Posts Tagged ‘hydrotherapy’

Swimming vs. Hydrotherapy

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

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Whether it’s the cold, dark depths of winter or the dog days of summer, a dip in the pool can buoy both bodies and spirits!  We all know that recreational swimming is great exercise for dogs.  It is also a fun and social activity for dogs and owners.  Not only that, it allows for a controlled environment that is beneficial both physically and physiologically.

For anyone who has been to a local lake or pond in the late summer months, it is not a surprise that an indoor swimming pool is a cleaner environment.  Lakes and ponds can spread bacteria, giardia and other undesirables to your dog.  Plus there’s no mud to track back to your car, house and your shoes!

The health benefits of recreational swimming are undeniable.  Swimming provides excellent cardiovascular conditioning and helps maintain muscle mass.   Swimming is a great weight control exercise and alleviates stress on the joints so that overweight dogs can get back into the swing of things while reducing risk of injury.

Swimming is an energy outlet, for sure.  A tired dog is a happy dog, and oftentimes a tired dog makes for a happy owner.  As in humans, swimming gets those endorphins going—which is great for overall well-being but it can also be therapeutic for behavioral disorders or for dogs that are just plain bored or tired of being cooped up in the house.

Swimming provides social benefits, as well.  Aerobic exercise can reduce depression in dogs that have exercise restrictions.  Of course, you’ll need approval from your veterinarian before starting a swimming exercise program.  Swimming can also boost confidence and it encourages dogs to learn from other dogs.

Perhaps most importantly, recreational swimming provides an opportunity to build the bond between dog and owner.  It’s a great way to spend time with your dog without distraction.  It’s a time to step away from the daily grind and spend one-on-one time with your pet and serves as a reminder of why pets are so important in our lives.  They give us so much and spending time with them is all they ask of us.

Now that we’ve covered the many benefits of swimming, let’s discuss the difference between swimming and hydrotherapy.  At our facilities, recreational swimming is for healthy dogs that enjoy water and have no physical issues that require supervision and assistance.  Hydrotherapy is utilized on the rehabilitation side to help dogs that have physical issues and, for their safety, require supervision by a rehabilitation therapist.  Our therapists are rehabilitation certified veterinarians, physical therapists and certified veterinary technicians.

The ultimate goal is to graduate the patient to the recreational pool and we release the dog from therapy when they are strong and healthy enough to swim recreationally.

Rehabilitating a dog with water has many benefits. One is decreased weight bearing and non-weight bearing exercise, which reduces pain. In the water, gentle range of motion of all four limbs is accomplished and strengthening is provided by the water resistance. The therapy water is heated to around 84 degrees Fahrenheit which helps to relax the muscles and increase circulation. Hydrotherapy is also used for neurological re-education. There seems to be psychological benefits for the dogs that occurs because they are able to exercise without pain.

Hydrotherapy is used for a variety of reasons including recovery from surgery, chronic conditions such as arthritis, degenerative myelopathy or hip dysplasia, obesity or weight management, or sports conditioning. The benefits of recreational swimming and hydrotherapy are both phenomenal. The important difference between the two is the state of your dog’s physical health. If your dog is generally healthy, by all means, get swimming! Just as with humans, staying active and keeping your muscles strong will help prevent injury in the future.

However, if your dog is injured or otherwise compromised, swimming may not be appropriate and hydrotherapy is necessary for them to get back into the game (or pool). If your dog has been diagnosed as having any of these health conditions, swimming may not be an appropriate form of exercise:

  • Heart disease
  • Respiratory disease
  • Seizure disorders
  • Endocrine diseases
  • Open wounds or infections
  • Fecal incontinence

If your dog has any of these conditions or if your dog is not otherwise in good health, we recommend a rehabilitation exam in order to determine if swimming and/or rehabilitation is best.

The Canine Rehabilitation and Conditioning Group (CRCG) offers year-round swimming 7 days a week at its Englewood and Broomfield locations.  Open and private swim times are available.  Rehabilitation is offered 7 days a week.  Give us a call or visit our website at www.dog-swim.com for more information on our services and find out how you and your canine companion can start making a splash!

How Do We Love Our Pets? Let Us Count The Ways

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

We found this great article in the Denver Post and wanted to share it.

How do we love our pets? Let us count the ways

By Susan Jennings, Digital First Media, Denver Post

denverpostarticle

Being a dog or cat in America these days is nice work if you can get it.

Pet owners spring for gourmet kibble, canine couture and doggy daycare, where their animal companions can spend the day watching Animal Planet while being monitored by webcams for their parent’s viewing pleasure.

According to a Harris Interactive poll, 91% of pet owners say they consider their pet to be a member of the family.

It’s no wonder then that our obsession with our four-legged friends has moved beyond the aisles of the local pet super store and is making us taking a holistic look at their health and quality of life.

Here’s a look at some of the niche services now available to your furry, feathered and scaled friends.

PHYSICAL THERAPY

Whether your cat has developed a limp or your dog is recovering from surgery, now you can enlist the help of physical therapists or veterinarians who’ve received specialized training to help rehabilitate the family pet.

They employ many of the same techniques used on humans (in fact, may of the pet physical therapists out there also work with people) including things like manual therapy, cold laser therapy, sports conditioning and even underwater treadmills.

Physical therapy is one of the fastest growing specialities in veterinary medicine as more vets have started recognizing the benefits of rehab, and schools have begun offering training programs on the subject.

CANINE HYDROTHERAPY

Here’s another example of a practice that has been used to help humans and even injured race horses for centuries now being used for the benefit of dogs.

Hydrotherapy allows animals that are recovering from surgery or soft tissue injuries or suffering from things like osteoarthritis and orthopedic or neurological conditions to improve muscle tone and promote tissue repair without putting unnecessary stress on their bones, tendons and joints. Not to mention, ti’s a great form of general fitness-especially for overweight and obese dogs–improving cardiovascular health and muscle tone.

Think you can just lead your dog to the nearest swimming pool for a dip? Think again.

Hydrotherapy experts say that the type of pool and water you should seek for your pet varies depending on their size and specific needs. Options available include underwater treadmills, hot tubs, and anti-swim jets and pools.

ACUPUNCTURE

Another healing technique from the Far East, acupuncture is part of a family of procedures that uses thin metallic needles to stimulate different anatomical points and is most often used to treat chronic pain.

In China, it’s been used on animals for thousands of years and is becoming more widespread elsewhere, complementing the Western medicine used to treat sick pets and livestock.

Search for an animal acupuncturist in your area by visiting the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture.

PET HOSPICE

Finally, even when you’ve done all you can to rehabilitate and heal an ailing pet, you’ll inevitably be faced with the heart-wrenching decision to let go of your loyal friend.

To help you through this process many veterinarians and specialty clinics are offering hospice care – counseling clients on using medication to make their pets more comfortable and offering euthanasia in the comfort of your home.

The International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care, which was founded in 2009, no has more than 200 members and is growing, according to founder Dr. Amir Shanan, as pet owners are willing to spend more money for peace of mind.

TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS

Responsible pet ownership takes planning and knowledge. The Denver Dumb Friends League is a great resource when it comes to tackling some of the issues that can arise. Visit www.ddfl.org/pdf/behavior-handout

The American Veterinary Medical Association also is an authority on pet health and wellness. Get more information at www.avma.org