In Hydrotherapy the buoyancy of the water enables dogs that are in pain walking on land to use their limbs more freely increasing muscle tone, and helping to make their day-to-day life on land easier and less painful.
The water treadmill is an ideal environment for the safe, early introduction of exercise after surgery. At least one therapist is always in the water supporting the dog and another therapist will support from outside the treadmill if needed, especially in the early stages. This enables the patient to use their limbs correctly and learn to walk properly rather than establishing an incorrect gait pattern. Different heights of water are used to work specific muscles or joints. Walking in the water reduces the load through joints or surgically treated areas while allowing the muscles to work and help to prevent atrophy caused by disuse.
Aquatic therapy is also beneficial pre-operatively, for example before a hip replacement, when muscle tone can be improved around the affected joints to aid recovery after surgery.
Hydrotherapy can be used as part of a fitness and conditioning program for sports dogs and can even be used as part of a weight control program for dogs struggling with obesity.
We spend time accustoming dogs to going into the treadmill and make if fun for them with the use of treats and toys. Even dogs who do not like swimming will usually be happy to walk in the treadmill after the initial introduction.
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Common conditions treated with hydrotherapy include:
- Post orthopaedic surgery – for example, Cruciate repair, fracture repair, spinal surgery
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Nerve injury
- Muscle, tendon and ligament injury
- Intervertebral disc disease
- Fitness and conditioning