Just as swimming is an excellent way to get fit for humans, it is also good for dogs and horses. Swimming provides an aerobic workout that strengthens the heart and lungs, cuts weight, tones and builds up muscles, and provides an enjoyable break from the normal exercise routine. For animals that have leg, foot, muscular or skeletal problems that make exercise painful, or are rehabilitating following surgery or injury, swimming provides a weight free form of exercise that promotes healing.
All animals have the natural ability to swim, but they must learn “water confi- dence.” Like any new experience, an animal must be introduced to water and shown that it is nothing to fear. With a little patience and reassurance, even traditional “non-water” dogs can be taught water confidence, and be swimming to recover from injury or surgery. Dogs also can enjoy a dip in the sea, join their owners in the family pool, or retrieve at the local pond or creek.
Veterinarians recommend swimming for treatment more for dogs than for horses. Dogs with hip/elbow dysplasia, arthritis, muscle atrophy, weight loss, etc., can benefit significantly from the weightless environment that swimming provides. Used in rehabilitation after surgery for broken bones, nerve damage, torn ligaments, etc., swimming can shorten the recovery time. In many cases, such rehab works better than mere cage or stall rest or limited ground exercise.
Compliments of Northern Virginia Animal Swim Center, 540-687-6816 www.animalswimcenter.com