Dog hydrotherapy is just one of the services that we offer here at Leesville Animal Hospital. Many of our canine clients enjoy the benefits of hydrotherapy, but surprisingly many of our new visitors to the clinic have never heard of dog hydrotherapy! That’s why today we want to tell you a little bit about it, about our hydrotherapy tank, and about how it can benefit your dog.
Dog Hydrotherapy: What is It?
Let’s begin with the “what”.
Hydrotherapy literally translates to mean water therapy so dog hydrotherapy is water therapy for your dog.
Canine hydrotherapy can be done in a water therapy tank or in a water therapy pool. Both the water tank and the pool use heated water that is deep enough to cover your dog’s joints or to allow them to swim.
In the case of a hydrotherapy pool, therapy is less controlled and involves a therapist working with your dog in the water to exercise them through swimming and motion. In the case of a hydrotherapy tank, therapy is more controlled. Your dog stands in a large tank that is large enough for them to walk a few steps forward or back. The bottom of the tank has a treadmill that is designed to function underwater. Once your dog has walked into the tank, the ramp lifts up and seals against the tank side and the therapist then begins to fill the tank with warm water. Depending on why your dog is undergoing hydrotherapy and the size of your dog, the height of the water will be different. The aim, however, is the same – to allow your dog to exercise in water without straining their joints or muscles. Once the tank has filled to the desired water level, the therapist will start the treadmill at a slow pace and work one on one with your dog to encourage them.
What Are the Benefits of Dog Hydrotherapy?
There are a number of benefits to dog hydrotherapy and they can be helpful for dogs of all ages and health profiles.
- Canine water therapy relieves stress on the joints while allowing for exercise.
- Water therapy for dogs helps to relax tense muscles.
- Water therapy for canines also improves circulation.
- Dog water therapy also promotes stronger muscles.
- Hydrotherapy for dogs boosts the immune system.
- Canine hydrotherapy provides controlled and adjustable levels of exercise even when the weather is cold!
Why is Canine Hydrotherapy Done?
So, what type of dogs can benefit from using a hydrotherapy tank like the one we have here at Leesville Animal Hospital? Any dog can benefit from using our hydrotherapy tank and we’re always happy to work with anyone who would like to see how the tank works for their dog! Most often, however, our hydrotherapy clients include:
- Dogs with arthritis
- Overweight dogs
- Senior dogs
- Dogs that need to build muscle before or after surgical procedures
- Dogs with muscle atrophy who are too weak to exercise otherwise
- Dogs in need of rehabilitative care
Dog Hydrotherapy at Leesville Animal Hospital
As we mentioned above, here at Leesville Animal Hospital, we have a dog hydrotherapy tank. In fact, we have a special room dedicated to our hydrotherapy clients! The room itself is nice and warm and your dog will work one on one with one of our therapists so they don’t feel crowded or overwhelmed.
Getting into the Tank
When your dog comes in for their hydrotherapy appointment, we lead them gently up the ramp to the tank and allow them to get comfortable – some dogs are so relaxed they even lie down while they wait for the tank to start filling with water! Then the hydrotherapist gently closes, latches, and seals the ramp of the tank which doubles as a door!
Filling the Tank
The next step is to fill the hydrotherapy tank! The tank will begin to fill slowly with warm sterilized water. As the tank slowly fills, the water will begin to rise around your dog. If your dog is one of the many who lay down, don’t worry, they will stand up when the water level starts to rise!
Your dog’s hydrotherapist will monitor your dog as the water level begins to rise and at any point, they can hit a single button to stop the water from rising if needed but you should know that all of our pups love our tank and see it as a fun experience so you don’t need to be nervous for them!
Your dog’s hydrotherapist will start the treadmill moving slowly so that your dog can begin to walk and adjust to the movement of the treadmill. Your veterinarian will have established a water therapy plan for your dog which your dog’s therapist will work from. This will include increasing the incline of the treadmill and increasing the speed of the treadmill slowly. The therapist will use the veterinarian’s guide to organize each hydrotherapy session so that your dog makes steady progress through their program.
Not every day is the same as the last for your dog, just as it isn’t the same for us when we are in the gym! That’s why your dog’s hydrotherapist will stay with your dog and work with them during the whole session so that they can make any adjustments needed to make your dog more comfortable.
It’s Always About Your Dog
Our hydrotherapy program at Leesville Animal Hospital is always about your dog. It’s about catering a rehabilitation or exercise program to meet your dog’s needs and to facilitate their healing and wellness. Sometimes that means that progress is slower than expected and sometimes it means that progress is faster than expected, but our focus is always on making your dog feel comfortable while they get well!
If you think that dog hydrotherapy might be a good option for your dog, give us a call at (919)870-7000 and arrange to come in and visit us!