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Hydrotherapy for Dogs

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Hydro Therapy for Dogs – Canine Water Therapy Treatment

There is no doubting that fact that you have more than likely heard of hydrotherapy as a form of therapy.  But have you ever heard of using hydrotherapy in order to help your dog as a type of physiotherapy or occupational therapy?  In fact, it may actually surprise you to discover that hydrotherapy is actually much more common than you would think when it comes to helping your best friend rehabilitate or even relieve pain.  Here is everything that you need to know about your dog and using hydrotherapy as a way to help them get better and alleviate their pains.

Originating from the Greek, hydrotherapy is actually going to translate over to ‘water healing’.  But just because a word means one thing doesn’t necessarily mean that it is able to actually fulfill that particular thing.  With that being said, here is everything that you need to know about hydrotherapy and the benefits that it can provide for your dog.

What Exactly is Hydrotherapy for Dogs?

Hydrotherapy is going to be a special form of treatment that uses water to help rehabilitate certain injuries that your dog may have suffered.  And if you are wondering, yes, this includes helping to alleviate pain.  While it is not going to be the perfect solution for every type of injuries, there are some certain injuries where hydrotherapy is going to be extremely beneficial.  In fact, hydrotherapy is going to be very useful for dogs who have torn an ACL, have any phase of hip dysplasia, are suffering from degenerative joint disease, are suffering from arthritis, or even dogs that have been paralyzed or have lost one of their limbs.  While the last two injuries would not be ideal for your dog at all, unfortunately those types of injuries happen, and life must go on.  While they will never get back to their original selves, hydrotherapy is a great way to help them get as close to pre-injury as possible.

What makes hydrotherapy so great for your dog’s injuries is going to be the fact that it uses buoyancy, viscosity, resistance, and even hydrostatic pressure in order to help get your dog moving through their injured joints that they are trying to have rehabilitated.  This type of special therapy is going to be very effective and work so well because you are going to be providing an essentially weightless environment for your dog to move in.  What this means, is that your dog is going to have the opportunity to move around their injured limb without having the added pressure of gravity to combat with.  

So why does hydrotherapy work so well you ask?  I tis because of the buoyancy of the water.  It is this buoyancy that is going to reduce the amount of physical stress that your dog’s joints are going to need to go through as they are actively trying to recover from whatever their condition is.  On top of that, this type of therapy is also going to be a great anti-inflammatory, as it is going to help reduce any swelling that may have formed in body tissues if hydrotherapy was not utilized.

Different Types of Hydrotherapy for Dogs

When it comes to hydrotherapy and your dog, there are going to be three main types that they can do.  Each of the different types of hydrotherapy are going to use completely different types of equipment, as well as serve a completely different purpose.  What this means is that you are never going to want to do a diagnosis of your dog’s injuries yourself and then start any type of rehabilitation treatment.  Instead, be sure that you have been to your vet and have spoken at length about the hydrotherapy options that are going to be best suited for your dog to go through.  If you don’t, you are putting your dog at risk for suffering even greater injuries, which is going to be the complete opposite of what you are trying to do with the hydrotherapy in the first place.

With all of that being said, here are the three different types of hydrotherapy for your dog.

Underwater Treadmill

The underwater treadmill is going to be one of the most common types of hydrotherapy for dogs.  It is going to be the best type of hydrotherapy for your dog if they are suffering from any type of arthritis or other joint issues.  Essentially, you are going to have a treadmill that has been encased inside of a plastic or glass chamber (think of putting a mini treadmill into a giant fish tank that is not very deep).  Once your dog has entered the hydrotherapy chamber, the door will then be secured into place and the water will start to pour into the tank until it has reached the height of just above your dog’s legs.  So, depending upon the size of your dog, it is going to determine how much water is going to be poured into the tank.

Once the tank has been completely filled to the correct level according to your dog’s height, the treadmill that they are standing on will then start to move at a very slow pace.  When this happens, your dog is going to have to walk on the treadmill in order to avoid being pushed into the wall of the tank.  What makes this type of therapy so effective, is that the water is going to provide a slight resistance that will be just enough to help your dog strengthen the muscles of their joints, but at the same time, it is going to take away all of the effects that gravity would be adding.  What all of this means is that this type of therapy is going to create a very low-impact exercise space for your dog to heal and recover.

Whirlpool Therapy

This is going to be the best therapy if your dog has just undergone some type of major surgery and is in some need of major pain relief.  You can think of whirlpool therapy for your dog as a jacuzzi, but with your dog inside of it instead of you.  

For this type of hydrotherapy, your dog is going to be put into a special harness that will then slowly lower them into the whirlpool.  How deep the water is for your dog will depend upon several different factors, the main ones being the size of your dog and where the injury they are recovering from is located (you wouldn’t submerge your dog completely if their injury was on their paw, right?).

Once your dog has been submerged to the appropriate levels in the whirlpool tub, a very nice, warm jet stream will then be initiated, and the tub will start to whirl.  What this does for your dog, is to provide a very effective massage to the muscles of the injured area.  The jets shooting out the water are going to create a very deep and effective recovering process for the injured joints, which is in turn going to give the pain relive that your dog is in so much need for.

Dog Pools

For this type of hydrotherapy, it is going to provide you with a resistance that is enough to encourage your dog’s range of motion, which is going to be ideally suited for those dogs who are suffering from any type of degenerative joint issue or arthritis.  Dog pools are going to mainly target one certain part of your dog’s body, those normally being either the elbow area, their chest muscles, any of their limbs, or their shoulders.

How large and deep the hydrotherapy pool is will depend upon two different factors.  These are going to be your vet or therapist, as well as the type of joint issue that your dog is suffering from and needs the work.  Normally, your dog will be required to wear some type of floating device (think of a dog life jacket) or may even be in a special harness if they are not necessarily too fond of being in the water.  This is all going to depend upon your dog, so it will be decided on a case by case basis.  

On top of that harness and/or doggy life jacket, there may also be an extra assistant to help the main therapist and better monitor how your dog is doing while inside of the dog pool.

At the end of the day, injuries are going to be something that are essentially inevitable.  No matter if you are a human or a dog, you will get injured eventually.  But just because you have an injury, does not mean that you can’t get better.  This is the exact reason that hydrotherapy has been tweaked in order to help your dog get better in a shorter period of time.  It has been proven to help your dog alleviate ailments and pain, so why not give it a try for your dog when they are in need of therapy?

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