What is dog hydrotherapy?
Dog hydrotherapy defined. Hydro = water. Therapy = treatment of a problem. Then add in your dog. Basically, it’s using the benefits of water to treat a problem. While there are lots of variations, it’s basically one of three things;
Whirlpool – Your dog gets in a whirlpool with warm water and soothing jets. The water needs to be deep enough to cover the problem area. Helps decrease pain and soreness from achy joints and muscles. A whirlpool can also help with skin or wound healing.
Underwater treadmill – Generally a specialized treadmill inside a water tank. Your dog gets in, the tank gate is closed and the tank is filled with water to above the level of the legs. The water can be warm for those with sore muscles and joints or cooler for dogs that are strenuously working out to stay fit.
Swimming pools (lakes, etc.) – Your dog gets in and swims around. Great exercise but less of a controlled environment. Weather can play a big part in whether your dog gets therapy or not. Also usually less expensive.
How does your dog benefit from hydrotherapy?
Water is thicker than air, so it provides more resistance to working muscles than traditional exercising. Even better, since dogs become buoyant in water, it supports them so that problematic joints and legs don’t have to bear much if any weight while working. This makes hydrotherapy ideal for
– young dogs so they can strengthen muscles without overworking growing bones and joints.
– dogs who are recovering from injuries or surgery to strengthen muscles without stressing the problem areas.
– arthritic dogs, allowing them to loosen up stiff joints and maintain muscle mass without causing more pain.
Where can you find hydrotherapy treatment?
Swimming pools and lakes can be the easiest to find, especially in warmer weather. You’ll want to be sure the site is safe for your dog, free of harmful organisms and other potential hazards. You can even buy an above ground pool that’s big enough for most dogs to exercise in for $30 or so on Amazon.
Many areas have dog swimming pools. Dog rehabilitation centers also sometimes have dog pools. Some even have the underwater treadmills. If you search online, you can usually find one that is accessible. We are in a fairly remote area of Wyoming and can find pools or treadmills about 2 hours from home. Treatments start around $50 per session, depending on specifics.
The bottom line
If you have a dog that has health or pain issues, a competition athlete or just an active dog that needs to burn off some steam, hydrotherapy is something to think about. It’s really helpful for a lot of issues, fairly affordable and often very accessible.