Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hydrotherapy for Pets

I'm sorry for the delay in my postings; things have been hectic due to a early season snow storm! Today's topic is Hydrotherapy for pets. Dogs, cats and horses now benefit from this unique water treatment. Hydrotherapy utilizes the properties of water, like buoyancy, pressure, viscosity and resistance to improve the body's functions. Pools and treadmills are common treatment options for pets. There have been documented cases of hydrotherapy in animals since the 19th century. Conditions treated by hydrotherapy can be divided into four general categories: post-operative, pre-operative, chronic conditions and fitness (for those of us who need to lose a few pounds!!). While in the water the pet will feel a lower level of gravity forced on the body. This then produces decreased weight bearing on any problem areas and results in decreased pain perception. This specifically helps animals with weak muscles, stiff/swollen joints or poor range of motion. The buoyancy and warm temperature of the water increase flexibility, improve circulation and ease pain. The combined effect is greater mental security and a willingness to perform exercises. We have a hydrotherapy pool at the shelter and it does help dogs with numerous medical issues to feel overall better, and get their exercise in no matter their medical issue. Just like people, pets need to be treated with those who are skilled in this area. These people are usually called Animal Rehabilitation Therapists, or ARTs. Hydrotherapy is also most successful with a series of sessions to help the body become used to the new form of exercise. A great end result is the building of muscle mass for the pet, which can help to strengthen the overall body. With any medical treatment, please consult your vet before taking action. This alternative treatment may be the perfect fit for both you and your pet!