It was just a matter of time until I booked a visit of the city’s first canine water treatment clinic. In recent years, hydrotherapy for dogs has become one of the most popular and important physical therapy treatments for pets..
The owner of Canine Bodywork & Aquatics in NV, Kathy Carr, asked me to observe a rehabilitation session for one of her canine patients.
I’d like to clarify why this therapy is so vital before I tell you about my own experience.
What exactly is canine hydrotherapy?
A relatively new approach to canine physical treatment is that of hydrotherapy. Recovery after orthopedic surgery and degenerative disorders such as arthritis, Degenerative Myelopathy, and other spinal problems are slowed by this supplement.
Hydrostatic pressure, a scientific principle, and warm water’s buoyancy and resistance are used to get dogs moving.
If you have a dog with weakness or paralysis in the hind end, learning about hydrostatic pressure will be an eye-opening experience. When a pool is filled to a given level and warmed to a certain temperature, it creates a pressure or “gravity” in the water.
Using hydrostatic pressure in a swimming pool can help paraplegic dogs rise up on their own and walk on a treadmill.
The following are the two most widely used types of hydrotherapy:
When a dog is placed in a glass chamber filled with water, they are placed on an underwater treadmill, where they are able to walk on it. Depending on their specific limitations, each patient is given specific instructions about the treadmill’s speed and water depth.
In a specially designed pool heated to 85-90 degrees, dogs can swim alongside a therapist. Water jets line the walls of the room, which can be used to massage a patient or to push them to their physical limits as their condition improves.
These common diseases can be treated using water therapy:
- Lower-back intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)
- deteriorating spinal health
- Dysplasia of the hips and elbows
- Increasing joint range of motion in patients with arthritis
- After undergoing orthopedic surgery,
- Other uses include:
- Reduce swelling and discomfort
- Strengthen your muscles and increase your stamina.
- Expand your range of motion.
- Learn how to swim with a puppy.
It is not suggested for dogs with IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease) in the neck, as well as for Wobbler’s Disease and other spine diseases of the neck.
My doctor’s appointment
At the water therapy session, the dog wears a swim vest and ear covers.
In preparation for her water treatment session, Nala gets her bathing suit on. Wearing a swim vest and earplugs is a necessity.
Nala, one of Kathy’s most beloved patients, was one of the first things I wanted to see when I arrived at the clinic today.
In her office where she explains how she became a canine water therapist, Kathy greeted me when I arrived. Then she went on to get her certification as a Small Animal Massage Practitioner after working as a Veterinary Assistant. After that, she developed a passion for hydrotherapy and joined the Association of Canine Water Therapy as a member.
All of this makes her an excellent candidate for aquatic dog training.
Took a trip
Following the tour, we went inside. In addition to a massage room downstairs, there was an enormous indoor swimming pool that stretched 8 feet by 20 feet and was 4.5 feet deep.
The temperature of the pool was maintained at 90 degrees in order to remove pain and toxins from the body of each patient. The water was additionally disinfected using a UV light system. Pool chemicals, according to Kathy, are strictly prohibited.
Afterwards, she pointed to the jets that lined the pool’s sides, similar to those found in a hot tub. Water therapy, according to Kathy, would be incomplete without it. Nala, a senior dog, had the jets set to a gentle low pace. In the meantime, they provide her a soothing massage.
Working with a dog in water therapy, a hydrotherapist
The water jets were a favorite sensation for Nala. Nala leaned towards the jets anytime she went near the pool’s edge because she enjoyed the sensation.
The jets are set at a more powerful speed for other patients, according to Kathy. Dogs benefit from a cardio and muscle-building workout when they swim against the increased jet flow.
I’d heard of a young, hyper-energetic Pitbull who likes to play in the water with the jets turned on full blast. He was able to use his energy in a positive way rather than generating trouble at home.
Some of the patients are in good health and take advantage of the pool to get more fit.
Nala with Ann, her pet parent
Preparing for a hydrotherapy session with the dog.
One time a week, Ann takes her 11-year-old daughter, Nala, to rehab. She had TPLO surgery to stabilize her knee several years ago. After her surgery, Nala continued to receive hydrotherapy treatments to help keep her in shape.
Nala was outfitted with a life jacket prior to entering the water by Kathy. To keep the dog’s ears dry, she attached a headband. Kathy kept her arms beneath her belly the entire time, but at some point during the exercise she took off Nala’s lifejacket so she could swim unassisted.
Nala was carefully led into the pool by Kathy as she walked her to the first step. It was stated to her that she never rushes a dog into the water. After over a year together, Nala had no qualms about soaring past Kathy’s step.
Exercising in a tub
Dogs can benefit from water therapy. During water therapy, dogs are required to wear a life jacket swim vest.
Nala’s torso was supported by Kathy’s arms as she walked the dog around the pool. She made it clear that she was looking for any stiff muscles in Nala’s body. It was only necessary to be in the water for a short time to have a good look at the patient. Her chest and upper spine were more rigid today.
As she swam Nala through the water, Kathy massaged Nala’s tense muscles. Their flexibility improved over time, so we could begin the program.
Another piece of advice was to keep an eye on the dog’s hind legs. Nala was still kicking her back legs when Kathy held her.
Nala was doing a plank workout on land when the lifejacket was removed, and it was the same thing. It pushed her to her core. Nala was getting even more workout as she swam with her tail. While Nala was in Kathy’s arms, this all transpired.
Physical therapy was the next topic on the agenda. Kathy worked on Nala’s hip flexors because they were so tight.
a fascinating phenomenon to observe
During Nala’s swims, I noticed Kathy stroking the canine’s tail sometimes. In technical terms, it’s referred to as “Twiddling.” A gentle rolling motion of the tail tip might activate nerves in the hind end that facilitate movement, if done with your fingers. Kathy incorporates this practice into every training session for Nala, a senior dog with mobility limitations.
There is nothing more relaxing than twirling your toes whether you’re relaxing in the lake or relaxing at home with your dog. Pet owners can easily begin this rehabilitation practice with their own dog.
a time to spend together as a family
Throughout Nala’s therapy, Ann served as her own personal cheerleader.
Kathy gave an in-depth explanation of water therapy’s various benefits. It’s a terrific way for the dog and its owner to get to know one other better.
During Nala’s hour-long lesson, Ann sat by the poolside. For as long as she could remember she was always there for her dog.
It was now time to return to solid ground. Kathy used a large fluffy towel to help Nala onto a mat. While she was drying Nala’s fur, she explained how the therapy continued. It was the perfect occasion to offer Nala a relaxing massage while also infusing her skin with therapeutic essential oils.
Do-it-yourself dog hydration therapy
STARPLAY creates kiddie pools that can be readily converted into canine hydrotherapy tubs for use in the comfort of the dog’s own home.
To be on the safe side, if you decide to try water treatment at home, be sure to prioritize safety. Keep your dog on a leash whenever you’re near or in the water. If they can’t stand, this is critical. There have been accidental drownings.
To that end, here is what you’ll need if you decide to conduct therapy in your own home:
Create a 90-degree and shoulder-height pool of water for your dog. In order to achieve buoyancy, this is the ideal method to use.
Large dogs may benefit from the usage of horse troughs or children’s swimming pools.
A little dog can be bathed in a bathtub.
Keep your dog in the water at all times while you keep an eye on them. Bring a favorite toy to help them get used to the idea of going to the dentist.
As your dog swims, keep an eye on their torso. Check to see whether they kick their hind legs by twiddling their tail.
To help your dog unwind, take them to the edge of the pool frequently. Exercises should not be overdone.
Once or twice a week, begin with brief, five-minute sessions. Only if your dog is tolerating the treatment can you increase the duration.
Give your dog a nice massage while he or she is drying off with a huge fluffy towel.