The physiotherapy for dogs and cats has a new ally: water. The so-called hydrotherapy or aquatic therapy is an increasingly used technique to help cats and dogs with arthritis, hip dysplasia and even muscle pain. But what is dog and water hydrotherapy and how does it work? What is the physical mystery behind the healing power of water for four-legged friends? The answers are revealed in this article.
What is hydrotherapy or water therapy for dogs and cats?
The so-called hydrotherapy for animals is a veterinary treatment that uses the virtues of water, and its physics, to help dogs and cats with mobility problems: feline arthritis, doggy lameness or degeneration of the limbs, among others.
And how does hydrotherapy work for dogs and cats? “The water relieves the weight of the animal’s body, so it helps it carry out movements that would otherwise be difficult for them to do. In addition, the hot water helps to relieve the pain felt by dogs and cats. injured, “concludes a study on the use of water in animal therapy conducted by the University of Washington . In other words: water promotes movement, relaxes tissues and activates blood circulation, three essential issues for the treatment and recovery of dogs and cats with mobility problems.
This type of water physiotherapy, or hydrotherapy, has a shallow bathtub that often includes a kind of underwater treadmill, similar to the treadmills used in the gym. Once the hairy patient is positioned on the belt, it is put into motion. And so, the feline or dog, sometimes with the help of a veterinarian who holds its hips and with the tape at a very slow speed, notices that its limbs are put in motion with much less effort than they would on solid ground. But there is still more. The water is warm or hot, so it becomes a great help for dogs and cats in winter, and very special for older ones or those with arthritis problems.
The scientific explanation of hydrotherapy for cats and dogs
Dogs and cats can take advantage of this water physiotherapy to recover after an operation or to gain some of the mobility lost due to arthritis, so common in older dogs and cats. But what is the physics on which it relies called? The mystery of the treatment lies in a law as well known as it is studied: Archimedean’s law or the force of thrust .
The Archimedes ‘ principle states that when a body immersed in a fluid (in this case, water) it undergoes a vertical force and upward (push) equal to the weight of the mass of the fluid volume it displaces. Does it sound familiar? Well, that vertical force directed upwards explains why when you get into a pool it seems that it weighs less.
And the same is true for cats and dogs: when they enter hydrotherapy pools, their bodies also experience that upward vertical force. The result? Your damaged bones and joints bear less weight, and therefore the simple but all-important act of moving becomes less hard, heavy, or laborious; it becomes easier for them to move around and thus regain some of the muscle lost due to lack of mobility.
When is hydrotherapy useful for cats and dogs?
The veterinary physiotherapy and water therapy for dogs and cats, is recommended when problems bones or joints of animals. For this reason, it is very useful in dogs that suffer from hip or shoulder dysplasia (an abnormality in the joint that causes lameness) or when there is a problem with ligaments and tissues. Hydrotherapy is also highly recommended when dogs or cats suffer from back pain, lameness, arthritis, and even neurological diseases.
“Veterinary hydrotherapy or aquatic therapy has many benefits: the simple fact of exercising in the water is already beneficial to develop strength and exercise muscles with the least possible pain”
And what if the dog or cat is afraid of water?
But is hydrotherapy for everyone? What if the cat or dog is afraid of water ? “All dogs and cats, even the most fearful animals, can get used to working in the water, with patience and help,” say veterinarians.