What is Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy means “water healing” in Greek. Like humans, our dogs can benefit greatly from water healing.
Hydrotherapy uses the properties of water — buoyancy, viscosity, resistance, and hydrostatic pressure — to enable a dog (or human) to move her joints.
Water supports the weight of our body, making us buoyant in the pool. The buoyancy of water reduces stress on their joints and promotes a good range of body movements.
Hydrotherapy provides an ideal and safe environment for our dogs who are recovering from an injury. It is beneficial to dogs who suffer from a degenerative joint disease or even paralysed dogs. Hydrotherapy helps dogs suffering from fractures, elbow/hip dysplasia, limb amputation, or neurological disorders. Hydrotherapy is especially beneficial for dogs who suffer from arthritis due to old age; the warm water helps reduce joint swelling.
Hydrotherapy exercises must be conducted in temperature controlled water, heated to 29 - 30 degree Celsius, which stimulates blood circulation thus improving cardiovascular (heart and lungs) fitness. The warm water eases stiff and swollen joints and encourages a range of joint motion in non-weight-bearing conditions, improving muscle tone and tissue repair.
It is important to note that there is a huge difference in going to a hydrotherapy centre with a trained and certified professional versus taking your dog to the open sea, letting him jump in alone and calling that water therapy. Without proper supervision in the water, a dog recovering from surgery may not have the muscle strength needed to swim correctly.
The temperature of the water in the sea is unregulated. Plus, bacteria from the sea water may cause an infection in a recent incision. Finally, if your dog is not adequately stabilised in the water, he will be putting pressure on the recovery area and causing more harm than good.
As with starting any new medical treatment or fitness regimen, it is always best to check with your veterinarian.
Don’t try hydrotherapy without a professional hydrotherapist.