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Hydrotherapy And The Underwater Treadmill


by Elizabeth F. Baird, DVM CVPP, CCRT, cVMA


Hydrotherapy means “water healing” in Greek, and dogs can benefit from it in a variety of ways. By utilizing the buoyancy and resistance of the water, pets can exercise in the underwa- ter treadmill with very little stress on their


Hydrotherapy using an underwater tread-


mill generates a significantly different form of exercise as compared to swimming in a pool. When dogs swim in home pools, they tend to work their forelegs predominantly and there is


Dr. Baird, KeevaRue and Stitch.


Elizabeth F. Baird, DVM, CVPP, CCRT, cVMA is certified in pain management, canine rehabilitation and veterinary medical acupuncture. She is the Practice Owner of Country Oaks Animal Hospital 1412 Belcher Road Palm Harbor 727.785.6524 and Steele Pain Management & Rehabilitation Center for Animals 727.785.HURT.


Photo above right: Lily gets a gentle workout in the underwater treadmill.


joints. The low impact exercise allows condi- tioning and strengthening to skeletal muscles and core musculature and also improves cardio- vascular status. Hydrotherapy exercise also eases aches & pains, relaxes muscles, improves blood circulation, lymphatic drainage and reduces painful inflammation. The underwater treadmill (UWTM)


allows tight control over the exercise with emphasis on working all four limbs and the core musculature. The water temperature, water depth, and speed of the underwater treadmill are all precisely set and individualized accord- ing to the needs of the pet. The treadmill belt can even be set to incline or decline according to the therapeutic goal.


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usually much less benefit for the hindquarters. From a physical therapy perspective, the under- water treadmill provides a more controlled and consistent therapeutic experience as compared to pool or beach swimming. For pets with disabilities, injuries or recov-


ering from surgery, the hydrotherapy is typically combined with other physical therapy modali- ties to improve the pets’ underlying condition as a component of their rehabilitation program. The treatments may include therapeutic laser, electrical neuromuscular stimulation, acupunc- ture, medical massage, therapeutic joint manip- ulation, ultrasound therapy, myofascial trigger point release and various therapeutic exercises.


Continued on next pageg THE NEW BARKER 75


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