Hydrotherapy provides a non-weight bearing form of exercise. At Snowy’s Canine Therapy Centre, there is a specially designed heated pool, measuring 7mtrs by 4mtrs; heated to a minimum temperature of 29oC. The pool is also equipped with jets providing additional resistance in the pool if required. The water quality is tested a minimum of 3 times a day, maintaining cleanliness and ensuring the water is of the highest standard.
Our hydrotherapy programmes are designed around each individual dog.
The heating of the pool aids in providing comfort, relaxation, and pain relief. In addition, hydrotherapy provides excellent therapy for dogs in need of careful rehabilitation after injury or those suffering with general orthopaedic conditions. The size of our hydrotherapy pool enables dogs to come for fitness and enjoyment swims too.
Hydrotherapy or water therapy is the use of water to relieve discomfort and promote physical wellbeing. The warmth of the water will relax muscles by initiating an expansion of surface blood vessels therefore increasing the skin temperature, which can bring about a decrease in pain and muscle spasm. A dog may have a decreased range of motion; this may be caused due to pain, swelling, or stiffness.
It is an ideal exercise for any dog whether recovering from an injury, on an exercise programme to lose weight or simply to swim for fitness and enjoyment. Many people think “ah well my dog can swim in the local lake”. This has it’s down falls, not only from a safety point of view, as you can never be sure what is in the water, or are able to see how tired the dog may be becoming. It is far better to swim dogs in heated water since cold-water cause’s constriction of the blood vessels near the skin and to the superficial muscles, which may restrict the flow of blood making the muscles less efficient. It is understood, that Hydrotherapy is able to be a natural anti-inflammatory through its ability to reduce tissue swelling.
- Recovery from muscle sprains/strains
- Pre and Post-Operative Conditioning and Recovery: such as:
- Cruciate ligament operations
- Spinal Injuries
- CDRM – Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyelopathy
- Joint pain relief and increase in joint movement; such as;
- Hip Dysplasia
- Recovery from fractures and neurological damage
- Mental wellbeing
- Weight loss
- Increase fitness for all types of dogs, such as;
- Show, Agility and Working Dogs
- Puppy swimming – this helps the puppy to be confident in the water, puppies would have to be over 6 months (unless referred by the vet for medical reasons)
- It’s Enjoyable!
There are four forces working on a dog immersed in water:
- Gravity: Water level can be adjusted to increase or decrease weightlessness
- Buoyancy: decreases the loading onto weight bearing joints. Removes the impact associated with walking on dry land. Provides assistance with balance. Aids in the rehabilitation of weak muscles and painful joints
- Hydrostatic pressure: assists in reducing swelling by causing a bodily fluid movement away from the affected area instead of to it. Can be beneficial for swollen joints and oedematous swollen tissue and can aid in circulatory problems
- Surface Tension: Resistance to movement is slightly greater on the surface. This will have a greater effect on smaller dogs who will have to work proportionally harder
Benefits of Hydrotherapy:
- Easier to move as non-weight bearing
- Less joint concussion as non-weight bearing exercise
- Builds core muscle strength to increase mobility for spinal injuries
- Support for weakened muscles/joints
- Release of endorphins gives a feeling of wellbeing
Immediate / short term effects:
- Decreased pain perception
- Increased sensory perception
- Relaxation of muscle tension and/or muscle spasm
- Decreased heart rate at rest
- Reduction of oedema
Long term effects:
- Increased joint range of movement
- Increased muscle strength
- Improved muscle patterning and recruitment
- Prevention of secondary complications
- Improved cardiovascular fitness
- Decreased pain and inflammation
- Potentially earlier return to normal function
- Slowing of progression of degenerative disease processes
- Improved quality of life
Hydrotherapy and the working dog
Hydrotherapy is a great way to improve the performance and stamina or your working dog. The performance and stamina can be improved through regular workouts in the pool. A 5-minute swim is equivalent to about a 5 mile walk.
Hydrotherapy uses the properties of water — buoyancy, viscosity, resistance, and hydrostatic pressure this enables the dog to move their joints without the addition of impact. Water makes the body buoyant, so when submerged, the weight of the body is supported. This means the dog is not fighting gravity. The buoyancy of water reduces stress on the joints and this creates a much safer environment for the dog to improve his fitness and maintain muscular strength.
Hydrotherapy is a great addition to their fitness programme, being a non-weight bearing therapy there are numerous benefits such as;
- Improving the muscle strength and maintenance
- Improves circulation
- Increase the range of movement
- Cardiovascular fitness is improved
- Fitness and enjoyment for working dogs
- Increase overall energy levels, while reducing pain and stress.
Swimming tones most of the major muscle groups and improves general overall fitness of the dog. Movement in water is more difficult due to the resistance of the water. Water based exercise uses 30% more oxygen than similar land-based exercising. By encouraging pain-free limb movement against this resistance, muscle bulk can be improved.
Under water, the chest is under pressure from the force exerted by the water squeezing inwards. This means that every breath requires more effort – the muscles used, particularly when breathing in, have to work much harder. As any muscle will strengthen with exercise, this improves the whole respiratory system.
The heart has to work harder in order to meet the increased demand for nutrients required by all the muscles, which are being worked.