For rehabilitation clients, this will be 100% dependant upon the condition we are treating and how your pet responds to the treatment. Once we assess your pet, we will be able to give you an approximate indication of the recovery timeframe and plan from the outset and will give you regular updates on how they are progressing.
For conservative management clients, it is likely that regular monthly, fortnightly or weekly sessions will be required as part of the on-going management plan. Again, once we assess you pet, we will be able to formulate an individual plan to ensure that it meets the agreed management goals.
For weight management clients, it is dependent upon their condition, the agreed goals and how they respond to the program. Again, we will provide regular update and closely monitor the weight loss as part of the program.
There are three main issues to consider – the first being the environment, the second being control and the third is expertise. An underwater treadmill provides a completely safe and controllable environment for your pet whilst walking in a river/lake contains hidden dangers to their effective rehabilitation such as uneven footing, stones and trip hazards. Control is another important factor with very limited control possible with river/lake walking in comparison to complete control of intensity, depth, speed, incline and many other factors in the underwater treadmill. The third factor is that of expertise – our therapist’s are highly trained and used to working with dogs with complex rehabilitation needs and will tailor every specific session to ensure optimum recovery for your pet.
A vet referral ensures that your pet is in a suitable healthy condition to undertake hydrotherapy treatment and provides our team with information that greatly assists us in formulating the most effective rehabilitation plan. Although a vet referral is our preferred pathway, we can also accept direct enquiries and conduct our own suitability assessment – should we have any concerns we would always refer back to your vet before commencing a treatment plan.
Swimming can allow your pet to exercise without bearing any weight, and swimming can be an excellent way for overweight dogs to burn calories. However, with swimming, there is a lack of control with regards to speed, intensity, or proper limb use. Dogs primarily use their front limbs to swim and some dogs will even tuck their hind limbs in while swimming, so they may not exercise an injured limb at all. If the dog does use all four limbs while swimming, they use a different pattern than a walking gait. This is very important for dogs who are learning how to walk again.
Advantages of Underwater Treadmill Use
- Extension of the limbs/joints is more complete than with swimming
- Specific muscle groups can be targeted
- Control of how fast the patient moves
- Control of how much weight the patient bears as they are moving (height of water)
- The water in the treadmill is heated to around 30 degrees, this eases pain and stimulates circulation
- More balanced treatment for patients with multiple issues (multiple joints, muscle atrophy, etc.)
- Support for weak patients
- Less intimidating than swimming for patients who are fearful of water (with the treadmill, water fills slowly from the bottom)
- Gentle and low impact enough for post-surgical patients (in many cases 2 weeks post op with sutures removed)
Disadvantages of Swimming
- Swimming benefits knee flexion but is not as effective for improving knee and hip extension
- Not a good option for patients who are unfit (seniors/geriatrics, weak core/stamina, etc.)
- No control of intensity or speed
- More intimidating for patients who are fearful or do not like water. In the treadmill the water level rises slowly so even animals who are fearful of water can get use to and enjoy the treadmill.
- Minimal control of the patient’s movement. A thrashing, panicking pet can be dangerous to post op recovery from orthopedic and neurological procedures.
- The footing at the beach, river or lake is often irregular and can be slippery
- Dogs do not generally use their hind limbs effectively when swimming (they use primarily forelimb movement). This poor hind limb movement reduces overall joint range of motion as well as potential for muscle strengthening
No, the underwater treadmill is also used for fitness and conditioning
Healthy dogs can also benefit from the water treadmill. Very active dogs for example, especially ones that could be over-training, could use the water treadmill as a low impact way to maintain cardio fitness or strength. Agility dogs could also use the water treadmill as a way to improve hip flexor strength which can help with some of the obstacles they face on the course. Exercise in the underwater treadmill improves balance, tones muscles and removes excess weight keeping your dog in top shape.
Athletic dogs benefit from exercising in water at speeds that create resistance and maximal muscle recruitment; great for total body strengthening!
Don’t worry. We will take all the time it needs to ensure your dog is happy with its surroundings. The treadmill is very good for dogs that dislike water as we can introduce the water very slowly. Treats and toys are readily provided! Most dogs that dislike water do tend to cope with the treadmill very well.