Swimming in a heated indoor pool is an excellent way to teach puppies to swim. This ensures that their first experience with water is not terrifying and that they are comfortable near water. It is a good way to build fitness for all dogs. It creates muscle, improves overall fitness and they use up their energy while still having fun. For dogs who do not get enough exercise in daily life, this is an ideal way to burn off their excess energy (swimming burns more energy than any other form of workout). Older dogs will benefit from increased mobility and the effects of increasing arthritis and other joint-related diseases can slow down. Regular swimming also ensures that the cardiovascular system will improve and the weight remains under control.
The swimming pool is heated to a comfortable 27 degrees Celsius. Swimming takes place in a controlled environment and a therapist is always in the pool. The dogs wear life jackets and there are other accessories available to help keep your dog afloat. When dogs are swimming in a controlled environment it is not always necessary to use a life jacket.
Because swimming does not overtax the joints it is easier for dogs to build up vital muscle mass. This shortens the length of time required for a complete recovery after injury or surgery and ensures no muscle atrophy (muscle mass loss) occurs. Muscular atrophy usually begins 3 days after some form of immobility. Swimming provides a gentle and safe way to rebuild the muscles without putting any undue strain on the joints. In the water, stretching and strengthening exercises are done, with 70% of the weight of the dog being carried by the water, meaning that is far less painful for them. The warm water relaxes the muscles, increases blood circulation to the muscles, maximizes the absorption of oxygen, increases the absorption of nutrients into the body and simultaneously removes toxins from the body.
Swimming in cold water (lakes, rivers, sea, etc.) causes a narrowing of the blood vessels of the skin and the superficial muscles. This causes blood flow to the muscles to be reduced. For healthy dogs that are free of injury swimming in lakes and rivers is ok, but for rehabilitation a heated pool is better.
Hydrotherapy after surgery is started after the sutures have been removed and the wound is completely healed. Your vet will determine the most appropriate time to start with hydrotherapy. Swimming can reduce the recovery time by half. It has already been shown that swimming helps:
- Knee surgery
- Operations of anterior cruciate ligament
- TPLO operations
- Replacement of the full hip
- Amputation of a leg
- Hip dysplasia
- Degenerative Joint Diseases
- Weakened spine
- Neurological disorders
- Early signs of cognitive dysfunction
Hydrotherapy also has the following additional benefits:
- Increased circulation, endurance, flexibility and balance
- Reduction of swelling in joints
- Increased coordination
- Muscle development
- Improvement of cardiovascular system and general condition
- Increased self-confidence
- More energy for older dogs
For weight control, swimming is the ideal form of movement for a dog. Being overweight causes undue stress to the joints, the heart and the lungs. In a swimming pool, this weight is supported by the water while they get a good workout. Ten minutes of intensive swimming with your dog is equal to a 8-mile walk. For dogs that are very overweight it is impossible to walk for a long time and swimming is one of the best ways to get them fit.
Water generally has a calming effect on dogs and lowers the stress level, which will improve many body functions. It helps to stimulate sensory areas in the brain, which improves metabolic functions. The hormones are positively influenced, which helps to regulate different body processes. The lymphatic system will work better thus improving the immune system. Soft tissue is compressed which allows for improved breathing and strengthening of lungs and heart. The kidneys work more efficiently and provide better detoxification. The digestive system will also improve. Due to the improved functioning of all body functions, skin and coat will also become healthier.
Swimming in a swimming pool allows us to apply manual techniques that are not possible in a small jacuzzi or underwater treadmill. Swimming in deep water allows for the combination of greater movements, strengthening and cardiovascular conditioning. Swimming in a swimming pool allows for full use of the legs as opposed to partial movement with underwater treadmills. There is more flexion (bending) and extension (stretching) of the hip and knee when the dog is not in contact with a surface.
The therapist can do different exercises with the dog when they are together in the water. These exercises can be as simple as helping the dog to swim in small circles. Because the therapist guides the dog in a controlled manner in the water, it prevents the dogs from moving too quickly and over doing it. Other methods used by the therapist in the water include increasing resistance (by keeping the dog at bay and swimming on the spot), (therapeutic) massage in the water…
Hydrotherapy provides emotional satisfaction and the dog experiences a wonderful sense of well-being. The release of endorphin contributes to the healing process. The dog’s entire behaviour changes and he will feel well and relaxed. Swimming is not just for injured dogs, for older dogs this can bring a new spark to their lives. Their joints will feel better and they will be more relaxed. In short, there are many benefits for a dog that enjoys hydrotherapy in a heated swimming pool.
Do you want to swim with your dog? Book an appointment with Toscanzahoeve hydro.