Pet water therapy has become a common practice among many veterinary clinics and pet rehabilitation specialists. Underwater treadmills are helping cats, dogs, and other pets get back into good health. Aquatic therapy is highly beneficial as it uses the therapeutic properties of water to improve range of motion, strengthen muscles, and boost endurance – while reducing the risk of injury. Pet water therapy can help rehabilitate after soft tissue injuries, postoperative fracture care, neurological impairments, osteoarthritis, muscle weakness, geriatric care, weight loss, and postoperative amputee. Pets all over the country are being introduced to hydrotherapy and reaping the benefits of water sports for pets.
Advantages of Walking in Water
Using the thermal effects of water can help dogs, cats, and other pets relax during pet therapy. Warm water has the ability to lessen pain and can make connective tissue flexible, thus allowing better range of motion and deeper stretching. The warmth of the water can also increase blood flow and increase the pet’s motivation, speeding up recovery. Since water aerobics and various forms of water therapy are considered “low-impact,” many pet rehabilitation specialists opt for water rehabilitation.
Pets can enjoy many advantages from underwater treadmills, also referred to as hydro-treadmills. The buoyant properties of water minimize the weight that is bearing on the bones and joints of the dog or cat. The pet therapist may raise or lower the level of water according to how much or little weight is bearing on the pet’s body to return it back to a normal gait pattern. Reducing the weight put on the bones and joints is highly important to increase endurance and strength – while helping the pet lose weight – without putting excess stress on the joints.
Pet water therapy also provides another major benefit. With the help of a water rehabilitation specialist, the speed of the treadmill can be customized to each pet based on the length of the pets’ legs and how much exertion the pet is putting forth. For example, a small breed dog would normally require a slower pace, while faster speeds are better for dogs with longer legs and those advanced in their conditioning – such as with agility or athletic canines. While the size of the pet will help determine the starting speed, the rate of the exercise will be determined by the pets’ specific needs and physical condition.
Getting Started with Pet Therapy
Many pets are initially frightened when introduced to water therapy. As the dog or cat slowly becomes accustomed to pet water rehabilitation, they generally become used to the water and equipment. In most cases, the pet therapist will allow the dog to run or walk on the treadmill inside the tank before filling it with water. Cats require extra special care when participating in water therapy. They require a relaxed, quiet environment and water set between 88 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit. The pet therapist will usually enter the tank first and remain with the cat for the entire duration of the rehabilitation appointment.
Pet rehabilitation is a relatively modern facet of veterinary medicine. Many veterinarians are now offering this service, although your own veterinarian may not yet offer these procedures. Consult with your veterinarian about their use of an underwater treadmill and other hydrotherapy equipment. If your veterinarian believes that your pet could benefit from pet water rehabilitation, they may refer you to an appropriate pet clinic.
Enjoying Therapy Advantages
Underwater treadmill rehabilitation is an effective form of medical treatment for pets. While water therapy can be beneficial to many pets, it is generally not recommended for pets with respiratory or cardiac disease due to the increased resistance which can be stressful on the body. It is also not ideal for pets that have skin sutures from recent surgeries. As with any new form of treatment, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian before undergoing therapy to ensure that your pet is evaluated properly.
For the right pets, water rehabilitation with equipment such as water treadmills can be highly beneficial to your pet. At first, water therapy can be very slow and the dog or cat may become tired easily. With regular exercise, the pet will be able to increase its stride and exercise better without assistance. Many signs of pain will decrease over time and the pet will most likely obtain better health and wellness.