Research Finds That Doggy Paddling Helps Canine Joint Issues

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The doggy paddle has always been a thing of beauty, as dogs are notorious for their love of aquatic adventuring. Some breeds, like the Portuguese Water Dog named for its love of the sea, can’t get enough of splashing through the waves. Researchers at Hartpury University Centre in the UK have published a recent study that suggests a day at the lake house might be more beneficial to your dog’s health than you might think.

The study was conducted with Labrador Retrievers who, along with German Shepherds, are prone to exhibiting a form of the genetic disorder “elbow dysplasia.” Elbow dysplasia causes a phenomenon known as forearm lameness, and can cause serious mobility issues for your pets. Without therapy, the condition may worsen, which can lead to the decline in quality-of-life for affected dogs.

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Amazingly, dogs in the UK study with this disorder, who used hydrotherapy regularly, showed a marked improvement in their condition. Everything from their strides to their range of motion showed improvement, meaning this form of water therapy has the potential to assist many dogs in regaining their ability to lead active lives.

Though the study only included Labradors in their test pool, researcher Dr Alison Wills stated: “as other breeds are predisposed to developing elbow dysplasia, particularly German Shepherds, it would be interesting to investigate how hydrotherapy affects the movement of different types of dogs.” There is a lot of potential for researchers to expand and build upon this study, including the creation of specialised water routines and exercises that prove to be beneficial.

Beyond the researchers’ expectations, the control group of healthy pups also showed a notable improvement in their mobility traits after hydrotherapy. Their strides improved both in frequency and length. Dr. Wills confirmed that “from the findings of this study, it does appear that swimming is good for dogs.”

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Does this mean that every dog should sign-up for an aquatic “Sweating to the Oldies” classes? Though it can’t be confirmed that hydrotherapy will improve the life of every dog breed, due to the different builds and skeletal variations from dog to dog, playing outside in water is a great way to exercise and keep fit by the dock. There’s no better way for you and your pup to rock that beach bod this summer.

Some swimming pools open for dogs on cleaning days, so call up your local community pool to find out if there is a doggy paddle day scheduled in the near future.

If you’re planning on swimming with your dog this summer, it is important to practice water safety. Always make sure the water your dog is swimming in is clean and free of dangerous debris. Not all dogs are great swimmers, and some may require the use of a life preserver. Dogs should never be in the water unsupervised, especially in deep open waters where they may get pushed too far due to waves and the undertow. It is also important to make sure your dog stays hydrated during physical activity, and that their reaction to the sun’s heat is monitored carefully for heat stress.

Time to hit the pool deck, everyone, it may just be exactly what your dog needs to keep healthy!

[Source: Science Daily]


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