What is HydRotheRApy?
The history of hydrotherapy (water therapy) can be traced back to ancient civilizations. There is evidence of hydrotherapy techniques of today that are found among Egyptian, Roman, and Greek records dating back thousands of years. While Hydrotherapy for humans has been around for centuries, canine hydrotherapy is now becoming popular, not only for dogs but other domesticated animals as well.
The healing properties of hydrotherapy are based on its mechanical and/or thermal effects. It makes use of the body’s reaction to he application of heat, to the pressure exerted by the water, and to the sensation of the water itself. Nerves carry what is felt by the skin deeper into the body, where it is then vital in stimulating the immune system, influencing the production of stress hormones, improving circulation and digestion, encouraging the flow of blood, and lessening the body’s sensitivity to pain.
Generally speaking, heat is used to quiet and soothe the body, and to slow down the activity of internal organs. Cold is used to stimulate and invigorate, increasing internal activity within the body. If you are experiencing tense muscles or anxiety, heat is recommended in the shower or bath. For feeling tired and stressed out, it is recommended to take a warm shower or bath followed by a short cold shower to help stimulate the body and mind.
When submerged in a body of water there is a kind of weightlessness, as the water relieves the body of much of the effects of gravity. Water also has a hydrostatic effect and has a massage-like feeling as the water gently kneads the body. Water stimulates the touch receptors on the skin, increasing blood circulation and releasing tight muscles. Hydrotherapy uses the properties of water to make exercise easier. Since the buoyancy of water makes a body seem almost weightless, it provides a supported excercise environment.
What aRe the pROpeRties of water that make hyDrOtheRApy effeCtive?
Surface Tension: Adds resistance to specific muscle groups, Improves balance of unsteady patients, Allows patients greater reaction time, Increases confidence
Buoyancy: Reduces the load on painful joints, Improves core stability, Improves flexibility
Hydrostatic Pressure: Increases metabolic rate and calorie burn, reduces heart rate and arterial pressure, reduces swelling, assists with circulation
Water Temperature: Relaxes muscles and aids comfort, increases circulation, relieves pain
Canine hydrotherapy is administered in a heated indoor pool, specially designed with a ramp to make it easy for dogs to get in and out of the water. A therapist works with the dog in the water, making sure the dog feels safe and secure. We use lifejackets for all dogs for their safety and control of the dog in the water.
If your dog has hip or elbow dysplasia, arthritis, is preparing for or recovering from surgery, or has other health conditions, your veterinarian may recommend hydrotherapy to manage pain and promote healing. If your dog is overweight, a little or a lot, hydrotherapy, along with a healthy diet, is an effective and enjoyable way for your dog to get back to a healthy body condition. Hydrotherapy is excellent for dogs with arthritis, spinal injuries, degenerative myelopathy, obesity and other conditions.
If you have an older dog, who has gotten a little stiff and not moving around as well, hydrotherapy can help him get the exercise he needs without stressing his joints. Hydrotherapy provides a great cardiovascular workout and muscle strengthening for our canine athletes to help them stay in peak condition.
Always consult your Veterinarian before starting hydrotherapy on your dog(s) or other pet. This allows the Hydrotherapist to have a complete health picture and a working relationship with your Veterinarian for the better health of your pet.