Week 21 – Dog hydrotherapy

An underwater treadmill  for your dog?

We went to our first dog hydrotherapy this week to even out the muscles on Darcy’s hind legs from her dog knee injury.  It was definitely work for her!  She came home exhausted, but not limping.  It’s an interesting device, it basically looks like a large fish tank with a glass door at one end.  You walk your dog through the door and have them face you.  (not the best video ever below, but it will give you and idea.)

 When the tank fills it makes funny noises which freaked out Darcy a little, but she got used to them.  The dog rehabilitation expert only fills it to about your dog’s belly, then turns on the treadmill part.  It took my dog a couple of tries to understand the concept.  When she stopped moving, she kept going backward.  I think she was thinking “how come I’m walking, but no one else around me is?!”  You stand at the front and give treats and encouragement.  She did really well.  We only did 21 minutes the first time to see how she would handle it, but she went at varying speeds and was breathing hard.  Then, she got rinsed off with a hose, rubbed down with a towel and had a bit of an after workout massage from her dog physical therapist.

We’re going to try the dog hydrotherapy once a week for about four weeks and reevaluate from there.  She was walking slower and a little stiff for the afternoon that day, but was ready for her dog therapy exercises that evening and really raring to go on her walk the next day.  The new dog therapist gave us some more suggestions for exercises to get the injured leg back to what it was.  One is to do her sit/stands with her bottom sitting on a downhill slope.  This makes her use her hind legs more for that exercise.  Since I do this outside with her, she is also doing more backwards walking because I do it across the whole backyard.  (Our neighbors must get a kick out of it!)  Side-walking, still haven’t figured out how to get Darcy to do this one.  She has two directions, forward and backwards.  And, to put more side-hilling in on her walks with her injured leg on the downhill side.  We incorporated that into our walks and have one day where we sidehill all the way back.

Surprisingly, even after only a week of all of this my dog’s hind end feels much more muscular.  She was kind of bony with her hip bones sticking out on the rump above her tail and now it’s starting to feel like it used to.  It will be interesting to see how much of a difference this makes in her actual muscle measurements.

Darcy and I are still going strong with the conservative management for her doggy ACL tear and I am so happy to see her almost back to normal.  She gets more energy every week and our neighbor’s who see her are just so surprised at how well she is recovering.  I had forgotten how spunky she is and am loving seeing her incredible energy and playfulness again.

If you have any questions about the dog hydrotherapy or anything else, let me know in the comments below.

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