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Hydrotherapy For Rehab and Conditioning.

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

Recently we have been lucky enough to have a hydrotherapy - underwater treadmill open up locally in Lara at Rosewood Farm Group Pty Ltd and I thought I'd take a moment or two just to fill you in on how great this can be for our canine pals. Hydrotherapy can play a vital role in rehabilitation and conditioning and works wonderfully well when combined with regular massage.

Just to admit self interest here - I have been running the hydrotherapy on Fridays for Stephen and Iming while the talented hydrotherapist Rebecca Cutler and Michael Yeo of Cradle - holistic canine natural therapies have been running the Saturday and Wednesday respectively.

Hydrotherapy simply means "therapy in water". It is one of the oldest forms of rehabilitation and is now becoming increasingly popular for the rehabilitation and care of dogs. It takes advantage of the buoyancy provided by water reducing the amount of weight bearing on limbs and the viscosity of the water making movement slower and more supported which is beneficial for improving balance and building muscle through resistance.

There are two types of hydrotherapy - Underwater treadmill and Swimming.

At the moment Rosewood only has the underwater treadmill up and running but they have big plans for adding a pool later in the year.

An underwater treadmill is a land base treadmill in a tank of warm water - the warmth of the water helps the muscles to relax, so comfort increases, joints loosen and movement is overall much easier than on land. Sessions are usually short with rest periods in between - particularly to begin with as walking through chest deep water is very tiring and the good news is you don't have to exercise your dog on hydrotherapy days (in fact you shouldn't, as they will be completely worn out afterwards)

Benefits Of The Underwater Treadmill

  • Ease of movement of painful of healing structures

  • Improved weight bearing on land

  • Gait re-education following spinal or neurological injury or disease

  • Prevention of muscle atrophy (wastage)

  • Accelerated muscle strengthening

  • Faster return to previous function following injury or surgery

  • Improved joint range of motion

  • Balance re-training

  • Maintaining and prolonging mobility of senior pets

  • Conditioning for sport and show ring

  • Weight loss

The video is of Korben in the treadmill at Rosewood Farm. A lot of dogs can be nervous of going into a glass tank and when the water starts filling up it can be daunting but most adjust very quickly and seem to even look forward to it. Both my dogs get excited when we go there and are eager to get into the tank now (could have something to do with the treats ... maybe.. haha). Korben is a bit lazier than Leeloo and will try and slack off if he thinks he can get away with it but we have been building duration steadily in the few weeks they have been going and they are both easily doing three sessions of 4.5 minutes with 2 minutes rest in between. Our goal is to build up to a straight 15 minute session for conditioning purposes but gradual increase is much better for the dog than trying to do too much too soon.

Types of Conditions that Benefit from Hydrotherapy - Orthopedic

  • Cruciate surgery or injury

  • medial patella luxation surgery or conservative management

  • Elbow dysplasia - conservative management, post surgical management, arthritis management

  • Hip dysplasia - conservative management, post surgical management, arthritis management

  • Shoulder instability

  • Fracture repair

  • Arthritis

  • Spondylosis

  • Polyarthritis

  • Limb amputation

  • Ligament repair

  • Arthrodesis

  • Senior pets with weakness, poor mobility

Types of Conditions that Benefit from Hydrotherapy - Neurological

  • IVDD - surgical or conservative management

  • FCE

  • Degenerative myelopathy

  • Polyradiculoneuritis

  • Polyneuropathy

  • Wobblers

  • Degenerative neurological conditions

  • Brachial plexus injury

Any of the above conditions require a veterinary referral before commencing hydrotherapy and you will be required to have the vet notes provided to Rosewood. If however you have a perfectly healthy dog or one with no underlying issues but could do to lose weight you can book straight in and get your dog fit in no time.

If you have any questions about hydrotherapy or your dog has tried hydrotherapy before please feel free to comment below and let me know your experiences.

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