Small or companion animal hydrotherapy is directed at the treatment of chronic conditions, post-operative recovery, joint surgery, neurologic conditions, or any other conditions or disorders where the dog is reluctant to use the limb or where there is a lack of strength, balance and proprioception. Water provides a complete or semi-weightless environment for dogs and cats to exercise in.

Several conditions may be aggravated by or may show slow or no improvement as a result of weight bearing exercise. Among these are conditions such as hip-and-elbow dysplasia, luxation patella,  osteoarthritis, degenerative disease of the spinal cord or intervertebral disc disease.  Injuries to the cruciate ligament or other ligaments may make post-operative weight-bearing exercise in dogs problematic. Obese dogs, while requiring exercise, may aggravate existing conditions or injure themselves due to the weight exerted on their joints if walked normally.

Research has shown that exercising in water, is effective for improving strength, ROM, agility, and psychological well-being, while minimising pain.

One of the most prominent features of hydrotherapy is keeping our canine athletes in top condition. The benefits include strength training, toning, and building muscles, development of stamina, muscular and cardio-respiratory endurance, overall mobility, agility and fitness.

Hydrotherapy is possibly the most valuable component of any rehabilitation program. To have a clear understanding and appreciation of the specific principles of water and how it provides unique benefits to the patient, makes this the ultimate modality for recovery. The properties of water include:

  • Relative density
  • Buoyancy
  • Hydrostatic Pressure
  • Viscosity and Resistance
  • Surface Tension
  • Water temperature

Click the video button to see the
Underwater Treadmill (UWT) in action

In addition to this, the swimming stroke comes naturally to most dogs and it is enjoyable.

Puppy Aquatic Stimulation Swimming is a non-impact exercise and promotes strengthening of the muscles while limiting mechanical stresses (and therefore damage) through the joint. This enables the muscular system to ‘catch up’ with the development of the skeletal system that can strengthen muscles to support your puppies’ fast growing skeleton. Musculoskeletal problems that develop during a puppy’s growth usually occur when the skeleton develops faster than the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, and ligaments). As a result, the muscles and ligaments are not able to support the joint properly, and the joint becomes unstable and prone to damage. Puppy Aqua is also an ideal method to condition your puppy without adding any additional stress to its immature skeleton.

At Paws-itive Paws-abilities Hydrotherapy takes place in three different centres – the Spa Bath, Underwater Treadmill (UWT) and Hydro Pool, and can be used as entities on its own or in combinations with one another. In our Hydro Practice, we cater for all companion animals as well as a variety of other species.

Spa Bath

Soaking in a hot spa can have many health benefits. The word spa is an acronym for the Latin “salus per aquam” meaning “health from water”.

When the body absorbs heat, several physiological processes occur. As the body warms up, blood flow increases, and blood pressure is subsequently reduced. It also promotes muscle relaxation and while the body is soaking in the spa, the blood circulation returns deep within the body at a warmer temperature than before, delivering therapeutic heat where other treatments cannot. It also brings about temporary pain relief. 

Underwater Treadmill (UWT)

Exercise in the UWT allows for active ROM using the warmth, buoyancy, and resistance of the water. It is also a safe, controlled environment with no risk of injury. Dogs move in a walking or jogging gait pattern and joint kinetics are more complete than with swimming.

The water resistance increases the activity of muscles during the swing phase of gait. Warmer water increases circulation, caloric expenditure, nerve conduction velocity, improves co-ordination and increases soft-tissue elasticity and reduces pain.

Most dogs who have had joint surgery such as Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) stabilization, Femoral Head and Neck Excisions (FHE), Intervertebral Disc Extrusions (IVDD) or who suffer from Obesity, Dysplasia (HD & ED) and Osteoarthritis (OA) generally perform very well in the UWT.

In the UWT, the therapist controls the water temperature, water level (depending on the point of surgery or trauma), the speed and distance and the treadmill inclination or descent.

Hydro Pool

Advantages of exercising in a hydro pool is that the patient is completely non-weight bearing and the thoracic and lumbar spines are suspended in a neutral position by water buoyancy.  This reduces the risk of injury and eliminates almost all joint concussive forces.

Again, the warm water will have a major impact on the rehabilitation. Warming of the tissues and increased metabolic demand by way of swimming may also stimulate the release of endorphins and enkephalins that contribute to improving mood, relaxing muscles, and managing pain.

Conditions that benefit from swimming in the hydro pool include neurological conditions such as degenerative myelopathy, fibrocartilaginous embolism, and spinal cord injuries. Most orthopedic conditions, OA and patients that are overweight will benefit from swimming.

Puppy Aqua Classes

Alongside our Puppy Socialization classes we also offer Puppy Aqua Classes. These classes allow puppies to get accustomed to and get comfortable in the water and water environments. These are extra classes that can be very valuable to your puppy’s development and awareness around water.

Hydrotherapy Pawtraits

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