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Floyd goes to Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy for Dogs

I’d mentioned to a few people that we had booked Floyd into Hydrotherapy and they wanted to know how we got on, some with an interest for their own dogs.

Floyd is our 12.5 year old Golden Retriever. Now Floyd is a fit and healthy dog, but over the last 12-18 months or so he has begun to show signs of aging. He’s slowed up on his walks, but is always keen to go out and about. We also noticed that he was taking more time to get up from laying down and that if our other 2 dogs knocked into him they could make him stumble. So, wanting to try to keep Floyd in as good a condition as we can we looked into hydrotherapy and talked to friends who had taken their dogs to hydrotherapy to see what their experiences were, they were all positive. As we know Tracey at Hydro-fur-apy Ltd we talked to her about booking Floyd in for some sessions, letting her know that Floyd is not a swimmer, he only likes to paddle while he can see and feel the bottom. This is how we got on…..

All alternative therapies require consent from your vet, before your therapist can work on your dog. We completed Hydro-fur-apy’s vet consent form and Tracey contacted our vet directly. In Floyd’s case our vet gave Tracey some advice and some additional things to look out for whilst undergoing treatment.

First we took Floyd for a Meet & Greet appointment, so that he could have a look around and become familiar with the smells and sounds of hydrotherapy. Lots of love and fuss from Tracey and a good look around helps as this is all new to him and Floyd is a very wussy Goldie, bless him. The scariest thing for him was the texture of the ramp. What I like about this visit is, this is exactly how we like to introduce dogs to daycare, letting them familiarise themselves with our daycare environment without there being other dogs around.

The day came for our first hydrotherapy session. Floyd trotted in very happily, had a warm shower and was fitted with a safety jacket. As he was worried about the ramp we lifted him up that as quickly and gently as we could to cause minimum stress. He was a bit stressed when he first went into the water, as said he’s never wanted to swim. Tracey quietly talked to him the whole time while also having a hold of the jacket and got him moving. During the session his eyes softened and his breathing settled to a normal pant. To begin with he wouldn’t take a piece of sausage and then as he visibly relaxed he was very happy with his sausage treat. Tracey was keeping a close eye on him the whole time and doing health checks to make sure that he was ok. On his final 2 circuits of the pool he only glanced at me as he went by. What he found strange was trying to stand on the platform in the pool to rest between doing circuits of the pool, but by the end of the session he was able to do this. We then got him out of the pool and once he’d rested for a few minutes at the top of the ramp, we got him down the ramp and into a nice warm shower. Then he had a lovely towel rub down with a few treats for being such a clever boy. Our instructions were for Floyd to rest for the remainder of the day and not to eat for 2 hours afterwards.

Yes Floyd was tired that day as you’d expect. Our appointment was on a Saturday and during the week Floyd definitely seemed more spritely and a little bit livelier in the evenings. He showed no ill effects.

Our next session was booked in 2 weeks later. Floyd trotted in again very happily. He was suited up and we got him into the pool as quickly as we could so that he didn’t have time to worry about the ramp, which is the scary thing for him. This time he settled into his swim on his second circuit of the pool and though he still took him a while to find his feet on the platform to stand and rest, his breathing was good from the start and his eyes were soft and he was getting the hang of this swimming thing. We did the same thing when the time came for him to get out, he was allowed to rest at the top of the ramp to find his paws and then we got him down and into a nice warm shower, towel dry, fuss and water. He then had his measurements taken and was weighed.

We followed the same instructions as previously, he rested and couldn’t eat for 2 hours. This week I have noticed that he moves slightly better when he goes out of the back door down the step. His movement is a bit smoother and not so cautious. It’s early days and we will see how he goes on. If we can help to maintain the muscle definition that he has and improve his mobility that will be great. It’s not always fun to get old, so if we can make his life as comfortable as we can as he gets older, all the better. I hope this is of interest to anyone else who like us are interested in alternative therapies to keep our dogs fit and healthy.

Health Checks carried out during our hydrotherapy session:

  • CRT (Capillary Refill Time) how long the gums take to turn back to pink after applying pressure to them. Checking the gums to see if they are moist or dry along with the colour (whether they are the correct salmon pink colour or pale).

  • Heart rate by checking femoral pulse on the inside of the hind limb or you can also just put the hand over his heart, but the hind leg is easier when they are panting.

  • Observing his gait on arrival and whilst moving around the unit for any abnormal movement and how he places his feet when he is standing still.

  • Carrying out foot placement on the pod in the pool.

  • Checking his balance both in the shower and whilst on the pod in the water to see if he has good core strength.

  • Breathing (Respiratory rate).

  • General body check for lumps, inflammation or cuts.

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