Today we’re talking about water therapy for dogs. Here at Leesville Animal Hospital in Raleigh, we have the opportunity to see the benefits of canine hydrotherapy on a daily basis because we have our own in-house hydrotherapy tank. If you aren’t familiar with hydrotherapy for dogs, though, you may be wondering why so many of our clients rave about it. That’s why today we’re going to share a few facts about dog water therapy that should help you to better understand why it’s such a popular service!
Water Therapy For Dogs: 5 Facts About Canine Hydrotherapy
1. It’s An Easier Form of Exercise For Arthritic and Elderly Dogs
When you or your dog walks on a hard surface like concrete each step creates an impact. That impact travels up through your foot like a tiny shockwave. This shockwave is absorbed by the body – notably by the cartilage and the synovial fluid between the joints. Unfortunately, as we get older, our joints undergo some changes as a result of years of wear and tear and the cartilage between our joints begins to deteriorate. With this deterioration, our joints begin to swell and become painful and the consistency of the slick and lubricating fluid between our joints changes. This creates pain and swelling that can make traditional forms of exercise – like walking on hard surfaces – more painful because it irritates the already inflamed, damaged joints.
When we substitute walking on hard surfaces for hydrotherapy, however, we are exercising in a buoyant atmosphere where less pressure is applied on the joints from above and less shock is created by each step taken. This combination results in less pain and swelling from arthritic joints! Canine water therapy is a great way to give older pets the exercise they need while limiting the impact of that exercise on their joints!
2. Hydrotherapy Is Beneficial to Anxious Dogs Too!
Some dogs have difficulty with traditional forms of exercise because of anxiety they have around external influences, for example, the sound of cars. These dogs can also greatly benefit from canine hydrotherapy! Being in a “hydro tank” gives your dog the opportunity to exercise without exposure to fearful stimuli, but additionally, the environment of the hydrotherapy tank itself can greatly reduce anxiety. The warm water of the tank helps your dog to relax and feel more comfortable while the glass walls of the tank can create a “safe space” without making your dog feel trapped.
3. It’s Great Cardiovascular Exercise
Just like humans, our dogs need regular exercise to maintain proper cardiovascular health! This can be particularly difficult if your dog is elderly, injured, or significantly overweight. Water therapy like walking in the hydrotherapy tank can be a great solution for exercise in all of these dogs! The buoyancy of the water makes exercise less stressful and your hydrotherapy technician and vet can increase and decrease resistance as necessary to ensure that your dog is getting a healthy workout without overdoing it!
4. It Provides Mental Stimulation For Your Dog!
Imagine if the only exercise you had was walking along the same route every day, you’d get bored, wouldn’t you? Well, our dogs get bored too and they need variety in their exercise routine to keep them happy and mentally stimulated. Adding hydrotherapy is a great way to do this because you’re not only changing the scenery for your dog, but you are also changing the type of exercise completely! As an added bonus, by adding variety into your dog’s exercise routine, you help your dog to exercise all of their muscle groups!
Mental stimulation is exceptionally important to our dogs because it keeps them happy and healthy. If your dog doesn’t receive enough stimulation, you may find that they get bored and begin to make their own entertainment by doing things like rooting through your trash or chewing on your baseboards!
5. Hydrotherapy Helps to Prevent Injury
Not only can water therapy for dogs help with convalescence, but it can also help to prevent injury too! Take, for example, a dog that is significantly overweight. By walking this dog on a traditional surface, we are forcing their limbs and joints to support a large amount of weight. This dog’s joints quickly swell and become painful as a result of supporting all of that extra weight. This isn’t to mention the possibility of straining and spraining muscles by throwing a dog back into a full exercise routine after a sedentary life! How many times have you injured yourself on the first day back in the gym? This happens because you haven’t conditioned your body for a change, instead, you are jumping straight in feet first. Taking your obese dog out for a long walk is a similar situation. Your dog is more likely to sprain or strain muscles due to the change in their lifestyle.
Adding water therapy to your dog’s routine, however, allows the opportunity for your overweight dog to drop some of that unnecessary weight without having to support it all. It also gives your dog the chance to begin building muscle that can provide more support when you do head out to the park and start taking those long walks together!
Interested in Finding Out More About Water Therapy For Dogs?
If you live in or around the Raleigh area and you’re interested in learning more about canine hydrotherapy or if you’d like to book your pup in for a session in our water therapy tank, just give us a call at (919)870-7000!