infected wounds are recommended to avoid water therapy as well - it’s best to check with your vet or a certified practitioner before going ahead with the treatment!
Besides seeking treatment, your dog will benefit greatly from day-to-day care. Whether it’s adding a nutritious Barkery bone broth into his meals, or boosting his joint health with natural dog supplements from Augustine Approved, the little things add up and will benefit your dog in the long term. Check out this article for more tips joint care for dogs!