So why do you ask would I encourage my little dog (whom was bred to stay on land and hunt rodents) to swim? Outside of safety reasons, such as falling out of a boat or into a pool, venturing too deep into a lake or river, etc, swimming has incredible therapeutic effects for dogs.
Swimming is a zero-impact exercise that eliminates the forces of gravity on the bones and joints, therefore it is a great form of exercise for every pet, regardless of their age and health status. Water therapy can improve your pet’s cardiovascular health, muscle strength and range of motion. For healthy animals it is a great form of conditioning and a healthy way to release excess energy. For older animals, unhealthy animals, heavy animals, or recovering animals, it has great therapeutic effects for the body (and spirit!)
Fact: According to research, there is a 4:1 ratio of running to swimming. For dogs, 1 minute of swimming is equivalent to 4 minutes of running.
As a rehabilitation modality, it is particularly beneficial for pets with arthritis, for those who are recovering from orthopedic surgery, pets with neurologic disorders, geriatric pets and overweight pets. Pets are in a controlled swimming environment with a therapist, in warm water, which allows for muscle building and strengthening in a controlled, dynamic manner. The combination of warm water with the internal warmth generated by the exercise results in the release of endorphins and serotonin, creating both a therapeutic and calming effect. This makes for a very pleasurable exercise for the ailing animal.
Always consult with your veterinarian before beginning an exercise program for your dog, especially if they are not as healthy or agile as they once were. Swimming in a controlled environment can be very beneficial and fun for your animal. I am looking forward to seeing how my little terrier does in the next few weeks. A little training now will go a long way in her future health and body condition.
Just because you cant see your guardian angel doesn't mean they aren't there.
Joe, an 11 year old boxer, has slowly begun losing stability in his hind end. He does not have a definitive diagnosis, but radiographs (x-rays) of his spine show some significant age related changes - degenerative joint disease, stenosis and arthritic type changes. Unfortunately we do not know if the spinal changes are the cause of his progressing weakness or if there is another disease process occurring; we may never truly know. Despite all, Joe is in incredibly spirits and goes about his day as if nothing is different about him. He still goes for walks, plays at the dog park, enjoys his trips to daycare and endless activities with his dog-mom, Linda.
A few weeks ago, Joe was at the dog park letting loose. Because of his condition, Joe tends to draw a little attention. He trips and gets tangled up in his hind end at times. Fortunately at this visit the the dog park, Joe drew the attention of his guardian angels dog-mom Heidi, whom was at the dog park with her new rescue dog. Heidi began a conversation with Linda stating that she had a boxer by the name of Lucy, whom looked very much like Joe and had similar type symptoms. Lucy was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy (DM) early 2015. Like Joe, she had difficulty controlling her hind end. Unfortunately Lucy's symptoms progressed rather quickly, and as a result she needed her wheels to get around almost full time. She did very well in her chair and got a second chance at life. Sadly, her disease continued to progress and she passed away at the end of summer. After some continued chatting, Linda gave Heidi her number and they went on their own ways. About a month passed, and Linda received a call from Heidi stating that she felt Lucy wanted Joe to have her chair and wanted to know when she could bring it by. Linda scheduled with her a time to come to Petlicious when Joe was having therapy and all was history from there.
Joe got into his new wheels and he was a new man! No more tipping over for Joe. The wheels are currently being used to help keep his hind end up and allow him to move more freely - like a walker (see image below). We want to maintain the muscles and movement that he has, but just give him some assistance when he needs it. We hope that Joe will not need to use the wheel chair full-time, but should that time come, Lucy has given him the freedom to run for as long as possible, courtesy of her wheels.
The moral of the story is, you never know when and where you will meet your guardian angel. You just need to live each day to its fullest and be kind to those around you, because you never know when one of those people may just give you a blessing of a lifetime.
With many thanks and in memory of Lucy the Boxer, Joes guardian angel on the other side of the rainbow bridge.
To learn more about the equipment seen on Joe visit:
Help'em Up Harness
"My strength comes from my abdomen. It's the center of gravity and the source of real power"
As a chiropractor, we have developed an entire field of medicine around the spine, but why? From a functional and performance stand point, mobility and stability must start at the spine. The spine must be flexible enough to adapt to many different situations and stable enough to support the body and transfer power. And what supports the spine? The core.
Core training is the foundation for strength, power, speed and agility training, but is often not focused on in training or addressed when issues arise in the spine or in the extremities. Core training is simply training for movement patterns and stability. So how do we achieve this in our canine athletes, our weekend dog-park warriors or our elderly senior? Simple tricks that help build core strength in a fun way. Today we cover 'Sitting-Pretty'.
Most dogs do not have the muscles to be able to sit pretty without support at first. It can take 2 weeks to over a month to build the muscles for some dogs. Take it slow and don’t rush the exercise. Rushing will not build the stability necessary for spinal support.
By: Jamie Mabeus, DC, cVSMT
Below is a video tutorial that goes over all the steps of how to train this trick! Enjoy!