Canine hydrotherapy is a relatively new form of rehabilitation that has become more prominent in the past decade or so. Application of hydrotherapy has been around for quite some time in human medicine. There are many benefits of hydrotherapy, specifically a dog underwater treadmill. Exercising in water is effective for improving strength, muscular endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance, range of motion (ROM), agility, and psychological well-being – all while minimizing pain and reducing risk of injury.
Many dogs can benefit in some way from hydrotherapy, but it is most commonly recommended for disabled or arthritic dogs who need exercise but cannot tolerate high impact physical activity. Hydrotherapy helps to assist in the treatment of patients suffering from a variety of conditions and illnesses to include arthritis, pain, paralysis, obesity, and others. The use of hydrotherapy can greatly reduce the amount of recovery time needed for those patients recovering from orthopedic and neurologic surgeries. With hydrotherapy, the water’s buoyant properties help support the patient’s body weight, making exercise low-impact and minimizing pressure on the joints. The water is also warmed to a specific temperature that helps increase circulation to muscles, increase joint flexibility, and decrease pain.
Activity in an underwater treadmill has several advantages over swimming or immersion in water. Walking/trotting on a treadmill mimics an animal’s natural gait, and joint extension is more complete than with swimming. The speed of the treadmill and level of the water can also be controlled to achieve specific goals. Underwater treadmill therapy can be applied earlier on in the recovery period as compared to swimming. It promotes earlier active joint range of motion and strengthening of muscles, which are often key in return to function.