Hydrotherapy for Dogs

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Hydrotherapy for dogs is a new type of canine physical therapy that is gaining more and more interest, but what is it and how does it work? Keep reading to learn more about the benefits hydrotherapy can have on your dog.

Hydrotherapy for Dogs

Hydrotherapy is a form of physical therapy in which dogs perform therapeutic exercises in water. Hydrotherapy sessions for your dog can include swimming in pools, and exercising on underwater treadmills, says the Small Animal Specialist Hospital. The buoyancy of the water takes weight off of the dog's joints while providing resistance to improve muscle and joint strength, while the water's hydrostatic pressure helps to soothe and ease movement of the joints.

Benefits of Dog Hydrotherapy

Aging dogs with arthritis and joint problems can often benefit from water therapy, says Adelaide Vet, as it engages the joints with minimal pressure, but that's not all this movement therapy can do. It's also helpful for pups of any age recovering from injuries or surgery, as well as those with hip dysplasia, congenital birth defects or paralysis. Hydrotherapy may also help dogs with neurological conditions that impede their balance and coordination.

German Shepherd walking on a treadmill in a pool with human assistance.

Here are some additional benefits that hydrotherapy for dogs may provide:

  • Pain reduction and relief
  • Improved balance and coordination
  • Improved blood flow circulation
  • Increased energy
  • Weight loss and improved fitness

Risks of Dog Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy can benefit dogs of any age, size or breed. However, it's not suitable for every dog. Macarthur Veterinary Group cautions that dogs with ear conditions such as Otitis are not good candidates for hydrotherapy, because their condition could become worse if water gets in the ears. If you suspect your dog might have any type of ear imbalance or infection, it is best to consult your veterinarian before attempting hydrotherapy for your pup. It's also worth noting that sometimes ear issues may appear to look like neurological issues, so your veterinarian can best diagnose your dog and recommend next steps.

How Much Does It Cost?

Dog hydrotherapy is typically conducted at specially equipped facilities by trained professionals, and is not something you should attempt at home without training and supervision. Prices will vary per provider, and typically range between $60-$90 per session. In some cases, if you have a pool of your own, you may be able to find a licensed therapist who will come to your home to conduct sessions, using a specially designed harness to help your dog swim in place.

Choosing a Hydrotherapist

The search to place your dog in hydrotherapy starts by talking to your vet to see whether your dog is a good candidate. If your vet's clinic isn't equipped to provide hydrotherapy, they should be able to refer you to some licensed hydrotherapists or facilities that provide it. Be sure to ask for references, as well as checking customer reviews. If possible, observe therapy sessions with other dogs, and use your best judgment to determine whether a trainer or facility would be a good fit for your dog.

While hydrotherapy for dogs is still fairly new, it's been around long enough to have proven its effectiveness at helping ease their pain and mobility issues. If your pup has a hard time getting around, hydrotherapy might be just the thing to give them back a pep in their step.

Contributor Bio

Jean Marie Bauhaus

Jean Marie Bauhaus

Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.

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