Spondylosis, also known as spondylosis deformans in dogs, is a condition where osteophytes grow on the ventral (bottom) surface of the vertebral bodies. Osteophytes are commonly referred to as bone spurs and are bony projections that can form along joints in the body of a dog.
As bone spurs grow, they form bridges from one vertebrae to another. Though compression of the spine is usually not the result, the dog may gradually lose flexibility in the backbone and overall range-of-motion. As the dog ages, you may see a diminished capacity to run, jump and turn. Finally, trauma can snap the bridges of bone fusing the vertebrae, causing pinched nerves.
Swimming as a form of exercise is beneficial to dogs and will not put too much strain on the animal’s spine or on its joints. Swimming also allows the dog to build up its muscles especially around the spine area which with time helps in easing the pain that accompanies a case of spondylosis.
Other benefits include:
- Reduces pain – The soothing effect of the warm water encourages more fluid movement of the joints, leading to decreased levels of pain
- Reduced inflammation – Hydrostatic pressure applied by water can assist in reducing swelling or inflammation by forcing body fluid away from affected areas. This is assisted by exercising the limbs to enhance circulation
- Warmth of the water increases blood supply to surrounding soft tissues – helping to reduce spasm, stiffness and reluctance to move
- Improve quality of life
- Non-weight bearing – easier to move
- Increased active range of motion
- Feeling of well-being due to release of endorphins
- Reduction of frustration for dogs on reduced exercise
- Increased muscle strength
- Improved muscle patterning and recruitment
- Improved cardiovascular fitness
- Decreased pain and inflammation