Hydrotherapy for dogs is a medical practice that uses water to relieve dogs of certain joint and bone pains and problems. Hydrotherapy or more specifically, canine hydrotherapy basically uses the main properties of the water namely buoyancy, viscosity, hydrostatic pressure and resistance.
Buoyancy is the ability or tendency of a body to stay afloat or rise to the top of a liquid or gas. Such properties of water enable dogs to flexibly move their joints. Water makes the dog’s body buoyant by actually supporting the weight of the body when submerged. Your dog, as a result, no longer needs to fight gravity. The buoyancy of the water minimizes the stress on the joints, creating a safe environment for recovery from joint injuries as such.
Hydrotherapy for dogs is particularly beneficial when recovering after surgery of the joints or bones. It benefits dogs that are suffering from degenerative joint disease or are perhaps, partially paralyzed. Water therapy further improves conditions like hip dysplasia, amputation of a limb or simply, arthritis due to old age.
Canine hydrotherapy is a prevalent practice for quite a few years now though it has recently become more popular. Hydrotherapy sessions must take place under the supervision of a professional hydro therapist because the depth and warmth of the water are important factors that need continuous monitoring.
How does hydrotherapy for dogs work?
Hydrotherapy for dogs can be performed using different types of equipment. They each serve a specific purpose. A veterinarian will typically advise on which type would be suitable for your dog depending on the dog’s injury, age, etc.
An underwater treadmill is the most common form of hydrotherapy for dogs. They are quite effective for dogs with joint problems. It is basically a treadmill that comes in a glass or plastic enclosed chamber. As you help your dog enter the chamber or tank, the doors are shut and the water fills up the tank with the level being just above the dog’s legs.
Now, the dog gradually begins to walk on the treadmill and faces the resistance that the water creates to strengthen his muscles in a low-impact environment. The speed of the treadmill is usually medium though it can vary depending upon the dog’s injuries and ability to walk fast.
As a result of this specific type of hydrotherapy for dogs, there is an improvement in blood circulation, an increase in joint flexibility and reduction in joint pain. Some of the additional benefits include cardiorespiratory endurance, agility and muscle strength.
Whirlpool hydrotherapy for dogs works in a similar way as the hot tubs for humans. As such, the dog whirlpools have water jets. These warm water jets effectively massage the injured muscles of the dog. The whirlpools further come with a hoist and a harness for the purpose of lowering and lifting the dogs in and out of the water.
This particular form of hydrotherapy for dogs is an excellent pain relieving technique for dogs that are still recovering after a surgery or so. The water jets create a deep effect on the joints and muscles, providing the needed relief to your dog.
Dog pools are yet another popular form of hydrotherapy for dogs, and can even be used at home. The dog pools are similar to the swimming pools for humans with the only difference being that they offer some kind of resistance. This is because the pools are meant to offer relief to the joint pain that your dog might be suffering from. The additional benefit of the dog pool is that apart from providing hydrotherapy for the dog, they help your dog enjoy swimming (think about summer days).
Swimming is a great exercise for dogs even without major joint or muscle problems as such. As your dog gets old, they have a tendency to develop arthritis. The dog pools can offer the best way of preventing structural problems from developing. However, make sure using a harness if your dog is scared of the waters or at least until they are totally comfortable swimming.
Is hydrotherapy for dogs safe?
Hydrotherapy for dogs is a safe and reliable process of helping dogs with joint and muscle pains. However, hydrotherapy takes place in specific centers under the supervision of professional therapists. So, while choosing one such center for your dog, make sure that it is accredited and recognized for conducting safe and effective canine hydrotherapy sessions.
You can enquire at the center about the licenses it holds for carrying out this therapy for dogs. Checking for some positive reviews from dog owners on the internet would be an ideal way of choosing the best center and ensuring that your furry one truly benefits from the hydrotherapy for dogs.
What are the benefits of hydrotherapy for dogs?
Hydrotherapy for dogs comes with multiple benefits for dogs with injuries and joint issues. The following are some of the most prominent benefits of this therapy for dogs.
Pain Relief – Hydrotherapy for dogs is a pain relief technique that uses the buoyancy of the water to relieve joint and muscle pains in a dog. The warm water has a soothing effect on the painful joints that also tend to get flexible with this therapy.
Reduces Inflammation – Hydrotherapy for dogs works like magic on sore joints and reduces inflammation of muscles. Therapies like the underwater treadmill encourage a movement of the joints and muscles without requiring your dog to undergo a lot of stress.
Muscle Relaxation – The buoyancy and the resistance of the water come together to create a force, which effectively relaxes the tired and sore muscles of your dog. That is why; hydrotherapy for dogs is a recommended practice after any orthopedic surgery.
Soften Muscles – When your dog has not walked for an injury for a long time, their muscles tend to get tight. Hydrotherapy for dogs induces movement of the muscles under water, which prevents them from getting tightened.
Increased Coordination – Hydrotherapy for dogs also improves coordination. Your dog learns to flexibly move the muscles and often, going the extra mile to encounter the resistance. These activities lead to better coordination of the hips and legs.
Swimming is Great for Dogs – Hydrotherapy, especially the dog pools, is very similar to normal swimming. And swimming, in general, is a great exercise for dogs, keeping them healthy, fit and active.
Better Circulation – Hydrotherapy for dogs works as effectively as a strenuous exercise. Because of this, there is an obvious increase in blood circulation, allowing your dog to not only enjoy healthier joints but also better skin coat and hair.
Improved Immune System – Because hydrotherapy for dogs not only works well on the muscles and joints but also leads to better blood circulation, it actually boosts the overall immunity of your dog.
Lymphs Drain in Hydrotherapy – If your dog is suffering from lymph, trust this hydrotherapy for dogs process because it will help in draining out the excess puss without hurting your dog or causing an infection.
Weight Loss – As an effective exercise, hydrotherapy for dogs helps in losing weight. It is often a better technique than a controlling diet for letting your dog shed a few extra kilos.
It’s a good workout – As a whole, hydrotherapy for dogs is a great exercise that surely promises your dog with a lot of health benefits; even after their injuries are healed.
What is dog hydrotherapy used for?
Canine hydrotherapy is the most effective when it is used for some specific causes. These health issues and problems are meant to be treated with canine water therapy and the result, therefore, is commendable. Let’s look into some of these specific use cases of hydrotherapy for dogs.
Dogs with hip dysplasia
Hydrotherapy is an ideal treatment for hip and elbow dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a chronic and degenerative condition in which your dog has developed the hip or elbow joints abnormally. Basically, the head of the dog’s femur bone fails to completely fit into the hip’s socket. When this condition affects your dog, their ligaments become weaker and the joints get misaligned and inflamed. As a result, walking seems to be extremely painful and difficult. There is also stiffness all over.
Hydrotherapy for dogs uses the controlled aquatic exercise to build the weakened muscle in the hind legs. The mobility and endurance of the joints of your dog increases and this happen without putting excessive pressure on your dog’s lower body. Gentle and regular swimming is the key to manage hip dysplasia and these water therapies are suitable for other degenerative joint conditions as well.
Injured dogs (post-surgery)
After a joint or muscle surgery, your dog is unable to naturally move their legs for quite some time. To regain normal movements and walk again, simple exercising is just not enough. Hydrotherapy for dogs uses the buoyancy of the water, thereby, creating an easier circumstance for your dog to start walking. While under the water, the dog can move his legs without stress. However, hydrotherapy for dogs might take 4-6 weeks to help your dog recover post-surgery completely.
Hydrotherapy is often as effective for weight loss as it is for reducing muscle and joint pains. If you are facing difficulty encouraging your fat and chubby dog to exercise on land, hydrotherapy for dogs is the solution to choose.
Dogs with arthritis
Arthritis makes the conditions of the joints of your dog as worse as that of hip dysplasia. The pain and the difficulty of movement are also no less. With Hydrotherapy for dogs, the muscles and joints of your dog become much more flexible with a visible reduction in pain too.
The older dogs not only tend to develop muscle and joint problems but also find movement difficult, even under normal circumstances. Hydrotherapy for dogs can help in this regard by providing a means of exercising that requires less effort from your dog. Your dog, as a result, can move comfortably while there is a prevention of the muscles from getting tight because of a lack of movement.
How much does hydrotherapy for dogs cost?
Hydrotherapy for dogs is pricy compared to other post-surgery treatments. Among the different types of hydrotherapies, the underwater treadmill is the most expensive one. As an average, if a 30-minute pool-based therapy would cost about $30 then the same length of underwater treadmill treatment would cost no less than $50.
The cost of this therapy depends on several factors. This includes the type of hydrotherapy for dogs, the length of the therapy sessions, the health condition of the dog that is requiring the treatment, geographic location and also, the center you choose.
However, the good news is that with the popularity of hydrotherapy, several insurance companies are covering the treatment expenses, for a specific amount of sessions, if not the entire treatment. So, you should check with the insurance provider prior to starting hydrotherapy for dogs.
Hydrotherapy for dogs, though a bit expensive is beneficial for your dog. That is why; it is better not to look for cheaper options and instead, go with the most reputed centers and treatment procedures.
How often should hydrotherapy for dogs be conducted?
Hydrotherapy for dogs is divided into sessions. The number of sessions required, or for how long the therapy should continue, will exclusively depend on the condition the dogs tend to be suffering from.
When hydrotherapy is prescribed for senior dogs developing arthritis, the vet will recommend hydrotherapy to continue forever. On the other hand, if it is for dogs with injuries, then a few sessions for over a couple of weeks would be enough for the dog will start walking properly again. Hydrotherapy sessions would typically be longer and more frequent if the purpose is to initiate weight loss in the dog.
The effectiveness of hydrotherapy for dogs along with the individual dog’s acceptance of the treatment will further determine the duration of the treatment, which can vary widely.
Is hydrotherapy recommended for every dog?
Hydrotherapy for dogs might not be suitable for all dogs. As a result, not all dogs will benefit equally from the treatment. Such dogs might be having certain health conditions that will stop them from deriving the benefits of this water therapy. For instance, dogs with ear infections and skin conditions should stay away from hydrotherapy.
Some dogs, on the other hand, are scared of water. Forcing the animal to partake in hydrotherapy for dogs will leave them traumatized, which will worsen their health instead of improving it in any possible way. It is always advisable to consult the vet and conduct a proper health examination to find out if hydrotherapy for dogs is, at all, suitable and beneficial for your furry one.
Can hydrotherapy for dogs cure illnesses?
Hydrotherapy for dogs cannot cure illnesses as such. It is typically meant to reduce the pain from injuries and help strengthen the muscle and joints of the dog that is recovering from surgery. The treatment can, however, alleviate the symptoms of certain illnesses but cannot cure any of them completely. In fact, dogs with cardiovascular issues, hydrophobia and infected wounds should not take part in hydrotherapy.
So, now that you are aware of everything about hydrotherapy for dogs, you can create a suitable treatment environment for your dog to recover from his/her joint injuries fast. Make sure following the advice of the vet and the therapist and checking for your dog’s reaction/aversion to the process before continuing with it for good.