The way in which swimming works is, it increases circulation, reduces muscle spasm, and helps to relieve pain.
Swimming your dog can have a very positive effect for them, just like it can for humans. Swimming doesn’t just have to be for rehabilitation purposes, fit and healthy dogs can also swim to build up muscles which lowers the pressure on their joints. This is important as this is often one of the factors that reduce a dog’s mobility later on in their life.
Swimming is a non-weight bearing exercise, and this makes it actually a lot better for the dogs than a regular walk or run, where their joints are put under high pressure.
If your dog does need rehabilitation, then it may be better to find a trained canine hydrotherapy professional who can liaise with your vet prior to commencing the appropriate treatment.
Hydrotherapy is a specific type of physiotherapy treatment that’s done in a swimming pool. Swimming in the pool allows greater comfort for your animal and a range of movement as the water supports body weight. By using the jets, the swimming can be progressed safely using the resistance of the water to strengthen the muscles and improve stability.
Swimming will generally help relieve pain, promote relaxation, mobilise joints, strengthen muscles, develop balance and coordination, and improve general fitness.
The therapeutic benefits of Hydrotherapy and exercise in water are:
- Improvement in swelling, due to hydrostatic pressure.
- Increased muscle strength and endurance due to the greater resistance in water.
- Improved enjoyment and confidence to move better.
- Decreased pain due to support.
- Muscular relaxation and decreased muscle spasm.
- Enhanced balance and stabilisation.
- Gravity is countered by buoyancy.
The way in which swimming works is, its increases circulation, reduces muscle spasm, and helps to relieve pain.
Some of the conditions that can benefit from swimming or canine hydrotherapy include:
- Pre and post operative conditioning
- Relief of pain, swelling and stiffness
- Hip and elbow dysplasia – especially useful for young dogs who are restricted to lead exercise
- Recovering from injuries – including fracture, soft tissue and neurological damage
- Cranial cruciate ligament injuries and post operative recovery
- Muscle strengthening and restoration where muscles atrophy occurs
- DM or CDRM – degenerative myelopathy
- Relaxation of muscle spasms
- Cardiovascular fitness for the heart and lungs
- Spinal injuries
- Weight loss (in conjunction with diet)
- Mobility as your dog gets older
- Osteorthritis – reduced pain and increased mobility
Swimming in conjunction with veterinary treatment can significantly improve the quality and rate of healing following surgery or traumatic injury.
Apart from the swimming for rehabilitation purposes, Quincys ‘Spero’ mobility harness is one other item you should consider. The harness is made up of three parts, a dog harness, a human harness and an adjustable lead that connects from the human harness to the dog harness. The aim is that your shoulders and legs take a small amount off your dogs front or back end, allowing your dog to walk further, and rebuild muscle.
Its very similar to helping a friend who is injured by allowing them to support themselves on your shoulders; in almost the same way, you are helping your dog by offering your support and enabling them to walk.
The aim of the harness is not to totally take the weight off your dog, but simply to take about 30% of the weight off your dog. This allows them to walk further, enjoy exercise, and rebuild muscles.