When a dog runs on hard ground, it can cause stresses on their limbs and tendons. As your dog runs and jumps each footfall creates a shock wave, which travels up the limbs and is absorbed by the bones, tendons and joints. While these stresses are necessary to maintain healthy and strong bones, repetitive or severe amounts of tension can actually damage or weaken the limbs. If your dog has arthritic joints or is recovering from an injury, these shock waves can cause them discomfort.
When a dog swims, they get the advantage of using all the muscles that they would if they were running on the ground, whilst avoiding the potentially damaging concussions, because the buoyancy of the water takes all the weight of your dog’s bones. The added benefit is that their muscle tone will improve due to the increase resistance to movement caused by the water.
Swimming is regularly used as treatment for recovering sick or injured dogs, and is a form of rehabilitation therapy especially appropriate for dogs with orthopaedic conditions. It is great for recovering dogs due to the fact that the waters natural buoyancy means that they are relieved of sudden twists, stops and falls that they would encounter on the ground. This makes hydrotherapy a safe and effective form of exercise for your dog.
For post-operative dogs, hydrotherapy removes the weight loading on the injured limb and will enable the gradual rebuilding of wasted muscle. It reduces the pain and can accelerate recovery after surgery.
Even aging dogs can benefit from controlled swimming as the soothing effect of the warm water improves circulation and encourages increased mobility in sore, stiff and arthritic joints
Our British weather does not allow for us to swim our dogs in open lakes and ponds. In the winter they are freezing cold- this constricts the blood vessels and prevents the blood from flowing to the extremities- often starving the very muscles that we want to exercise. In summer they often contain dangerous algae that can be toxic to our dogs.
Exercising on hard surfaces can send shock waves up the limbs that are absorbed by the tendons and joints. In youngsters, particularly in larger breeds, this can cause damage resulting in long term lameness, and then muscle wastage.
Swimming in a controlled environment is the answer, the water can be monitored, the temperature kept constant, and the water filtered and treated to make swimming as safe as possible. There are no muddy slippery banks for the dogs to scramble up- risking injury by doing so, and then you have the added benefit of a warm shower and a towel or blow dry.