Dog hydrotherapy consists of using water (hydro) for the treatment of a problem (therapy). As it applies to your dog, you help them heal from many skin or joint issues and strengthen muscles. While there are lots of variations, it’s basically one of three things;
Like humans, dogs can benefit from the warm water and soothing jets of a whirlpool used for dog hydrotherapy. When the water covers the problem area, it helps soothe, thereby decreasing pain and soreness from achy joints and muscles. A whirlpool can also help with skin or wound healing.
Underwater treadmill –
Many facilities have a specialized treadmill for dog hydrotherapy. When your dog gets in the water, filled to a level above the legs, it decreases the weight that the joints have to carry. At the same time, it provides resistance to strengthen muscles. The water can be warm for those with sore muscles and joints or cooler for dogs strenuously working out to stay fit.
Swimming pools (lakes, etc.) –
Since access to a specialized treadmill can be limited due to the facilities available or the cost of getting one for your own use (several thousand dollars), you can go the simple route of having your dog swim in a pool. You can guide your dog through different exercises, depending on your goals. They’ll still benefit from the buoyancy and resistance provided by the water. If you use an outdoor pool, weather can play a big part in whether your dog gets therapy or not. However, this can be a much less expensive option.
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 dog 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 underwater treadmills. If you search online, you can usually find an accessible one. We are in a 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 with health or pain issues, a competitive athlete, or just an active dog that needs to burn off some steam, hydrotherapy is something to think about. It’s beneficial for a lot of issues, fairly affordable, and often very accessible. Have you tried it with your dog? Let me know in the comments below.