If your pooch is recuperating from surgery or struggling to lose weight, you may want to dog paddle your way to a canine hydrotherapy center.
There are many benefits to canine hydrotherapy, or low-impact, warm water swimming but the main goal is to strengthen the muscles and joints of a dog, says Dr. Katherine Hillebrand, a Winnetka Animal Hospital veterinarian.
“I think hydrotherapy is wonderful,” Hillebrand says. “I recommend it for dogs who are recovering from orthopedic surgeries, once the surgeon gives consent, as well as dogs with arthritis.”
The boundless benefits of canine hydrotherapy
There are a few canine hydrotherapy centers located in Chicago’s suburbs, and one of them is Splash Dog in Des Plaines. Co-owners Amy Thier and Traci Szwed opened Splash Dog in 2008, and since then, they say they’ve witnessed dogs reap numerous benefits from hydrotherapy.
“The pool aids in improving both the physical and mental health of dogs,” Thier says.
“Physical improvements include increased mobility in arthritic seniors, accelerated recovery following knee, elbow and hip surgeries, weight loss, as well as slowing the degeneration of joints by building muscle mass.”
Plus, hydrotherapy isn’t just for the Labradors and Dobermans of the world. “Hydrotherapy can work for any size dog.” Hillebrand says.
One dog’s hydrotherapy success story
When Ella, an Australian labradoodle, injured her shoulder and needed physical therapy, her owner Becky Cagen of Northbrook tried therapy swim in an endless pool, but the jets proved to be too much for Ella.
After trying canine hydrotherapy at Splash Dog, however, Cagen instantly noticed improvement in Ella.
“Ella has gained muscle mass in her legs and without any injuries. In physical therapy, her injuries were exasperated but not in swimming. She can’t get hurt in the water,”
Cagen, who’s been taking Ella to Splash Dog since 2009, also says she felt like the owners catered to her own dog’s needs as well as to the needs of all the dogs at the facility.
“My time spent at Splash Dog is a small price to pay to improve the quality of my dog’s life and hopefully increase her lifespan,” she says.
List of suburban canine hydrotherapy centers
Aqua Dog Inc
TheraPET Wellness Center