There are two types of aquatic therapy we can carry out at Hôpital Vétérinaire de l’Est thanks to our therapeutic bath: walking on the treadmill and swimming.
Aquatic therapy is effective in increasing muscular strength and endurance, cardio-respiratory endurance, amplitude of movement, agility and increases the psychological well-being of the animal. Dogs who have a weakness (be it neurological or muscular) or lack balance can walk more easily in the water and the fear of falling is diminished. Those who are unable to put weight on their members due to joint pain (osteoarthritis, orthopedic surgery) can walk more easily in the water and finally, dogs carrying a lot of extra weight can start with this activity during a weight loss program, which increases their endurance and initiates weight loss without causing stress to the joints.
Aquatic therapy gets its advantages from the characteristics of the water itself, being the temperature, the buoyancy, the hydrostatic pressure and the cohesion/turbulence. The warm temperature allows for a decrease in pain and an increase in blood circulation (vasodilation) in the extremities. The ability to float reduces the weight put on the members. In the case of a surgery, hydrotherapy is very useful for stimulating the animal to walk on his limb (which stimulates the maintenance of muscle mass, accelerates the healing of the orthopedic surgery by avoiding ankyloses and reduces the stress on the implants). Hydrostatic pressure is defined as the pressure of the water exerted on the body. This is beneficial for animals who have problems with circulation or edema in the members. Finally, it is the cohesion (water molecules tend to adhere to each other) that is responsible for the resistance created when the animal tries to move in the water. This resistance increases the muscular force and endurance while increasing the cardio-respiratory endurance.
The indications for aquatic therapy:
- Weight loss;
- Period of convalescence following orthopedic surgeries;
- Chronic wounds of the soft tissues;
- Contractures, scars;
- Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis;
- Fractures (once stabilized);
- Muscular spasms;
- Muscular weakness;
- Neurological problems (during the post-operatory period of a herniated disc for example)
- Cardiac problem (because of the temperature);
- Respiratory problem;
- Animals with reduced thermal sensation;
- All animals suffering from severe peripheral vascular disease;
- When there is danger of bleeding or hemorrhaging;
- When there is the presence of a cutaneous infection;
- When the animal suffers from diarrhea.
A veterinary evaluation should be done to establish a aquatic therapy program that is adequate and personalized for your dog. To improve the wellbeing of your pet, other exercises will be proposed to you depending upon his particular problem.