July 15, 2024

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Aquatic Therapy for Dogs: Improving Mobility and Quality of Life

4 min read

Our pets are the highlights of our day, and we certainly cherish every minute with our furry friends. Ensuring their well-being throughout their lives is every pet owner’s goal. But sometimes, it can be tricky to find the right answers. This is especially true with mobility issues. As dogs get older, they deal with their own stress on their joints and muscles. 

Hydrotherapy is one solution for a pup recovering from an injury or even managing chronic issues. But what is it, and can we do it from home? Let’s find out. 

Walkin’ Wheels Wheelchair
Dog uses rear support harness for weak back legs
Walkin’ Lift Rear Harness
German Shepherd combo harness for leg support
Walkin’ Combo Harness

What Is Hydrotherapy for Dogs?

Hydrotherapy for dogs is the process of using water-based exercises along with treatments for physical rehabilitation. It also is a fantastic way to reduce any pain from injury and improve overall mobility. Just like with humans, water-based movement and exercise allows for a controlled environment and resistance. 

Usually, this practice is done with a certified canine hydrotherapist. There are also many different forms of hydrotherapy offered for dogs—for example, underwater treadmills, swimming pools, and underwater massage. 

Benefits of Water-Based Exercise

1. Accelerated Healing and Injury Recovery

When working in a controlled environment, hydrotherapy can accelerate the long process for dogs who are struggling with injury. This is because water therapy reduces the weight load and pressure put on the injury. This allows for a much more gentle and less aggressive movement, limiting the chance of re-injury. It allows for blood flow, which promotes healing. This means having a better chance at reduced downtime. 

2. Increased Circulation

The ability to heal faster comes from the increased blood flow or circulation. When oxygen and nutrient supply are enhanced and delivered to our tissues, healing is promoted. This allows and aids the process while enhancing a dog’s immune system as well. 

3. Pain Reduction and Management

Hydrotherapy includes the use of warm water to relax the muscles. During this time, gentle exercises are done to help trigger endorphins. This allows for natural painkillers for our puppy. This is incredible for dogs suffering from chronic pain, as water therapy is a pain management solution. This is especially useful for dogs with hip issues like dysplasia or degenerative joint diseases. This can help increase the quality of their life by keeping them active. 

4. Enhanced Posture and Balance

Good balance and posture are just as important for dogs as it is for humans. When dogs don’t engage their core muscles, they begin to lose their ability to be on balance and can end up injuring themselves. Hydrotherapy can be a fantastic solution for dogs who suffer from spinal issues or deal with neurological issues. This provides a safe environment to move in and increases stability. 

Where Do We Find These Facilities?

Ask Your Veterinarian

Veterinarians are your best resource. They will have networks and be able to recommend a reputable hydrotherapy center in your area that caters to your dog’s specific needs.

Search Online

It’s never a bad idea to use search engines and social media platforms to look for hydrotherapy facilities. This can give you an inside look plus see all the reviews that other people leave of that place. Many centers have websites where they share information about their services, including the types of hydrotherapy offered and contact details.

Join local pet-related online forums, social media groups, or communities. Fellow pet owners might have recommendations based on personal experiences, which is invaluable. 

Trying It at Home

For dogs with serious conditions, it’s best always to let a licensed professional help. But that doesn’t mean you can’t recreate safe environments for some dog needs. If you have space, consider setting up a small, shallow pool in your backyard. Engaging in gentle water exercise this way is fantastic for our pups. This also eliminates rough waves of the beach that could end up causing further damage or injury. 

Start Exploring Options

There is a lot of upside to hydrotherapy for a dog and little to no downside except maybe cost. Hydrotherapy and aquatics for dogs is a solution for a range of issues from large to small. This is because the ease and less pressure dogs have to feel when exercising through water is the same benefit we get as humans. 

It may take some trial and error, as knowing what works for your pup is unique. This is like understanding the pacing of a dog versus them trotting. It may take a few extra looks to identify. But once we can tell what works for hydrotherapy, it can be a game changer for them. 

German Shepherd dog wheelchair

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