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Did you know that aqua therapy was first used with horses and racing greyhounds? These animals are constantly exposed to the jarring effects of gravity and hard surfaces, consistently putting extra stress on their bones and joints, causing possible injury. Because of the effectiveness of aqua therapy for these animals, warm water therapy is now routinely recommended by veterinarians and has become a popular form of therapy in many rehabilitation centers throughout the US.
Aqua therapy is an excellent solution to help any dog recovering from surgery, illness or injury, as well as those that are arthritic and geriatric. The exercise stimulates the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems, strengthens muscles, increases flexibility and range of motion, and allows painful joints to move comfortably. It’s been reported that dogs with arthritis, hip or elbow dysplasia, joint pain, cruciate ligament ruptures or bone fractures have made significant improvements thanks to water exercise. Those dogs with neurological damage from spinal injuries or stroke have also demonstrated marked improvements. Soft tissue injuries have been shown to respond well, but it can’t be rushed.
One of our wonderful client’s dog has pretty severe arthritis, as well as muscle atrophy and weakness in her hind legs. She’s been swimming with us for a number of weeks now, and during each swim session we’re specifically working on techniques to maximize the movement in her rear legs and range of motion in her front legs. In a short time, there has been a noticeable improvement in both muscle tone and strength in her hind quarters. Plus, her gait is stronger and more secure. Another client’s dog has torn ACLs in both knees. She has been swimming her dog to help her dog heal, instead of doing surgery. And so far, it’s working! In another example, we’re helping a post surgical dog quickly return to normal activity.
So, is your dog is suffering from arthritis, over seven years old, or experiencing any other painful joint, bone, or muscular condition? If so, warm water aqua therapy will help. Based on subjective observations, veterinarians, trainers, owners, and other pet professionals also agree. Older dogs become more active and agile with greater energy and coordination, arthritic dogs become more active, and those with dysplasia or other joint or bone conditions have an easier time walking and climbing stairs. Ultimately, isn’t that’s what we want for our beloved four legged friends – the gift of health for as long as possible?
As always, please consult with your veterinarian before beginning an exercise program if your dog has any physical or neurological limitations. Just like you, we want your dog to be as healthy as possible so they will live as long as possible. If there’s any way we can help, just let us know!