As you may imagine, the word hydrotherapy, derived from it’s early Greek origin, means “water healing,” and it can be just as beneficial for dogs as it is for humans. Because of the buoyancy water offers to the participant, along with resistance, and hydrostatic pressure, this enables the patient to move injured or healing joints, muscles and tendons more freely and with less pain.
It’s also been effective on dogs recovering from being paralyzed and aids with treatment for hip dysplasia. In another instance, used as a form of exercise, dogs who are overweight or obese may have difficulty becoming more active. Hydrotherapy can offer them a way for them to get healthier while reducing the risk of them becoming injured or overheated.
There’s a myriad of different benefits, various treatment options and situations where hydrotherapy can be very helpful for dogs Here’s a list of four important tips when using this valuable method of care:
#1 – Don’t Attempt Without Professional Assistance
There’s a huge difference between taking your dog to a professionally licensed hydrotherapeutic clinic compared to a trip into your backyard pool or a lake, taking them for a swim and calling that hydrotherapy. For example, if they’re recovering from surgery, they may not have the necessary strength to sustain themselves above water. They risk not only drowning, but injuries to the area in need of recovery.
There’s also a risk of infection from a lake or pond to the affected area and the temperature of some swimming pools may not be beneficial for healing. When it comes to buoyancy and stabilization, without adequate supervision, your dog risks further injury and the resulting time spent in the water could do more harm than good.
#2 – Insurance Options
Hydrotherapy offers many benefits, but these treatment options don’t come without costs. If you have pet insurance or are thinking of obtaining a new policy, check with your agent to ensure these costs are covered. In some examples, if your veterinarian recommends this treatment as a part of the surgical recovery process, it could be covered. It’s important to get this referral in writing for this reason.
#3 – Discuss Issues & Health
Be sure to discuss your dog’s overall health and any other issues your pet may have with your canine’s therapist. Although they’ll likely ask anyway, let them know if your dog has difficulty swallowing or breathing, which could put them at increased risk in the water. For example, some breeds of dogs with shorter snouts like pugs, could have BAS (Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome), which makes swimming more challenging and could be dangerous for them.
#4 – Examination
Even if your veterinarian recommended hydrotherapy before a procedure, make sure to have your dog thoroughly examined after the surgery. As it can be the case with humans, canines can have adverse medical reactions to anesthesia that could affect their breathing and heartrate. This way your vet can ensure your pet is able to withstand the cardiovascular workout during these different types of hydrotherapy sessions.
Please follow this tips to ensure both you and your beloved best friend are getting the most out of your hydrotherapy treatments. If you have questions or need assistance, please ask your veterinarian, therapist or clinician, they’ll be happy to help.