THE BENEFITS OF K9 HYDROTHERAPY
The benefits of swimming and moving the physical body in water are well known and have been used for centuries. Hydrotherapy is amazing! It is incredible at how much it helps our four legged companions! Hydrotherapy decreases the dog's pain and inflammation and increasing the dog’s sense of well-being. Because of the increased resistance to movement, a 5 minute swim is equivalent to about a 5 minute jog. The buoyancy of water supports and lessons stress on the joints, encourages freer movement and provides a safe environment for exercise.
Hydrotherapy works because it allows the dog to move in a 100% weightless environment, encouraging them to increase their range of movement without pain. The warm water increases circulation allowing muscles to loosen, allowing muscles to move more efficiently. Hydrotherapy works like a natural anti-inflammatory by reducing tissue swelling and providing relief of pain and stiffness. Because of this it can also have a psychological benefit because the dog is able to exercise without pain.
HYDROTHERAPY POOL VS WATER TREADMILL VS LAKE SWIMMING
Water therapy can benefit dogs regardless of age or size. Both are very beneficial. The Pool is non weight bearing. The pool is the best way to start recovery after surgery because the dog can move in the water without bearing weight. Dog pools are good for increasing sensory awareness and promoting the reflex swimming response in dogs with neurological disorders. Pools are also great for conditioning the working dogs which need a high level of fitness and strength. A pool can be very relaxing to a dog and create a sense of well being. There will be an increase in blood flow to the limbs and a decrease in pain levels.
Eventually during the recovery process the dog will need to go with the hydrotherapy treadmill. The Treadmill requires the dog to use graduated weight to move against mild resistance to motion which helps strengthen muscles. More body weight is supported as the level of the water in the treadmill increases. Dog underwater treadmills allow for controlled settings for active time, rest time, speed and water height.
It is believed that better flexion is achieved in a pool while better extension of joints is achieved in a treadmill. Despite this, the same degree of extension can be achieved in a dog pool with “hands on” work with a hydro therapist. Some people argue that a pool is much more scary for pets then an underwater treadmill. Both the pool and the treadmill can be scary at first. In an underwater treadmill the pet is in a box with no escape route that all of a sudden fills up with water. That can be scary. A pool
is a bigger body of water, and is initially scary too, some dogs think because it is open they can fight to escape the pool. Either way both initially are a bit intimidating to a pet on their first visit. But done properly the pet can be reassured and helped to gain confidence and finally relax whether it is by pool or an underwater treadmill. For your pet's safety and well being be sure that your therapists has been trained and certified in hydrotherapy for animals at an accredited school or is a licensed veterinarian.
There is very limited advantages to letting your dog swim in lakes, rivers, ponds or ocean. It may give your dog freedom to play and socialize it may also cause some disadvantages.
• Cold water temperatures can cause stiffness in the dogs joints.
• Cold temperatures increases the chance of blood moving away from peripheral limbs.
• Potential for an accident is high because you have no control on your dogs movement in
• There is the risk of drowning or water toxicity.
• There is always the risk of waterborne diseases and polluted water.
WHEN HYDROTHERAPY IS NOT RECOMMENDED
Infections or infectious skin diseases
Open wounds or surgical wounds that are still draining
HOW WE DO HYDROTHERAPY AT OUR FACILITY
Hydrotherapy provided by Animal Wellness Connection, LLC, provides dogs with a venue for therapeutic healing and help maintain overall wellness and health. We want your pet to relax and be comfortable while they are in our facility. We provide a nurturing environment complete with aromatherapy, soft music and gentle soothing handling for confidence and trust.
Here at Animal Wellness Connection we believe it is important that our water therapists are trained in hydrotherapy techniques and that their training is from a recognized and accredited school. Your pet's safety and well being is at stake. Just knowing how to operate equipment is not enough. A good hydro therapist or a veterinarian will be knowledgeable about anatomy and physiology (skeletal structure and muscle makeup) kinetics,
There are hoists and harness that are used in some canine pools. We don't use that here. We believe that the use of hoists and harness can be very frightening to some dogs and prefer more of a hands on approach to water therapy. We always use a gentle approach to water especially when the dog is entering the pool for the first time. We have at least 1 therapists in the water with your dog for each session. This is to help the dog get in the water in a safe manner and to help them gain confidence in the water. We have life preservers on hand with easy access handles to use on our first timers. Once a dog is relaxed and calm in the pool we adjust the safety gear so that we have better access to working with the dogs limbs and muscles in the water. When the dog is in the water we sit with the dog in the pool. For larger dogs, there is access to benches in the pool so the dog can take breaks during their swim time. We don't expect dogs to swim in the first few sessions although most do. We don't allow the dogs to do a frantic swim. A frantic swim or a 'panic swim' is where there is a lot splashing and thrashing on the dog's part. For a proper therapeutic swim, there is no splashing and it is an easy rhythmic movement of the dogs legs to achieve the best therapeutic value of the swim session.
Swimming is good exercise, but we always keep in mind what the dog's energy level is and give them lots of breaks. During the breaks the dog is still in the water receiving the benefits of the warm water therapy. And during the breaks, the dog is sitting on the bench or in our lap and receiving water massage, which is different then the usual land massage. The benefits of hydrotherapy combined with massage have excellent results.
From the first dip in the pool, gradually we work on getting the dog to relax and feel confident moving their legs in the water so that they eventually will swim. Water therapy sessions are for an hour. We spend time in the beginning prepping your pet for the pool, then time in the pool usually is for 30 to 40 minutes. During that time we will swim your dog, take breaks, do some water massage and some doggy watsu. (a combination of water therapy and shiatsu, a type of therapy that involves floating in warm water with the help of a trained therapist who stretches the dog's body while he or she floats.) Remember a 5 minute swim is equal to a 5 minute jog. Then there is time out of the water for land massage and for drying. Our goal is to provide a relaxing and calm environment for your dog. Water has amazing healing powers. Once out of the water, we have spa robes made just for dogs which you may purchase for your dog for their trip home and for future hydrotherapy sessions. Once your dog is home you will find that they drink more then usual and will want to take a long nap. Be sure to provide a quiet place for your dog to enjoy its long nap.