The practice of hydrotherapy for dogs has recently gained some buzz in the dog world. As with most trends, the seeming popularity of this exercise may have you wondering about the practice and effectiveness. What is hydrotherapy? How can it benefit your dog? Which conditions is it used to treat? And what is the cost of hydrotherapy for dogs? These questions are common among pet owners and will be addressed later in this article.
The Basics of Hydrotherapy
The primary purpose or goal of hydrotherapy for dogs is recovery. The buoyancy of the water prevents your dog from bearing weight on injured or disabled portions of the body. As a result, hydrotherapy is most commonly used to decrease postoperative recovery times and slow the actions of degenerative conditions. Although, it can also help ease canine arthritis pain and aid in weight loss.
There are a few different methods for conducting hydrotherapy, but the two most frequently used are pool-based therapy and underwater treadmill hydrotherapy. The practice requires the use of a harness to maintain your dog’s position in the water while in the pool.
Hydrotherapy pools for canines are specially designed, only large enough for the dog to move about freely and the hydrotherapist to interact with him. The pools typically have ramps built in to allow for easy entries and exits. The water may be heated to help loosen and soothe aching muscles and joints for those dogs recovering or cooled for athletic dogs who are training or exercising.
Underwater treadmill hydrotherapy, on the other hand, consists of a treadmill belt enclosed in a small tank. The tank is then filled to a level appropriate for the specific dog and the condition the dog is recovering from. The speed of the treadmill is also determined by the hydrotherapist but is usually programmed to a low speed. The hydrotherapist assists and supports the dog while he walks along the underwater treadmill.
Canines are often referred to a hydrotherapist by their veterinarian or veterinary surgeon. If you would like to add hydrotherapy to your dog’s treatment plan or exercise routine, consult with your vet first.
Average Cost of Hydrotherapy for Dogs
Once you have spoken to your vet and determined that hydrotherapy is the right course of action for your pet, you may start wondering about the cost of such treatments. As with most things, the cost of canine hydrotherapy will vary depending on a number of factors. These cost influencing factors can include the type of hydrotherapy, the length of each therapy session, the condition being treated, your geographic location and the specific center you choose to attend. In general, pool-based therapy will be slightly more affordable than underwater treadmill hydrotherapy.
More specifically, a 30-minute pool-based therapy session typically costs about $30 while an underwater treadmill hydrotherapy session of the same length will run closer to $40 or $50.
While hydrotherapy will aid your dog’s healing process, it will not cure him of any ailment. Some studies have indicated that canines suffering from muscular, neurological and skeletal conditions have experienced a higher quality of healing with hydrotherapy than those who did not engage in a form of physical therapy. Hydrotherapy may also help to prevent certain conditions, primarily canine obesity. However, as with humans, canine obesity can lead to the development of other serious health conditions.
In addition, though there are many widely recognized benefits to hydrotherapy there are also some risks pet owners should be aware of in the water. Most commonly these include recurrent ear infections in dogs from too much water in the ears, agitation of existing skin conditions, and excessive fatigue which could result in drowning if dogs are not monitored properly during their training or therapy sessions. Fortunately, these risks are either minimal or avoidable.
Overall, hydrotherapy is a safe alternative to more traditional methods of recovery or physical therapy. With the right trainer, your dog will be able to recover faster or achieve a higher level of fitness.