All things Hydrotherapy
An introduction to Hydrotherapy.... what exactly is it and why should my dog be attending?
So you teach dogs how to swim? 'ha ha, no there is a bit more to it than that' I would say to the person staring blankly at me, after asking what I do for a living. Hydrotherapy has been around since Ancient Greek times, documented by Hippocrates as Hydropathy. It was also used by Ancient chinese, Roman and Egyptian civilizations. Today it is used by both humans and animals as a form of rehabilitation and conditioning. The basic principles of Hydrotherapy are based on the 5 scientifically proven properties of water. These are:
The depth of the water can be used to create buoyancy which helps to encourage animals that may be reluctant to weight bear on dry land due to illness or injury and allows them to exercise with minimal stress on their joints. The warmth of the water (30 degrees celsius) can help relieve muscle soreness and joint pain. Additionally, we can easily alter the treadmill speed and incline angle in order to promote specific types of movement to further aid recovery or general fitness. Alongside the advantages of a treadmill, the resistance of the water helps to increase muscle bulk, and the viscosity that's enhanced when moving through the water also aids strength. Hydrostatic pressure works wonders for aiding circulation, encouraging oxygen in the blood to be deposited to the tissues as well as removal of waste and toxins that build up around areas of inflammation.
Even if you or your dog were to stand in water for a period of time, the relief you get from only partially weight bearing is lovely, just like when you put your feet up after a long day. So imagine how it must feel to be able to exercise in a safe, warm environment on joints that are usually painful. Commonly treated conditions include Hip & Elbow Dysplasia, Cruciate Injury, Patella Luxation, Spinal & Disc Disease, Fractures & Dislocations and Muscle Injury to name but a few! The benefits are tremendous and can often be seen in just a couple of sessions, particularly for older dogs:
Improved joint range of motion and mobility
Increase in muscle mass and tone
Reduction of swelling and stiffness
Improved cardiovascular performance
Increased blood flow to the tissues increases flexibility
Re-education of gait patterns
Improved quality of life
Hydrotherapy not only aids those pets that are suffering with diagnosed orthopaedic conditions or post-surgical cases, it also helps those who compete in flyball, agility, canicross and much more. It is the perfect conditioning tool to keep your dog super fit, well muscled, mobile and most importantly is a great way to try and prevent injury! My next blog will be on commonly asked questions about Hydrotherapy, if you have any questions you would like me to answer, post your comments below and I will be sure to include them!