As I write, the sun is shining and my older dog Kilo, the Kelpie is sitting near me. She is almost nine years old and is in a good place considering she has double elbow dysplasia and arthritis.
We discovered she had double elbow dysplasia when she was less than a year old. She had surgery in Bristol shortly after, microfracture in both elbows and stem cell treatment.
It worked amazingly well, and she has been great mobility wise up until three years ago. The arthritis is getting gradually worse which is inevitable, so I wanted to make sure that her quality of life is a as best as it can be without being in pain.
We use a combination of medication and hydrotherapy, a daily medication called Galliprant (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID)) and a monthly injection called Librela. She also has hydrotherapy every three weeks- she started by going every week for a while as she also had a cruciate ligament tear in her right hind leg, so for a while only had one good leg!
The hydrotherapy has been so beneficial to Kilo that it has significantly improved her quality of life (alongside her medication). I feel thankful that I have the opportunity and means (helped by a good insurance policy) to take her every three weeks as it keeps her in a good healthy, physical and emotional state and supports her overall wellbeing.
So, can any dog benefit from hydrotherapy? The answer is yes! Its not only for dogs that have ongoing orthopaedic, muscular or neurological conditions, but it can also benefit puppies, younger dogs for fitness and older dogs that have age related conditions like arthritis.
It can also be hugely beneficial to dogs recovering from surgery. Another area that hydrotherapy can potentially help is with dogs presenting with behavioural issues. Some behaviour issues can be pain related. With a vet referral, the experienced hydrotherapy team can often see pain issues in legs once the dog is in the warm hydrotherapy tank.
This is crucial as once an area is identified and some rehab work can be done, the previous behaviour that the dog was displaying sometimes goes away as the dog is feeling more comfortable and has less pain.
Why use water?
‘’Hydrotherapy utilises all the beneficial properties that water has. The water is used as a means of supporting dogs in a non-weight bearing or partially weight bearing environment, which allows movements that would not be possible on land, perhaps because of weakness or injury. ‘’ ( Westmac Canine Hydrotherapy)
By using water, sessions which are individually tailored to your dog can help with rehab, cardio and fitness, muscle tone, helping with inflammation, help with strength in the right areas ( so your dog is not off loading onto one leg) and also helping to improve gait.
I take Kilo to Westmac Canine Hydrotherapy and from day one their professionalism, expertise and friendly approach eased Kilo into using the hydrotherapy tank. (They also made me feel at ease with cups of tea!)
They made the sessions fun and gradually over time Kilo went from doing very short sessions to a couple of minutes with breaks in between. She is totally at ease now and loves the treats as the girls make it a very positive experience
The hydrotherapy tank has a treadmill so the speed can be as slow as needed and a gradient can be added if necessary to aid fitness or rehabilitation. Crucially, the level of the water can be set to suit the overall needs of each individual dog.
For all hydrotherapy appointments you will always need a vet referral, whether it is for rehab, helping to encourage more muscle tone, checking for possible injuries or for fitness and cardio.
Without hydrotherapy carried out by the highly qualified and professional team at Westmac, Kilo would not have such a good quality of life. I know that each session is tailored exactly to Kilo’s needs and if she is feeling a little under the weather they will accommodate that.
They measure Kilo’s muscles regularly so that they can tell if she is improving her muscle tone and also to make sure that she is not using one side more than the other.
They also weigh her every time she goes, if we can keep her to a steady weight, then her joints will not be under as much strain. Obviously, I am the one to monitor this so its always with a bit of trepidation when the girls tell me she is a good weight still!
If you would like to find out more about how hydrotherapy can help your dog, please check out the website of the team at Westmac - https://westmac.co.uk