The Underwater Treadmill For Dogs: What is it? - Salt Lake Animal Physical Therapy
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The Underwater Treadmill For Dogs: What is it?

Underwater Treadmill For Dogs

I get this question all the time. What about the Underwater Treadmill For Dogs? What is the water treadmill for dogs and what does it do? The underwater treadmill (UWT) for dogs is based on the idea that the buoyancy of the water unweights the dog and may help a struggling dog weight bear and thus possibly recover more easily. When some people or even some veterinarians think of canine physical therapy, they often think of the underwater treadmill or maybe a laser. But the truth is canine rehabilitation or canine physical therapy is so much more.

What is canine physical therapy or rehab?

Canine physical therapy adapts techniques and treatment methods from humans to improve function, mobility, and overall quality of life in a dog. Physical therapy for dogs can be used to reduce pain, improve gait or limping, increase strength, help degenerative diseases, obesity, increase function, help age related diseases, for post-surgical conditions, and much more. The methods and techniques are endless, but the most important thing that goes behind canine physical therapy is the professional that executes it. Meaning the thought process of why, how much, and when something is done is important. The trained physical therapist or veterinarian evaluates the client and develops a treatment plan based on that evaluation. Putting a dog in the underwater treadmill is often not done and is often not a skilled part of a treatment plan.

Instead the skilled canine rehab professional may perform:

  • Soft tissue mobilization to release tight muscles
  • Passive or active range of motion to improve mobility and function
  • Hands on manual techniques which is called manual therapy for a variety of reasons
  • Joint mobilizations or distractions to decrease pain, increase range of motion, or decrease inflammation
  • Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy to increase bone or tissue healing
  • Laser to decrease pain or inflammation, or help tissue repair
  • Weightbearing, proprioceptive, or balance work to stabilize joints, increase weight bearing, or give neuro feedback
  • Progressive exercises both in clinic and an at home program
  • And much more!!!

Hopefully you see that the field of canine rehabilitation is much more than just the underwater treadmill for dogs. Although the water treadmill may be effective in a few small cases, in most cases dogs actually recover much faster and better with the skilled supervision of a canine physical therapist. This is exactly why we don’t use the underwater treadmill at Salt Lake Animal Physical Therapy.

For more info on the underwater treadmill for dogs and a couple pitfalls check out Francisco Maia’s blog.

Want to learn more about canine physical therapy:

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