Underwater treadmills (pet hydrotherapy) are an important treatment modality used by our SAGE Physical Rehabilitation department. As water provides both resistance and buoyancy, it can be a great treatment option for pets recovering from injury or those who are suffering from pain.
As pets age or suffer injuries, it can become more and more difficult for pets to participate in normal activities like walking, running, or playing. Our physical rehabilitation department aims to help patients move about comfortably and enjoy these daily activities. While most of our rehabilitation patients are dogs, cats have also been known to participate in hydrotherapy.
Water therapy has been shown to be beneficial to pets in the same way it is for humans. As pets walk on the treadmill, the water’s buoyancy reduces the impact of gravity, making the exercise easier on their joints.
Aquatic exercise is also good for the pet’s overall conditioning and fitness, as it’s a low-impact source of aerobic exercise. Patients may experience increased flexibility and range of motion, in addition to muscle strength and endurance.
The Process of Pet Hydrotherapy
During a session, patients will enter the tank before it fills with water. The water level is adjustable. This is important when your patients range in size from tiny Chihuahuas to tall Great Danes! Because the comfort and safety of patients is extremely important, smaller pets, beginners, and those with more serious mobility challenges will frequently have the therapist remain in the tank with them throughout the hydrotherapy session.
Speed and duration of the treadmill workout are based on a patient’s individual condition. Occasionally toys or treats will be incorporated to keep the pet motivated and engaged. Many dogs take to the water quite naturally and enjoy their sessions.
As with any new form of treatment, owners should consult a doctor to see if water-based rehabilitation may be right for their pet. To learn more about our SAGE rehabilitation therapists, visit http://www.sagecenters.com/physical-rehabilitation-team/.