Canines and humans often acquire similar health problems, some of these issues are those in which walking becomes problematic. Recovering from trauma, even as simple as a broken leg, can prevent a dog from exercising properly. Thankfully for the animal, hydrotherapy has become a popular method of treatment, enabling the victim to exercise even with debilitating injuries.
Hydrotherapy has a long history: it has been used for humans since ancient times, with formalization of its procedures attempted in the 18th century. It was found that horses benefited from cold-water treatment in the sea, and inventors interested in financial renumeration sought and found a way to replicate the treatment. A similar treatment was found for greyhounds, and from there treatment was extended to dogs. Today hydrotherapy has been modified, most notably that the water has been warmed up, and it used to help dogs recover from injuries that would otherwise keep the dog from exercising.
Although there are some exercises for dogs, they are in the same modified pool. The swimming pool is smaller than that used for humans, usually with a ramp so that the animal may walk into the pool or a hoist to help the animal in and out of the pool. The pool is also heated; as opposed to a horse, which benefits to cold water as a preventative measure against over-heating, heated water helps its muscles do better. Some pools also have a harness built into them to help a dog hold its position in the water. Throw in chlorination or other purification system, and the dog’s hydrotherapy pool is actually a reasonably complicated therapy tool.
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Hydrotherapy can help dogs with a number of different conditions. Dogs with degenerative conditions cannot deal with a lot of pressure on their joints, sometimes to the point where even walking on their legs can cause damage; this allows the dog to get in some exercise without putting pressure on their bones. Pets with congenital disorders can also benefit; as some surgeries are only available for mature animals, this allows the dog to build up its strength for the surgery until it is mature enough for the operation. This is also a great for obese breeds that are otherwise unable to exercise to get the exercise that they need.
This is mostly used for dogs preparing and recovering from surgery. The most basic use is to allow a dog an exercise regimen to build up or maintain strength until the operation occurs, and then for the dog to recover its strength without pressure after the surgery. Dogs with spinal injuries or surgeries that affect motor functions can benefit especially from hydrotherapy, as the water allows them movement without pressure on the spine and allows them some semblance of free movement.
Most exercises for dogs involve walking or swimming, with some variants. The animal enters the pool either through use of a ramp or a hoist and is allowed some movement in the pool. He is then allowed to exercise for either a set period of time or until fatigue sets in. The pool usually contains jets so that the exercise can be made harder on the animal, allowing the therapist to better control the degree of exercise and to better challenge the animal. By controlling the flow of the water and duration of the dog’s time in the water, the therapist is better able to ensure that your pal gets the amount of exercise that it requires.
Walking is simply allowing the animal to walk in the pool, usually on a treadmill. Due to the water the animal walks almost weightlessly, as the water buoys the animal up. Should the therapist decide that the animal requires additional effort, he can choose to simulate an uphill climb by increasing the pressure of the jets. By combining periods of jets under various forces, the therapist can allow the animal a variety of different exercises with the same exercise equipment.
Swimming is the other major exercise in hydrotherapy; the hoist sees a lot of use in this exercise, forcing the animal to swim in a particular direction and to maintain its position in the pool. Again, by use of the pool’s jets the difficulty of the exercise can be increased, providing maximum quality of exercise for the animal. Again, thanks to the buoyancy of the water, the animal is able to exercise with pressure on its joints and the hoist is usually padded enough so as to provide just enough pressure to keep the animal positioned in the center of the pool; between the two the animal is able to exercise safely.
By using the hydrotherapy it is possible to give humans and pets alike, a better chance to recover from a wide variety of diseases and injuries. It is a relatively simply concept, and is easily enough implemented. All it requires is a pool made for dogs, and patience on the part of the therapist. As the therapy takes advantage of a dog’s natural love of water, it is one that most dogs have no problems with and actually enjoy, allowing the therapist to continue sessions for as long as needed. As every thought has been given to the pup’s comfort, this is a great way for dogs to get the exercise they need when they would otherwise be taken out of action.