If your pet needs low-impact exercise or is recovering from an injury or surgery, hydrotherapy (aquatic therapy) may be the ideal way for your pet to have fun while working out. Today our Palmyra vets explain why we use hydrotherapy for rehabilitation.
What Is Hydrotherapy Or Aquatic Therapy?
Hydrotherapy, also called aquatic therapy, is a form of physical therapy for pets utilizing the buoyancy of water. A certified hydrotherapist leads your pet through a series of exercises in water at a specially equipped rehabilitation center.
Aquatic therapy for pets is a low-impact treatment that can help to improve your pet's strength, range of motion, and endurance. The buoyancy properties of water minimize weight-bearing stress on the joints, which helps prevent tissue injuries, inflammation, and pain.
What Conditions Can Aquatic Therapy Help Treat?
Aquatic therapy is beneficial for:
- Post-operative recovery from orthopedic procedures
- Pets with neurological conditions
- Pets suffering from painful osteoarthritis
- Pets dealing with pain due to hip dysplasia
- Metabolic conditions such as Cushing’s and diabetes which can result in muscle atrophy
- Paralyzed pets
- Helping overweight pets get the exercise they need to lose weight
Aquatic therapy can also be used as a training tool to help working pets reach optimal fitness levels.
How Does Aquatic Therapy Work?
Aquatic therapy utilizes the buoyancy, resistance, viscosity, and hydrostatic pressure of water to help your pet work painful joints and limbs. By altering the water level your pet can swim weightlessly in the water, providing zero-impact exercise for your pooch. Or by reducing the water level so that your pet's feet touch the underwater treadmill, the water's buoyancy can allow your pet to gently 'run' on the treadmill without putting excess stress on their painful limbs.
The buoyancy provided by the water works to reduce the stress placed on your pet's limbs and joints and allows your pet can take part in a fun exercise that can help speed their recovery from injury or just help them to lose weight.
Typically warm water is used to help loosen muscles and speed recovery for injured pets, whereas colder water can be ideal for working pets who will have a hard workout while in the water.
Are There Different Types Of Aquatic Therapy For Pets?
Depending on your pet's requirements, we may choose the 2,500-gallon heated in-ground swimming pool or an underwater treadmill.
The underwater treadmill allows us to gradually and gently introduce controlled levels of weight-bearing exercises by varying the water level (and as such controlling the level of buoyancy). For example, a pet that is in water up to about its hip level will put about half the amount of weight on its limbs than normal. Treatment using our underwater treadmill is commonly used for pets with joint issues and arthritis.
The underwater treadmill is encased in a glass or plastic watertight container big enough to accommodate most pets. A side door is opened to allow your pet to walk in, then the door is shut, and water fills the chamber to the level just above the pet’s legs.
Slowly the treadmill will begin to move and encourage your pet to walk. The water in the tank provides strength training resistance while eliminating the added stress of gravity.
Swimming and performing guided exercises in our pet pool provide your pet with a non-weight-bearing way to get joints moving, build strength, and have a personalized cardio workout. This form of aquatic therapy is especially effective for osteoarthritis and weaknesses related to neurological conditions.
Some pet rehabilitation centers are equipped to provide their four-legged patients with Jacuzzi-style treatments. Whirlpools provide a massage-like benefit while helping to relax muscles.
Is Aquatic Therapy Good For All Pets?
Aquatic therapy is not ideal for all pets. Some injuries do not respond well to this therapy, and pets suffering from an unstable spine should not take part in aquatic therapy. Speak to your vet to learn more about the right rehabilitation therapy for your pet.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms.