This involves the use of movement in water to relieve discomfort and promote physical wellbeing. Hydrotherapy is suitable for dogs of all shapes and sizes, and is beneficial in recovery from injury, or for chronic conditions such as arthritis and for weight loss.
Our hydrotherapy pool and underwater treadmill are set up specifically for patients’ comfort and safety. The quality of the water is the same as that for humans. The water is kept at 29-30 degrees to ensure maximum benefit to the patient and is constantly filtered day and night.
The underwater treadmill is generally used for gait re-education following an injury or for more controlled exercise post-operatively, whereas the pool is used for complete non-weight bearing exercise and is beneficial for dogs with arthritis of multiple joints or overweight dogs. The pool is alsoused for strengthening as the team can exercise patients in various directions, whereas exercise in the underwater treadmill is always performed in a straight line.
Our hydrotherapists fit a harness or floatation coat to each patient and will stay in the water with thepatient throughout their session to enable full control and provide reassurance.
Patients access the water via a gently sloping ramp. One of our physiotherapists or hydrotherapists stays in the water with the patient for the duration of their swim, we find this gives the patient more confidence, enables us to facilitate better movement and allows them to be removed from the pool quickly in an emergency. The pool can be accessed from all sides for safety. For additional safety, non-slip flooring is fitted all around the pool area.
While swimming, the patient is not bearing any weight on their joints allowing them free movement without the pressure of weight bearing. The warmth of the water improves circulation while the pressure of the water can reduce swelling.
Actual swimming time will depend upon the injury and fitness of the patient, normally the first time a patient swims will vary between 2-5 minutes, gradually increasing over visits up to a maximum of 20 minutes. The length of the session depends on the patients’ medical condition, needs and ability. We are always guided by the specific needs and limitations of the patient.
An underwater treadmill is a treadmill enclosed in a glass surround that can have varying depths of water in it to allow the patient to walk at varying speeds in water. This means that the patient is loading some of their body weight onto their limbs but as the height of the water increases, the amount of weight on their limbs decreases, therefore minimising the load on the tissues. The resistance of the water promotes strengthening and the height of the water can be altered to improve the range of motion of specific joints. The water is warm and therefore, this improves circulation while the pressure of the water can reduce swelling.
A therapist will stay in the treadmill tank with the patient until they are confident and strong enough to walk without support or need for intervention.
It is much harder work walking in water than on land so the total walking time can vary from a coupleof minutes to 10 minutes.