Is Hydrotherapy Good for a Dog with Arthritis?
So is hydrotherapy good for arthritis? Yes, it's fantastic. I absolutely adore it when owners say, "I'd really like to look into hydrotherapy for my dog." It fulfills many, many different things, not just therapeutic. It is good for the dog because it gets them out. It gets them doing something different. They get a lot of attention. They have an hour of their week where they are the center of attention. It brings the owner out. They get to do something together. Because this is a bond. This is what is happening to the owner and the dog, they bond. So they get to go on an adventure and do something together. So for me, that's really important too.
What to Look for in a HydroTherapy Center
As for actual hydrotherapy, in the right hands, and again, check whether the people that you're using are well qualified, experienced and that their facilities are suitable. I don't want to see anybody lobbing the dog into their local swimming pool. There need to be ramps in and out, the animal needs to be handled with care. They need to have time. They need to be wearing a harness or a flotation device to make sure it's safe. The hydrotherapist should be in the water with them in case the dog needs support. So make sure you're going to a good center, but in the right hands, it can be very powerful because water has some really good properties that help with pain.
The Benefits of Hydrotherapy
The buoyancy of the water will lift that dog's body off of their joints for that period of time, they've not got so much weight going through those joints, and it gives the joints a chance to breathe almost. The compression of the water is really good for distracting the brain about pain. So it's the compression, a bit like a big hug. So that can be really helpful as well. The warmth of the water can help get in blood flow. So you get blood which has healing properties coming to areas of the body that need it, that had been shut down. The movement is easier for those dogs to move in the water.
So they break down all of these adhesions and scar tissues and spasming muscles, and they get to burn a little bit of energy and get some fluid movement. And it's fantastic to see. What you might find is that your dog initially is only capable of doing very short sessions, it might be 30 seconds, maybe on three or four occasions in the hour that they're in the water. That's not a problem. That's great. Your therapist is working to your dog's capabilities. So if you get a chance to try hydrotherapy, take it, it's fantastic.
For additional information about canine arthritis, check out Dr. Capon's work at Canine Arthritis Management.
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