Veterinarians recommend Aquatic Exercise and Body Work for dogs with arthritis, degenerative neurological and muscle disease, cruciate ligament tears, pre and post surgical conditioning, increasing range of motion, cardiovascular and muscle strengthening, and more.

Swimming has the benefit of achieving improved muscular strength and tone, while working the cardio-vascular and respiratory systems, without the impact of concussive exercise and the associated damage that it may cause.

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Conditions where dogs would benefit from Hydrotherapy and Swim Conditioning:

  • Pre and Post surgery
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Cruciate Ligament Tear
  • Soft Tissue Damage
  • Fibro-Cartilagenous Embolism
  • Spinal Injuries
  • Elbow and Hip Dysplasia
  • Muscle Spasm
  • Decreased Muscle Mass
  • Neurological Conditions
  • Spondylosis
  • Muscle Spasm
  • Overweight

Because water resistance is greater than air resistance, muscles have to work harder for a similar movement on land. As well, the heart and lungs will have a good work-out as a result.

It may surprise you to know that for a dog, 1 minutes’ swimming is equivalent to about a 4 mile run, according to Dr Arleigh Reynolds, a Veterinary Surgeon and Canine Physiologist.

Swimming can be used as a supplementary form of exercise to improve strength and stamina.

Stronger, toned muscles help to protect dogs against injuries sustained during normal exercise, such as running or chasing a ball, or during more demanding exercise such as agility and flyball.

In healthy dogs, swimming should be used in conjunction with other exercise on land to ensure the dogs’ bones are kept strong by sustaining good bone density.

For dogs with medical conditions that restrict or prohibit concussive exercise, swimming is very important to the dogs overall health and recovery.
For example, in the case of a any orthopedic surgery, it’s important to build up the supporting muscle prior to the operation. However, walking and running are unsuitable forms of exercise, whereas swimming enables supported, non-concussive exercise to build the muscles.

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After surgery, once the site has had an appropriate amount of time to mend (veterinary consultation is a must), swimming provides weightless exercise to improve joint movement, increase circulation and build supporting muscle, where concussive exercise such as walking can possibly cause damage to the newly reconstructed area.

In the case of an overweight dog, it can be difficult to give him/her sufficient exercise on land without over-stressing bones and joints. Swimming provides a form of supported exercise, which will burn calories and improve the metabolic rate.

As with any fitness program, you should expect to start gently and increase the exercise over time. Don’t be surprised if your dog only swims for a few minutes or has a few short bursts to begin with. Gradually, as their fitness improves, they will be able to swim longer with fewer rests.

If the pool water is heated the dogs’ muscles won’t take as long to “warm up” which helps relaxation and assists blood flow. It also helps to reduce muscle spasm and improve the dogs’ range of movement. Not to mention, if your dog is not that fond of swimming, the water temperature will make them more comfortable thereby making swimming much more enjoyable. The more they enjoy it, the harder they tend to work, and the more benefit they get from it.

As with everything you do with animals, remember communication and respect is key.

We all have our “baggage” from life experiences and for our own health should learn to let go of these confines and open up to the possibilities that await.

Animals pick up on the way we are feeling and what we are thinking, so it’s very important to be completely “there” with them.

When we set out to help an animal we must leave our responsibilities and worries behind. Get out of our “heads” and get into our hearts and watch the magic unfold.