The Benefits of Underwater Treadmills in Pet Rehabilitation

Pet water therapy has become a common practice among many veterinary clinics and pet rehabilitation specialists. Underwater treadmills are helping cats, dogs, and other pets get back into good health. Aquatic therapy is highly beneficial as it uses the therapeutic properties of water to improve range of motion, strengthen muscles, and boost endurance – while reducing the risk of injury. Pet water therapy can help rehabilitate after soft tissue injuries, postoperative fracture care, neurological impairments, osteoarthritis, muscle weakness, geriatric care, weight loss, and postoperative amputee. Pets all over the country are being introduced to hydrotherapy and reaping the benefits of water sports for pets.

Advantages of Walking in Water

Using the thermal effects of water can help dogs, cats, and other pets relax during pet therapy. Warm water has the ability to lessen pain and can make connective tissue flexible, thus allowing better range of motion and deeper stretching. The warmth of the water can also increase blood flow and increase the pet’s motivation, speeding up recovery. Since water aerobics and various forms of water therapy are considered “low-impact,” many pet rehabilitation specialists opt for water rehabilitation.

Pets can enjoy many advantages from underwater treadmills, also referred to as hydro-treadmills. The buoyant properties of water minimize the weight that is bearing on the bones and joints of the dog or cat. The pet therapist may raise or lower the level of water according to how much or little weight is bearing on the pet’s body to return it back to a normal gait pattern. Reducing the weight put on the bones and joints is highly important to increase endurance and strength – while helping the pet lose weight – without putting excess stress on the joints.

Pet water therapy also provides another major benefit. With the help of a water rehabilitation specialist, the speed of the treadmill can be customized to each pet based on the length of the pets’ legs and how much exertion the pet is putting forth. For example, a small breed dog would normally require a slower pace, while faster speeds are better for dogs with longer legs and those advanced in their conditioning – such as with agility or athletic canines. While the size of the pet will help determine the starting speed, the rate of the exercise will be determined by the pets’ specific needs and physical condition.

Getting Started with Pet Therapy

Many pets are initially frightened when introduced to water therapy. As the dog or cat slowly becomes accustomed to pet water rehabilitation, they generally become used to the water and equipment. In most cases, the pet therapist will allow the dog to run or walk on the treadmill inside the tank before filling it with water. Cats require extra special care when participating in water therapy. They require a relaxed, quiet environment and water set between 88 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pet rehabilitation is a relatively modern facet of veterinary medicine. Many veterinarians are now offering this service, although your own veterinarian may not yet offer these procedures. Consult with your veterinarian about their use of an underwater treadmill and other hydrotherapy equipment. If your veterinarian believes that your pet could benefit from pet water rehabilitation, they may refer you to an appropriate pet clinic.

Enjoying Therapy Advantages

Underwater treadmill rehabilitation is an effective form of medical treatment for pets. While water therapy can be beneficial to many pets, it is generally not recommended for pets with respiratory or cardiac disease due to the increased resistance which can be stressful on the body. It is also not ideal for pets that have skin sutures from recent surgeries. As with any new form of treatment, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian before undergoing therapy to ensure that your pet is evaluated properly.

For the right pets, water rehabilitation with equipment such as water treadmills can be highly beneficial to your pet. At first, water therapy can be very slow and the dog or cat may become tired easily. With regular exercise, the pet will be able to increase its stride and exercise better without assistance. Many signs of pain will decrease over time and the pet will most likely obtain better health and wellness. What is canine rehabilitation?

Physical therapy for canines, or canine rehabilitation, adapts human physical therapy techniques to increase function and mobility of joints and muscles in animals. Animal rehabilitation can reduce pain and enhance recovery from injury, surgery, degenerative diseases, age-related diseases, and obesity.


What is Animal Rehabilitation?

Animal rehabilitation is the treatment of pets that are debilitated from orthopedic or neurological problems. It has long been known that physical therapy is an essential component in restoring human function after an injury or surgery. ACVH takes those same principles and applies them to aid in the recovery of your pet. We do this through the use of careful evaluation and specific treatments designed for your pets’ specific problems.

Who Can Benefit from Rehabilitation?

Most animals can benefit from physical rehabilitation. Even a healthy pet can benefit by way of preventing injury. More typically, however, rehab can benefit your dog or cat if they are suffering from injury, disease, or if they are recovering from surgery. Though rehab cannot cure certain diseases, it can help to improve the quality of life for many animals and enable them to lead more functional lives.


What Kind of Diagnoses are Commonly Treated with Rehabilitation?

Physical rehabilitation is indicated for a variety of conditions such as: Pre-operative or post-operative surgeries (orthopedic or neurological), dysplasia, muscle strains and spasms, ligamentous sprains or tears, arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, degenerative myelopathy, obesity, spine disorders such as disc problems or facet joint dysfunctions. Rehab has been shown to greatly improve outcomes for those recovering from common surgeries to treat CCL tears such as TPLO’s, TTA’s, and extracapsular repairs. 

What Other Types of Treatments are Offered?

We utilize many of the other conventionally used modalities that are seen in human physical therapy practice. We offer Ultrasound, LASER therapy, Manual Therapy, and specific land-based therapeutic exercises designed to meet your pet’s particular problems. We also strive to educate the owner as much as possible so rehab can carry over into the home through the use of a home exercise program.


How Long Does My Pet Need to Come for Therapy?

The plan of care depends on the individual needs of your pet. Generally speaking, the typical orthopedic client recovering from a surgery will come in for therapy 1-3x per week for about 4-8 weeks. We will, however, work with you, your pet, and your budget to come up with a plan that works for you.


How Long Does Each Visit Last?

Your first visit includes both a comprehensive evaluation and treatment. This usually lasts from 15-60 minutes. Each subsequent treatment depends on what is all being done, but typically lasts for 15-30 minutes.


What if My Pet Doesn’t Like the Water? Can He/She Still do Therapy?

Surprisingly, most dogs adapt nicely in the underwater treadmill. It may take a couple of sessions to get them used to it, but often, they do quite well. Your pet does not need to know how to swim to participate in water therapy. Many times, he/she will walk on the underwater treadmill without swimming at all. We also have special canine floatation jackets for those that need them.


Will the Chlorine Hurt My Pet?

The chlorine levels we maintain are safe, yet effective. Chlorine levels are checked daily and adjusted appropriately. We have not had any dogs show adverse reactions to the chlorine.


Can All Dogs Participate in Water Therapy?

Unfortunately, no. If your dog is incontinent, we cannot put them in the underwater treadmill. Furthermore, if your pet has any underlying medical problems that may put them at risk, your veterinarian may not recommend water therapy (such conditions would include congestive heart failure, epilepsy, bleeding (internal or external), and asthma). To ensure your pet’s safety, it will be up to the veterinarian to assess risks, precautions, and contraindications for water therapy.


What Can You do for My Pet Who is in Pain?

We have a variety of pain-relieving modalities that we can use. Among them are ultrasound, laser, massage, stretching, cold packs and hot packs.


What Kind of Animals do You Treat?

We mostly treat dogs, but we can treat cats as well!!