Benefits of Hydrotherapy
What are the benefits of hydrotherapy for your dogs?
Hydrotherapy, in conjunction with veterinary treatment, can significantly improve the quality and increase the rate of healing following surgery or traumatic injury. The careful use of hydrotherapy can help with post-surgery rehabilitation and increase the chance of a successful return to full health and fitness.
Safe exercise without stress, strengthen and maintain muscle groups
Hydrotherapy is an excellent form of exercise because most of the muscles used in the daily movement are involved - as it is non-weight bearing, it is without the stress caused by motion on the hard ground.
Hydrotherapy allows the "working out" and strengthening the muscles while avoiding this potentially damaging impact on hard ground. Due to the increased resistance of movement created by the water, the muscles have to work harder than they would do on land.
Increased circulation of blood to the muscles and stimulate tissue healing
The warm water in hydrotherapy increases the blood flow to the muscles, increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients, leading to muscle relaxation and a reduction in pain and stiffness. Improved circulation reduces swelling around an injured area and enhances healing.
Relief of pain, swelling & stiffness
The buoyancy effect of water reduces the load on weight-bearing joints, which helps to reduce pain and allows greater movement and exercise. The hydrostatic pressure applied to the body in water can assist in reducing swelling, and as the pressure increases with depth, this encourages fluid swelling (oedema) in the limbs to move away from affected areas, immersed lower in the water back towards the body.
Increased range of movement
A decreased range of motion can often be due to pain, swelling, or stiffness. Buoyancy can help to gently encourage stiff joints into an improved range of movement with minimal additional pain;
Muscle strengthening and muscle toning
Hydrotherapy tones most of the major muscle groups and improves the general overall fitness of the dog. Movement in the water is more difficult owing to the water resistance. Water-based exercise uses 30% more oxygen than similar land-based exercise. By encouraging pain-free limb movement against the resistance of water, muscle bulk will increase, and thus muscle wastage (atrophy) can be reversed.
In water, the heart needs to work harder in order to meet the increased demand for nutrients by all the muscles which are being worked. For most dogs, a short hydrotherapy session is an extremely challenging workout. Whilst immersed in water the chest is subjected to the effects of hydrostatic pressure; this means that every breath requires more effort. In particular, muscles used for breathing in have to work much harder, and as muscles strengthen with exercise, this improves the whole respiratory system.