A water-based therapy for dogs popular in Britain and the US is taking off in Canberra and seeing good results in helping local pooches recovering from surgery or injury and in treating problems such as arthritis.
DogSwim Canberra is one of about 10 centres in Australia using an underwater treadmill and hydrotherapy to help dogs build their muscles, improve their movement and boost endurance.
Run by UK qualified and trained hydrotherapist Jordan Petreski, the canine hydrotherapy centre has been operating in Queanbeyan for two-and-a-half years and helping to relieve the pain of some much-loved pets.
Eleven-year-old Grozny is a case in point. The ‘fun-sized’ dog was referred to DogSwim Canberra by his vet because his spondylosis/arthritis was causing him to be very stiff and in quite a bit of pain. Sadly, he was also becoming dependent on medication.
Following a series of 10 weekly underwater treadmill sessions, Grozny’s strength improved, along with his flexibility and range of motion – and he no longer needs painkillers or anti-inflammatory medication.
Ellie is another adorable pooch to benefit from the treadmill sessions which make use of the therapeutic properties of warm water.
Ellie had been diagnosed with luxating patella – or moving kneecaps – and pencilled in for surgery. However, her owner decided to hold off and try to strengthen her first, and get her to lose some weight.
Ellie started going to DogSwim Canberra last February and after 10 sessions is stronger, slimmer and has had her surgery postponed indefinitely.
“We’ve helped hundreds of pooches in the community from all shapes and sizes and various conditions, always working in partnership with their vets,” said Jordan.
“We’ve had dogs that can only walk 20 metres when we first see them, and to hear that they are now able to go for 20 to 30 minute walks after a course of 10 sessions is very rewarding.”
Jordan decided to establish DogSwim Canberra after losing his own dog, a German Shepherd named Olinna, at a young age.
“We lost one of our girls at a very early age to a freakishly rare bone infection four years ago. By the time she started showing any symptoms it was too late,” said Jordan.
“Our vet told us that even if she had survived her quality of life wouldn’t have been great as she would have suffered from severe arthritis for the rest of her time. She was only five.
“Although Olinna didn’t make it, we set out to provide a service for those Canberra dog owners whose pets are still around for them to be able to spend as much quality time with their furry kids as possible.”
Jordan said that in the UK and USA, hydrotherapy has become a common practice among many veterinary clinics and pet rehabilitation specialists.
“While undertaking training in the UK I couldn’t believe my eyes. Hydro centres were as common as groomers,” said Jordan.
DogSwim Canberra has an underwater treadmill and a swim-spa for dogs. The water in the treadmill is kept at 30 degrees and it is filled with water once the dog is inside, with the dog walking against the water. Take a look at the YouTube video below to see how it works.
Jordan said that hydrotherapy can be used to help rehabilitate dogs with soft tissue injuries, undergoing postoperative rehabilitation and suffering from such things as neurological impairments, osteoarthritis, muscle weakness, and weight loss. It’s also used to help fit sporting dogs who want to maintain or gain the extra ‘edge’ over their competitors.
“Both from a personal and professional standpoint, we absolutely love working on older arthritic dogs,” Jordan said.
“Our aim is to help them rebuild and strengthen their muscles. Stronger muscles are then able to better support joints that are starting to ‘wear off’.
“Similar to us going to the gym, sessions are undertaken regularly and for a period of time before an increase in muscle mass and strengthening of the core is clearly noticeable. An increase of between 10 per cent and 20 per cent in muscle mass on all four limbs is very common.”
Hydrotherapy sessions are $60 each (or $50 each if there are two dogs) and include a shampoo wash. DogSwim Canberra works with vet referrals and depending on the insurance policy some sessions are covered by insurance providers.
Bookings are essential, with the business open on afternoon/evenings from Monday to Thursday and all day on Saturday.
To find out more about DogSwim Canberra go to www.dogswimcanberra.com.au or phone 6299 9456.
Do you have a dog who is suffering from arthritis or other injuries? Do you think canine hydrotherapy is a good idea?