Swimming is one of the most recognized sports in the whole world, both as competitors and as a recreational one, and with a number of people practicing it, the list of benefits just gets longer and longer. It can help both in basic medical conditions, such as muscle cramps and stiffness and in some more serious and more complicated ones by improving heart health, etc.
Same as humans, dogs can experience injuries or discomfort that needs to be treated in one way or another. There are few ways to cope with it, and two that are mentioned as most effective are canine massage and hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy is mostly done by putting a treadmill in the lukewarm water tank, and letting the dog walk on it, or even putting it in to swim.
Some dogs do not like being in the water, nor swimming at all, so owners that are having that kind of problems, need to consult a veterinarian. When talking about therapies, it is important to see, how effective hydrotherapy actually is, and how it should be performed?
What are the Benefits of Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy is used as a part of both rehabilitation dog program, and as a part of regular conditioning one, as it is important to prevent any injury or strain that might occur as well.
The way that hydrotherapy works is that it improves motion and joint circulation, and adds on muscle mass which is crucial for keeping bones in place, that way preventing more serious joint degenerations. There are more than few benefits connected with hydrotherapy, some of which are:
- One of the main benefits is reduced pain and faster healing of injuries that occurred
- Improved circulation and heart health
- Increased flexibility; muscle tone and strength
- Reduced stress and muscle spasms
- Healthy loss of weight
- Improved digestion; protected internals
- Increase role of hormones; increase blood flow through kidneys
It has been proven that a 5 minutes swim is basically equal to a 5 mile run, plus joints are less pressured, allowing for easier and freer movement. Along with that, it is important to notice that although there is huge array of benefits, there are some side effects that could occur as well:
- Ear infections; urinary infections
- Skin conditions
- Dogs that are stressed may experience higher blood pressure and heart rate
The most important thing is that you should never leave your dog without attention, no matter if he is a good or a bad swimmer, as you never know what might happen. Also, you must realize that taking your dog to a pond or a lake, is not going to work the same, and may even worsen the condition because the temperature is not that regulated and bacteria that are in there can cause various infections.
Having that in mind, your best choice is to take your dog to clinics and let a professional guide you through the therapy, so you might even do that at home if you have the necessary equipment.
What are the Types and how to Perform Hydrotherapy?
As of the types there are few activities that are included in hydrotherapy, mostly based on actual condition of the dog, and the therapy goal.
- The most common one might include a water treadmill – Basically, a treadmill is put in something that looks like a big fish tank, and your dog is performing moves that simulate walking or running for the next 15 minutes. This is mostly performed with dogs that are in need of rehabilitation or suffer from some type of dysplasia, but it is also performed with dogs that need simple conditioning. As of the water temperature, lukewarm water is usually the best, cold water is supposed to be good for those in need of conditioning, while warm water is best for recovery as it loosens up muscles.
- The other way is that dog is in a hydrotherapy pool, with the task of fetching, or catching the ball, as well as doing simple swimming laps. For this method, more precaution is taken such as a life jacket, and if it seems to a therapist that your dog is just too scared to enter the water, you should not insist, as that could lead to further complications.
Dogs are prone to certain bone degenerations such as osteoarthritis and arthritis. This can be and does not have to be related to their exercise routine, as along with injury, it could develop as a consequence of genetics or age as well.
Having this in consideration it is important to immediately react once your dog has been diagnosed any condition, like joint diseases or decreased motion, that could lead to more serious health problems. One of the best way of treating that, as well as conducting rehabilitation after surgery actually is a hydrotherapy, that apparently does magic.
Of course, know that unless you have previously consulted and made an agreement with veterinarian and therapist, you should perform this kind of therapy without the equipment and education that is needed, as that can only lead to further issues.
Remember, even if your dog is fully healthy, which is excellent, do not shy from performing this therapy once in a while, as it is good for his overall condition and fitness.