Rocky’s Viewpoint

Rockys Viewpoint

A blog for people who treat their dogs better than family

Hydrotherapy for Dogs with Spinal Issues

In mid-November, Bella, a 10 year old poodle, collapsed after her evening walk. Her owner took her to the emergency vet and they scheduled her for an appointment the following day at the specialty vet’s office in town.

Her owner had no idea what had happened to Bella, but speculated she either fell or jumped off the couch. In hindsight, she also felt that Bella had been developing spinal disc disease for a while prior to the accident.

At the specialty vet, Bella was diagnosed with herniated discs in her lower thoracic and upper lumbar areas of her spine. She had 2 back surgeries, and after 2 weeks of complete rest, the doctor recommended rehabilitation using their underwater treadmill. The surgeon also cautioned the owner that Bella may never walk again, and she should look into getting a wheelchair for her.Bella's hydrotherapy session

At this point, Bella couldn’t even stand. Her owner took her for a few sessions of underwater treadmill therapy but saw no progress. Also, because of the distance and location, it was difficult for her to take Bella to her sessions. In her internet research, she found us.

She began Bella’s twice weekly hydrotherapy sessions just before Christmas.

Now, at the end of January, Bella is beginning to walk again. She has built up her front shoulder and leg muscles so at the very least, she can support herself and walk on those legs. Her hind end is still weak, but is getting stronger each week. She can rise to a stand from a sitting position, and is able to take clumsy steps. We are thrilled with her progress!

The right exercise such as hydrotherapy is a vital piece of the spinal surgery recovery process, but it also helps dogs with other degenerative spinal and neurological conditions such as intervertebral disk disease, degenerative myelopathy, spondylosis, and more.

Hydrotherapy for dogs provides a gentle and comfortable environment for exercise and allows the dog’s body to move weightlessly. Bella standing

This is necessary in situations where land based exercise is not possible. It permits a wide range of flexible movement, so the dog can exercise with full range of motion, and build muscle while minimizing stress on the spine and other joints.

The goal of water therapy for spinal conditions or post-surgery recovery is to either rebuild or maintain muscle strength, flexibility and overall function which will lead to a quicker and more complete recovery. A side benefit is that it also improves cardiovascular and respiratory function.

It’s important however that you find a hydrotherapist who has the proper training and certifications.

Unlike putting your dog in your back yard pool, a hydrotherapist knows how to exercise your dog in water for maximum benefit. This is why Bella is already beginning to walk after only 5 weeks of twice a week swim therapy sessions. As an example, we know if one leg is lagging behind the other in its recovery so we gear the session to work on the weaker leg. And during the recovery process, this will happen.

If you have a dog that can benefit from hydrotherapy, give us a call to schedule a free evaluation.

We are happy to give you our honest opinion whether you dog will benefit. And because our pool is indoors, we can swim year round in every kind of weather. We look forward to helping you help your dog have the best quality of life possible!