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What is Hydrotherapy? Free expert advice in this interview

Have you ever wondered about the swimming exercises at the gym? Today we interview Alison from Doggy Paddle, who explains what kinds of water therapy they do, and how beneficial it is for a dog! I must admit I always thought most dogs could swim, but after our interview, I see how beneficial a quick dip can be, and what to look out for when going swimming. We’ve broken it up into to various questions with some quips from the editor.

What is water therapy for dogs and are there different kinds of water therapy?

Hydrotherapy is the use of water to heal. The different water therapy we offer are:

  1. Spa therapy (The warm water increases circulation and the jets act as a massage. This helps with pain & stiffness.)
  2. Swimming (We have two pools an outside pool for fitness & an indoor warmer pool for more controlled swimming after an injury.)
  3. Underwater treadmill (Walking in warm water improves joint range of motion, stimulates conscious proprioception* and improves fitness)

For the laymens (Ed: like me): Proprioception, from Latin proprius, meaning “one’s own”, “individual”, and capio, capere, to take or grasp, is the sense of the relative position of one’s own parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement. It is sometimes described as the “sixth sense”. Wikipedia

Is swimming good exercise for dogs?

Swimming is very good exercise because the dog is exercising with no impact on its joints. It is a wonderful cardiovascular exercise but should be done correctly as 5min of swimming is like running 8km! It is also a reflex to kick so very beneficial for our neurological patients.

“To a dog: 5min of swimming is like running 8km!”

Ed: I’ve never been swimming, and that’s because it’s never been more than half an hour since I last ate.

What does hydrotherapy do for dogs? (Benefits)

The benefits of hydrotherapy are simple:

  • Weight loss and fitness.
  • Post operative recovery.
  • Post injury recovery.
  • Improvement of joint function for patients with joint problems such as dysplasia and arthritis.
  • Muscle strengthening.

Paul: So by the sound of it, everyone and their dog should be dong hydrotherapy (hint hint).

Ed: Agreed!

How much does dog hydrotherapy cost?

Costs vary according to treatment required. I charge R355 for a consultation. Treatment then costs between R355-R455 depending on what is needed.

Ed: That’s not expensive considering the benefits!

Paul: No it’s not. What about older dogs then?

Is hydrotherapy good for dogs with arthritis? (Or other conditions)

Yes it is. We strengthen the muscles and ligaments with non impact exercise and increase joint range of motion.

How long should a dog continue with hydrotherapy?

It depends on what we are treating… most patients respond well to one treatment a week for five weeks but chronic conditions such as arthritis would then require some sort of maintenance.

Paul: This next question had me scratching my head, dogs who can’t swim?

Ed: Well at least you asked first… Maybe they need a dog life jacket too.

What breeds of dogs cannot swim?

Any breed with legs shorter than body length but all breeds can be taught… Bull dogs etc. are heavy in the water and daxies and bassets are long and can crocodile roll…caution needs to be taken with brachycephalic* patients.

Ed: Eh hum “google what is…” Brachycephalic syndrome is a pathological condition affecting short nosed dogs and cats which can lead to severe respiratory distress. Wikipedia

Paul: So breeds with a “short head” like pugs and Chihuahuas.

Ed: Got it. So what else should we be careful of?

Are there any cautions against a hydrotherapy course? (Contraindications)

The contraindications of hydrotherapy are infection and open wounds… Exercise caution with dogs with heart and or respiratory issues…

Any other info you would like to tell those interested in hydrotherapy?

Doggy Paddle, based in Gauteng, offers rest and rehabilitation for pets recovering from operations/ injuries. We offer day care and rehabilitation. Otherwise we work by appointment and see many dogs with spinal issues, cruciate problems, elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia and many other ailments….  Puppy aqua helps to strengthen muscles and is especially useful with large breed pups. Otherwise it is great for fitness & well being as well.

To get in touch with Alison of Doggy Paddle Hydrotherapy:

TEL: 011 708 6628
FAX: 011 708 6629
Cell: 082 787 2680
EMAIL: [email protected]

207 2nd Road • Chartwell
P.O. Box 806 • Witkoppen • 2068

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