Adventures in Water Therapy for Dogs


We've had several cold snaps this winter, which makes it tough for anyone to exercise, including our arthritic furry friend, Maestro. As a result, I've noticed an increase in the amount of stiffness in his movements. To combat this, we are exploring water therapy for the treatment of canine arthritis and IVDD in dogs. To give you an idea of Maestro's progress, this is a video that I took of Maestro's gait last month. He was in between his acupuncture and laser therapy sessions and it was a cold week. You can see how choppy is gait is and how he favours his left side:

Maestro's Water Therapy Treatment for Canine Arthritis

Maestro had his first water therapy session two weeks ago. The noises the water pump made as it filled the tank frightened him and I think he wanted to know what I wasn't going into the tank with him. He also wasn't keen on facing away from the door.

He quickly adjusted. I think he remembered the treadmill at home and started plodding along at 0.5 mph. Like the dry treadmill, he stopped to take breaks and would resume walking either when he reached the end of the treadmill or got a light bump from Louise (one of the fabulous staff members at Canine Aquafitness).

Here's a video from his first water therapy session:

He had his second session earlier this week. It went smashingly well. Maestro was happy that the treadmill was repaired and he could now walk while facing the exit.

Dr. Catherine, Emmanuelle and Louise have decided that Maestro doesn't need anyone with him next time. Here's some video from that treatment:

As you can see, his movements are much more fluid. He was bending his joints more and really getting into it. This time, he spent more time walking at 0.75 mph and travelled 0.16 miles (0.2 more than last week).

Maestro's monthly treatment plan at Canine Aquafitness now consists of weekly water therapy sessions on the underwater treadmill with one week of laser therapy. His acupuncture treatments are also going to go down to once every three weeks. Let's just say I'm glad there's pet insurance!

An Introduction to Water Therapy Treatment for Dogs

Water therapy is used as treatment for canine arthritis and Inter-vertebral Disc disease. The result will be increased mobility for our intrepid Canine Studio Assistant.

Water therapy can be used to treat other conditions in dogs.  For example: hip and elbow dysplasia, patella luxation, obesity, spinal injuries and post-operation rehabilitation.

Water Therapy for Dogs in Calgary

Dog owners in Calgary and the surrounding area are quite lucky. There are three veterinary clinics that specialize in canine hydrotherapy:

Canine Aquafitness (Okotoks, AB): This is where Maestro goes. His vet there is Dr. Catherine Pampligione, who received the Okotoks Chamber of Commerce 2013 Award of Excellence in Animal Care. In addition to water therapy for dogs, the Centre offers therapeutic ultrasound, electrical muscle therapy, massage therapy, chiropractic treatments, infrared therapy and cold laser therapy.

Canine Fitness Centre (Calgary, AB): The Centre offers ultrasound, light therapy, magnetic field therapy, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, fitness conditioning, canine hydrotherapy and more.

Marda Loop Veterinary Centre (Calgary, AB): The Centre offers a wide range of canine rehabilitation services, including: chiropractic, acupuncture, water treadmill, extracorpeal shock wave therapy and more.

Pet owners in Calgary can find out more about water therapy for dogs at an information session hosted by the Shawnessy Pet Valu on Saturday, March 15, 2014. For those of you outside of the Calgary service area, you can visit the International Association of Animal Massage & Bodywork / Association of Canine Water Therapy's website to find a canine hydrotherapy centre near you.