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Arthritis Pain in Dogs - Hydrotherapy Drowns it


Arthritis Pain in Dogs - Hydrotherapy Drowns it

Hydrotherapy has become a common practice for people suffering from arthritis, however in recent years, veterinarians and trained professionals have been practicing this procedure on animals.  Hydrotherapy was first introduced into the animal world to rehabilitate race horses and greyhound dogs.  The therapy had such a profound effect on their renewed performance, that it is now widely available to us pet parents.  One in five dogs are affected by arthritis; an inflammation of the joints and a loss of cartilage.  The hip and knees are the most commonly affected areas and can cause extreme pain. Hydrotherapy offers your pet a way to release the pain in a safe and effective way.  Hydrotherapy should be exercised only after a consultation with your vet. 

The buoyancy of water creates a feeling of weightlessness for your dog.  Warm water is used in the pool, usually 80 to 100 degrees, to promote increased blood flow to the damaged areas and fluidity to the muscles and joints.  The water encourages a full range of motion that may be unattainable for your dog on land.  Hydrotherapy may not only help to lessen pain, increase range of motion, and add muscle tone but could increase cardiovascular health as well.  The resistance the water creates, limits the pace of the movement while increasing the effect.  For example, one minute of swimming is equivalent to running a mile on the ground. 

There are two types of hydrotherapies commonly practiced to aid in the fight against arthritis in your dog.  One utilizes an underwater treadmill located at the bottom of the pool.  Many practitioners prefer this method, where your dog walks through the resistance of the water.  This method seems to ease the direct stress on the hips.  Also, many dogs do not like swimming because they cannot feel their feet touching the ground.  They may be more comfortable with this approach.  The other method encourages the dog to swim through a current.  It challenges your pet’s endurance and it is an entire body workout.  Hydrotherapy can be used short term, perhaps after surgery, but may need to be performed long-term for arthritic pets.  Hydrotherapy has been found to increase the emotional state of dogs.  Your pet may leave the water happier and healthier.

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