Hydrotherapy involves therapeutic exercise in the form of swimming or walking in water. At Maxvets we have an underwater treadmill that allows dogs and cats to walk in water, as well as a swimming pool for swimming exercises. It is increasingly used in dogs since it is a very effective supplement to many surgical and medical treatments, especially postoperative rehabilitation after orthopedic and neurological conditions as well as for arthritic patients. It is generally carried out by a team of several vets or trained therapists who help to monitor and facilitate the patient’s improvement.
Dogs are natural swimmers unlike cats and, hence, are more likely to enjoy and benefit from hydrotherapy.
Aims of Hydrotherapy
Enhancing preoperative fitness and conditioning (e.g. before a hip replacement)
Completely resolving clinical signs (e.g. after a crucial surgery)
For relieving pain
Increasing fitness of heart and blood vessels
Restoring function postoperatively
As a supplement to obesity management
What You Should Be Aware of?
Only a veterinary surgeon can recommend hydrotherapy for therapeutic reasons which must be preceded by a proper diagnosis.
Hence, it is also important to provide a good case of history including any conditions which may have made hydrotherapy risky.
Hydrotherapists are NOT qualified to assess if any pre existing conditions which might contraindicate hydrotherapy like epilepsy, diarrhoea, etc.
A veterinary consultation and good communication between the vet and the hydrotherapist is essential and should be routinely requested.
Why Is Hydrotherapy Better Than Other Exercises Like Walking?
When your pet moves through water, they are surrounded by water (a fluid) which provides a resistance to gravity. This is the reason an object will sink a lot slower through water than it might do through air. Water supports the pet’s body more easily than air. It helps take the strain off the animal’s body and joints making it a low impact form of exercise.
But we should also keep in mind that hydrotherapy must not be considered as a permanent alternative for regular walking, but as a supplement for it.