For dogs that are older or have decreased flexibility due to a condition such as arthritis or a previous injury, dry land exercises like walks can be painful and damaging. Fortunately, there is an alternative that meets the dog’s need for activity without putting undue stress on joints or old injuries: water exercises.
Because water provides a weightless environment, water exercises are a wonderful answer for dogs that suffer from chronic pain or impaired movement. Consider the following benefits of water exercise when deciding if this form of activity might be a good fit for your dog:
Water exercises allow for temperature control
Since most water exercise programs take place in established hydrotherapy facilities, it is possible to adjust the temperature of the water to match or just slightly exceed the body temperature of the dog. This provides a therapeutic environment that also serves the purpose of increasing flexibility in joints and keeping muscles limber to avoid injury.
Water exercises are ideal for rehabilitation
If your dog has recently suffered an injury, such as a torn ligament or a broken bone, water exercises have the potential to speed up their recovery. Because there is no shock involved in water exercises, they are less likely to stress previously damaged parts. For a dog that has recently been injured, the water environment provides an ideal space for rehabilitation and gentle physical therapy.
Water exercises are wonderful for weight loss
Many people who have overweight or obese dogs find that their movement is limited due to the excess pounds. Some heavy dogs may even suffer from joint complications. For these dogs, losing weight can be difficult because exercises like running and fetching may exacerbate pre-existing conditions and wind up doing the dog more harm than good.
Fortunately, these dogs can often develop a wonderful water weight-loss regiment by utilizing tools like the water treadmill. In addition to providing much-needed exercise, the water environment also removes joint stress and may help reverse the damage caused by obesity.
Water exercises are enjoyable for most dogs
Many dogs love the water, and if given the chance, they will swim simply for the joy of it. For these dogs, water exercises are ideal. Along with full-body activity, being in the water also offers them the chance to splash around and have fun.
For dogs that need to lose weight, recover from an injury, or find an impact-free form of activity, water exercises can be a wonderful path. It is not only gentle on the dog’s body, but is also an incredibly effective form of exercise that most dogs will enjoy. Check your local listings for pet hydrotherapy groups or to locate a water exercise facility near you.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian.