What You Should Know About Canine Hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy is more than just swimming – it is a form of low-impact exercise and physical therapy that can be used to help dogs recover from acute injuries as well as chronic illnesses. Keep reading to learn more about what canine hydrotherapy is and how it might benefit your dog.
Related: Medical Marijuana for Dogs
What is Canine Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy is a type of treatment that involves the use of water for pain relief and treatment. Canine hydrotherapy, then is the application of this treatment for dogs. Humans have been using hydrotherapy for thousands of years but canine hydrotherapy is a relatively recent development. Canine hydrotherapy is frequently used for bone, joint, and ligament injuries because it helps to reduce the amount of weight your dog is bearing, allowing him to stretch and strengthen his muscles without the risk for further injury. Additionally, hydrotherapy provides many therapeutic benefits including the following:
- Relief from pain, stiffness, and swelling
- Alleviation of muscle spasms
- Strengthening muscles and maintaining strength
- Increased range of motion
- Improved blood circulation
- Increased cardiovascular fitness and endurance
- Improved tissue healing and recovery speed
The most important element involved in canine hydrotherapy is, of course, the pool. There are various different designs that can be used for canine hydrotherapy pools but most of them are smaller than the typical swimming pool and they are generally heated. In addition to taking some of the weight off of your dog’s bones and joints, the heat of the water can provide a soothing effect. Many canine hydrotherapy pools are treated traditionally with chlorine, though some may be treated with alternative chemicals – they may also have jets installed to add resistance that forces the dog to swim more strongly as part of his treatment.
Is Canine Hydrotherapy Really Worth It?
Because canine hydrotherapy is an alternative form of treatment there is some skepticism out there regarding its efficacy. It’s worth your time to learn the basics about how this form of therapy is applied and the different problems it can help to correct – many pet owners have already discovered this valuable form of therapy. Canine hydrotherapy can be applied to a variety of injuries and diseases including torn ligaments, ruptured tendons, spinal injuries, degenerative joint disease, and other similar conditions and injuries.
It can also be used as a form of physical therapy following surgery. Another valuable application for canine hydrotherapy is to help improve physical fitness for dogs that are severely overweight or obese to the point that normal exercise is dangerous because it would put too much weight on their joints. It can even be used for puppies with congenital joint conditions to maintain condition until they are mature enough for corrective surgery.
Though it may seem like canine hydrotherapy is something you can do on your own in your backyard swimming pool, it is a specialized form of therapy that should only be administered by a professional. If you think that canine hydrotherapy might be beneficial for your dog, speak to your veterinarian for a referral and to find a local facility that provides this type of therapy.
Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.
More by Kate Barrington