I am an owner of Roxy, a 10 year old chocolate Labrador Retriever, who has recently been undergoing canine hydrotherapy treatment with Gemma and Abbie at the Lichfield Hydrotheraphy Centre. I wanted to share our experience of the dog pool and how it has changed Roxy’s life, by improving her fitness and mobility and rapidly slowing down the onset of arthritis that she has previously been medicated for on a daily basis. I want to describe not only the short term benefits we are currently experiencing, but also explain how I hope this will improve things for Roxy in the longer term, and how I wish that we had begun with this treatment some years earlier. In 2006 when we brought home our beautiful little baby, labrador pup (she was our baby then and still is now) we had never contemplated or ever really heard of Canine Hydrotherapy, nevermind thought it something that we should give serious consideration, despite being aware that arthritis in dogs and hip dysplasia are not uncommon in Labradors.
Dog Swimming Pool
Why on earth would we consider hydrotherapy for dogs, when our young dog, is so active, jumps in every pool, puddle and pond that she can find, she swims at every opportunity. Why would we pay for something when there are so many places we can take her swimming? Dog Swimming Pool We always thought of the sea, a pond, Stowe Pool in Lichfield, Branston Water Park as Roxy’s very own Dog pool, she used to break the ice on a puddle to lie down in the water in freezing temperatures and more often than not we would have to hose her down in the garden before going into the house. But she loved water so it was fine.
Treatment For Dog Arthritis and Painkillers for Dogs
I don’t really remember when exactly Roxy started to really show signs of ageing and when we realised we would need to look at treatment for dog arthritis. I just remember that we would walk for miles and quite quickly, then very rapidly the walks became much shorter and much, much slower. And Roxy showed signs of stiffness, discomfort and often lameness. As her owner, we found this quite difficult, because she was clearly in some pain and we weren’t too sure what we could do to help her. Of course there are painkillers for dogs that can be prescribed by the vet, but I know when these are taken regularly and in high doses they can be damaging to the internal organ’s and as soon as Roxy was on a prescribed dose of Metacam, I was keen to find an alternative treatment that would have less of a damaging effect on her body. That is when I spoke to Abbie and Gemma about the benefits of hydrotherapy in the treatment for dog arthritis and possible prevention and I guess I was extremely lucky that the timing of their new venture to set up Lichfield Hydrotherapy Centre fitted in perfectly with our immediate need for access to this type of treatment for Roxy.
Roxy’s First Canine Hydrotherapy Session
I think on the first hydrotherapy session Roxy swam for about 8 minutes and she was bounding around and very quickly ran out of steam. I looked at the photographs of her that I took at her first session in the dog pool and thought for the first time I was seeing my doggy, my little pup, looking quite elderly and I felt so, so sad.
Benefits of Hydrotherapy and the Dog Swimming Pool
The first session was before Christmas, and now, 8 months on we are seeing so much improvement in her mobility, one of the benefits of hydrotherapy and her sessions in the dog pool are now between 20-23 minutes, she also doesn’t go in all crazy, she paces herself. But she is smiling for the whole session. My mum saw Roxy face to face a few weeks ago and commented on how much brighter she seemed and how she looked younger again and we can see this too. She may still have a grey chin and increasingly more grey hairs on her belly she rolls over, but she is a happier and fitter dog than she was six months ago.
Treatment For Dog Arthritis
I would recommend canine hydrotherapy to anyone that owns a dog, a huge benefit is that we have reduced Roxy’s Metacam dose massively and she just has the Metacam every other day and a much smaller dose (she was on the max does for her size before trying hydrotherapy). She is clearly in a lot less discomfort and less stiff in her joints. In young dogs, canine hydrotherapy can build up stamina and fitness, assist with weight management and is a fun session for an active young dog.
We feel that the sessions in the dog pool have been crucial in maintaining a healthy weight for Roxy and her fitness levels have improved because her walks are nowadays much shorter and slower than before, but the hydrotherapy is so low impact and she really enjoys each session. We also feel that the cost of the hydrotherapy is offset against the vets bills, because we are spending less on Metacam now and her visits to the vet are much less regular whilst she is experiencing a better mobility, we think the money is better spent of giving her a more comfortable and enjoyable life.
If one day we get another dog, we will definitely be choosing to take him or her to canine hydrotherapy from an early age, especially now we have Lichfield Hydrotherapy Centre down the road and we understand the benefits of hydrotherapy, there would be no reason not to. I hope this post is helpful to anyone who may be considering taking their dog for hydrotherapy sessions or if you are wondering if there are any real benefits, I would say it is definitely worth trying a few taster sessions.
I‘older’ baby girl having so much fun