Rehabilitation to Help Joint pain

There are many reasons to get your dog into rehabilitation. We wanted to raise awareness for some of these reasons, so we are highlighting several of them for you here!

The Davies Veterinarian Specialists are advocates for hydrotherapy for our pets.

Many of us might wonder if there is actual evidence proving that there are benefits of hydrotherapy for our dogs.

The Davies Veterinarian Specialists state that indeed there is!

Photo from North Shore Vet

“Evidence based benefits of hydrotherapy indicate that it:

  1. Removes pressure from the joints which improves range of motion
  2. Reduces inflammation
  3. Helps to increase blood circulation
  4. Increases muscle mass
  5. Improves stamina and strength in a controlled environment
  6. Provides cardiovascular fitness
  7. Provides mental stimulation

Additional benefits for the underwater treadmill include:

  1. Allowing the water level to be adjusted to suit the needs of the patient
  2. Increases proprioception from having contact with the treadmill belt
  3. Helps to re-educate gait
  4. Can alter the speed which is important in rehabilitation
  5. Increases muscle mass due to a degree of weight going through the limbs
  6. Encourages equal weight bearing
  7. Allows for more controlled movement, which is important after surgery
  8. Dogs often feel more relaxed when they can touch the floor so are less likely to panic.”

Underwater Treadmill: Rehabilitation

An underwater treadmill is a treadmill that is enclosed and then filled up with water, somewhat resembling a tank of water for your dog.

Christina Fuoco, VMD, of WAG: Whole Animal Gym in Pennsylvania explains that the speed at which dogs walk once the water is filled up depends on the needs of the dog.

“A pet rehabilitating from spinal surgery may only walk at 0.5mph,” Fuoco says of the varying speeds of the equipment. “A fit dog who is trying to improve their conditioning, may run at 2.5mph.” The resistance provided by the water greatly increases the benefits of exercising even at these relatively slow speeds.

Here you can see a patient at the Broomfield Rehabilitation Canine Center in Colorado, named Millie. Millie has had surgery on both of her back limbs and is needing to strengthen them with the help of her therapist.

We’re rooting for you Millie!


 Water Therapy: Rehabilitation

“Water therapy is beneficial in a variety of different areas,” explains Dr. Jonathan Block, DVM, of Water4Dogs Canine Rehabilitation Center in New York. 

“From a preventative perspective, hydrotherapy is good for fitness, body condition, and a great source of aerobic exercise that is low impact on the bones and joints. It is a great tool to help your dog stay in optimal shape.”

However, not only does water therapy benefit dogs who are working for fitness, it also can benefit dogs who are recovering from injury or trying to strengthen their joints.

In this video Hank, the tripod, is a patient at the Broomfield Canine Rehabilitation Center in Colorado. Here in this video Hank is working with his therapist on strengthening his legs because he often compensates due to being a tripod and having to bear so much extra weight on his single front leg.

We think Hank is doing a fantastic job!

Water therapy for dogs
Photo from the AKC 

Overall, water therapy and rehabilitation can provide an abundance of benefits for your dog including:

  1. Surgery: If your dog has had surgery, rehabilitation will help your dog strengthen their muscles and joints and get back to their regular mobility
  2. Pain: Remember that our dogs cannot communicate the same way that humans do. If you feel your dog is showing signs of pain, rehabilitation is a wonderful and noninvasive way of allowing them to work through their pain and get to a pain-free life.
  3. Arthritis: Canine arthritis is a painful disease that causes swelling in the joints. Joint disease can cause a dog to be less mobile and lose quality of life quickly. While no cure exists, rehabilitation can help drastically reduce the symptoms.

Does your dog have any of the above issues happening in their life? If so, you may consider getting them involved in rehabilitation!

We are grateful for this information and we are so glad that technology like the underwater treadmill exists for our pets! Thank you Davies Veterinarian SpecialistsBroomfield Rehabilitation Canine CenterWater4Dogs Canine Rehabilitation Center and WAG: Whole Animal Gym for paving the way for this science!


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