Considerations in Water Treadmill for Dogs
Physical therapy offers a wide range of benefits to people, and it can be highly effective for your dog as well. If you're looking for alternative therapies to benefit your dog, whether they have a specific condition that needs treatment, or you want to help your dog get in the best possible physical condition they can be in, water treadmill for dogs can be the ideal solution.
Here's what you need to know about what water treadmill for dogs is and how it may be able to benefit your dog.
What is Water Treadmill for Dogs?
Humans have been capitalizing on the benefits of water therapy for thousands of years. However, water treadmill for dogs is much more recent. Dog hydrotherapy followed equine hydrotherapy.
The benefits of having horses wade through water were discovered by the horse racing industry, which found that muscles could be conditioned and strengthened without stressing the joints. The practice was quickly adopted by the greyhound racing industry, and from there, household pet dogs were also given the opportunity for canine water treadmill. Water treadmill is great for physically conditioning athletic dogs and also for recovery from a wide range of injuries and illnesses.
Water treadmill for dogs involves having dogs walk along a treadmill that has a specific height of water over it. The water level is adjusted depending on the size of the dog and the amount of resistance that is desired. As a dog strengthens their muscles and can handle more weight on their joints, the water can gradually be made more shallow.
This exercise demands a special treadmill machine designed specifically for dogs doing hydrotherapy. It isn't something that most veterinarians have, but well-equipped, high-quality canine rehabilitation veterinarians are very likely to have one or more of these treadmills.
What type of conditions can benefit from a water treadmill?
Water treadmill can help a wide range of dogs and conditions. Here are just a few of the situations in which it can be beneficial:
Dogs suffering from neurological issues often have trouble placing their feet, particularly the hind legs. Water treadmill for dogs with these conditions enables them to learn how to place their feet gradually without placing strain on the joints. The water also prevents dogs from stumbling and falling. As dogs develop greater control of their limbs, the water level can be decreased.
A ruptured ACL is the most common knee injury dogs can have. If your dog suddenly goes lame in a hind limb, it is likely to be assumed that they have had a ruptured cruciate. Surgery is often recommended to correct the cruciate ligament, however hydrotherapy for dogs with a cruciate tear or ruptured cruciate can also be effective. Water treadmill for dogs with an ACL injury can be useful after surgery or instead of surgery.
Water treadmill for dogs with all sorts of different orthopedic injuries can be highly effective. One of the key elements in improving an orthopedic problem is strengthening the muscles that support the bone so that the bone will take less strain. Water treadmill is the perfect way to strengthen the muscles without putting stress on the bones.
Arthritis and Muscle Atrophy
Older dogs stand to benefit considerably from water treadmill. It's an excellent way to build atrophied muscles and condition the muscles supporting limbs that have arthritis.
It also enables a full range of motion that keeps dogs who are suffering from arthritis from developing a secondary condition. Whether muscle atrophy is a result of arthritis, caused by a metabolic condition like diabetes or Cushing's, or resulting from something else, water treadmill can be extremely useful.
Being overweight can result in serious health conditions for dogs. Even a few extra pounds can put a lot of strain on the joints, making joint issues much more likely. Being overweight can also result in the development of conditions like diabetes.
Exercise is a great way to help your dog lose weight, but if your dog is very overweight, exercise can put strain on the joints and result in the very problems you're trying to prevent. Water treadmill for dogs that need to lose a few pounds or a lot of weight is a great way to help them exercise, build muscle mass, and lose weight without straining the joints.
Water treadmill for dogs was originally developed to help canine athletes become better at what they do, so it should come as no surprise that it is very effective for dog athletes. Water therapy can help dogs build muscle safely, which can prepare them for all kinds of sports and activities.
Not only can it strengthen muscles while reducing impact, but it can also increase cardiovascular output, which results in better stamina. In fact, trotting on an underwater treadmill at elbow height for about two miles offers as much exercise as running as many as four miles without water. Whether you have a dog involved in canine sports or a working dog that needs to be in top physical condition for what they do, water treadmill can be a superb solution.
Benefits for dogs over other kinds of hydrotherapy
Wading in shallow water and swimming have extensive benefits for all kinds of dogs and conditions. However, there are some good reasons to choose water treadmill over other kinds of water therapy like wading or swimming.
Swimming is not the same movement for dogs as walking or running, which means that swimming won't strengthen muscles needed for walking or running like wading will. It is nearly impossible to find the exact right depth for a dog to wade and control the speed accurately in the way that can be accomplished with a water treadmill.
With a water treadmill, the depth of the water and the speed at which the dog moves can be precisely adjusted over the course of a dog's therapy or in a single therapy session, depending on what is needed. Furthermore, there is no concern of the dog getting away from the handler and over-exerting themselves or going under the water, as there may be when a dog is free-swimming or wading in shallow water.
With a water treadmill, support can be given across the dog's body and the head can be assisted with flotation devices to ensure that there is no risk of the dog slipping under the water. If you want to provide healthy exercise to your dog at home, swimming in a pool or wading at the beach or lake are great options. However, for targeted, highly effective therapy, it's impossible to beat a water treadmill for dogs.
How do dogs feel about being on a water treadmill?
At first glance, being on a water treadmill for dogs may seem a bit unnatural or forced. You may assume that your dog won’t appreciate this kind of activity. However, in reality, most dogs take to water treadmill very readily.
Unlike swimming, which requires distinct muscle groups and a completely different motion than walking or running and which some dogs may be afraid of because of the risk of slipping underwater, water treadmill feels very similar to dogs as walking or trotting on land.
Because the handler can stay right with the dog providing motivation like a tasty treat, dogs typically feel confident and comfortable when on the water treadmill. At first, it may take your dog some time to get used to this new activity, but after a few sessions, you'll likely find that your dog actively looks forward to going on the water treadmill. In fact, since it really does make dogs feel better, many dogs enjoy the water treadmill without any other form of motivation than just being able to enjoy the machine.
What to Look for When Seeking Out Water Treadmill Therapy for Your Dog
- A nearby location. To be effective, water treadmill typically needs to be performed regularly. At least every other week or every week is usually ideal. Therefore, you want a therapy center that is close enough to visit regularly.
- Veterinarians on staff. It may be possible to find water treadmill offered by a canine physical therapy center that doesn’t have veterinarians on staff, but to be sure that therapy is doing what it should be and not causing any harm, you want to find a center that has a veterinarian on staff.
- Other therapies. Water treadmill is an awesome therapy that can provide a wide range of benefits to your dog. However, it can often be supplemented by additional physical therapies for even greater benefits, so it's best to choose a therapy center that offers additional therapies as well.
Finding a Water Treadmill Near Me
If you believe that your dog could benefit from a water treadmill, get in touch with OKC Vet Campus. Our highly-qualified veterinarians are trained in providing a wide range of physical therapies, including water treadmill for dogs. We can discuss your dog's needs, whether they need physical therapy for an injury or illness or whether your canine athlete needs the best possible conditioning.