Dog Hydrotherapy – It’s amazing How it Works!

December 7, 2018

in Cat Health

An important component in the rehabilitation for ones dog is aquatic therapy, which provides the buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, viscosity and resistance as well as the surface tension. How water effects the body is easy to understand through all the basic principles of water and its properties. The upward thrusting of water upon the body is the buoyancy which decreases the weight of the body when immersed in it. This decreases the amount of pain in the dog, by minimizing the amount of weight that is placed on the muscles and painful joints, all aiding in the rehabilitation.

The percentage of body weight on land in these following positions, is the basis of a study done on dogs and the amount of body weight they carried when immersed in water:

with a dog in water up to the level of the hock it was 91%

when the water was at the level of the lateral condyle of the femur it was 85%

38% when water was at the level of the greater trochanter of the femur

A very beneficial factor when treating dogs with arthritis because joints can be unloaded when considering the buoyancy factors of water.

For sore and swollen joints and edematous tissues, hydrostatic pressure offers an enhanced environment to work in.This constant pressure to the body or limbs aids in reducing the swelling and alleviating the gathering of blood and bodily fluids.

Pain is greatly reduced during exercise from hydrostatic pressure. This pressure creates phasic stimuli to the sensory receptors of the skin, causing a decrease in the nociceptor hypersensitivity. This allows the dog to perform more movements with less pain, by reducing their perception of pain.

Fluid flow resistance or viscosity is greater in water than in air. Canine muscles and cardiovascular fitness is increased and strengthened from the resistance that water provides. Sensory awareness is increased from viscosity and unstable joints are supported and stabilized. A paraparesis canine that is supported from the buoyancy and viscosity of water, may choose to walk in water although they won’t on land.

Movement and exercise are performed with more ease with surface tension, just beneath the water surface than at or on the surface, if a dog is extremely weak.

While canine hydrotherapy is known for its benefits, the dog’s psychological well-being and reduction in pain is profound. Their muscle strength and endurance, cardio respiratory endurance and agility is vastly improved. All of this in addition to increasing their range of motion.

In hydrotherapy for dogs the water provides a direct effect on the heart rate and oxygen uptake. The temperature of the water and leg exercise further increases the heart rate. The heart rate and oxygen uptake were greater performing the exercise in water than performing the same exercises on land. When aerobic exercise is utilized in the canine rehabilitation process, it also aids in weight reduction and toning.

Dog water therapy is by far the best in minimizing joint effusion and obtaining superior functional improvement. Dogs exercising on land will achieve greater maximum muscle performance. To allow the muscles to operate in a more functional fashion, walking in water is highly rated. To ensure there is no damage or inflammation to the soft tissues, performing these exercises in dog hydrotherapy pools or dog underwater treadmills where forces are decreased, is best.

To help reduce joint effusion and associated knee pain, dog pools and dog underwater treadmills are highly effective. With a canine that has had knee operations, such as cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) stabilization surgery, this effectively aids in the recovery of lower-extremity functioning. If a dog has surgery or is in post injury rehabilitation, canine rehabilitation through aquatic exercises can be useful as a transition to land based exercises.

The heated water provides many physiological benefits in aquatic therapy for dogs. There is increased joint flexibility along with decreased joint pain. Dogs get improved circulation to their muscles and become more functional on a daily basis. Dogs with thicker coats can tolerate cooler temperatures in water, however, the normal temperature range is between 26 degrees C and 28 degrees C.

There are a variety of methods of hydrotherapy for dogs. Some of the following can be found in most places; whirlpools, underwater treadmills, and dog pools. If one is going to venture into a lake or river for aquatic therapy, caution should be adhered to. Underwater currents can be hazardous and so can harmful bacteria if there is a recent incision. A dog life jacket should be worn for safety.

Hydrotherapy for dogs has helped with the following conditions:

Knee Surgical treatments

Tibial Plateau Levelling Osteotomy and Anterior Cruciate Ligament Repair

Replacement of the hip

Abnormal Hip Growth

Arthritic Conditions

Fractures or Weakened Spine

Degenerative Joint disease

Nerve Disorders

Cognitive Disorders

Amputation of a limb

Amongst all of the benefits from hydrotherapy for dogs, it also includes improving the dog’s balance, confidence, energy level and co-ordination. When considering hydrotherapy for dogs the potential benefits are vast. Any dog that has undergone surgery, their recovery time is significantly reduced. To have minimal discomfort and to restore the physical condition aquatic therapy is the choice.

Aquatic therapy is very calming for dogs. Besides stimulating metabolic functions, the dog’s level of stress is diminished. Besides draining the lymphatic system thoroughly, the immune system is strengthened. There are so many things that dog hydrotherapy accomplishes. From regulating their electrolytes to removing toxins from their system, it enhances their digestion and improves the dog’s skin and coat.

The potential benefits of canine hydrotherapy is becoming more widely recognized and utilized by veterinarians around the world. Aquatic therapy is the therapeutic treatment of choice for canine patients of today.

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