Hydrotherapy in an underwater treadmill or pool uses the natural properties of water, or the principles of relative density, buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, surface tension, viscosity and resistance to achieve its therapeutic benefits in a safe environment. Exercising in water can help reduce fatigue and pressure on joints, soothe aches, and help with balance. It can also improve mobility and flexibility, allowing patients to recover from surgery or an injury quicker, and experience a better quality of life and well-being.
Because of the success of Hydrotherapy with humans, veterinarians are gaining confidence in and observing similar positive results with animals. Specific interest in canine rehabilitation started with the horse racing industry and branched out to include racing and performance dogs, and house pets. Aquatic therapy for small animals in an underwater treadmill or pool is effective for improving strength, muscular endurance, cardio-respiratory endurance, range of motion, agility, and psychological well-being, while minimizing pain. It is also an excellent form of exercise for weight loss and older patients, as less body weight in water reduces the stress on bones and joints.
Many conditions benefit from hydrotherapy, especially those disorders in which an animal is reluctant to use a limb or there is a lack of strength, range of motion, proprioceptive ability or weight-bearing status. An animal that will not use a limb on land will be more apt to use it in the water. Hudson Aquatic AquaPaws underwater treadmills have variable control over speed, resistance and depth, which allows for a tailored and progressive therapy plan for every type or breed of patient. Resistance jets can also be turned on or off, depending on the amount of resistance desired, which is useful for muscle strengthening and cardiovascular training as well as reducing swelling and edema.