Clean Run - March 2011 - (Page 54)

Hydrotherapy for the Canine Athlete By Debra Canapp, DVM, CCRT, CVA As canine sports continue to grow by leaps and bounds, it is very important that owners, trainers, competitors, and medical staff educate ourselves about proper conditioning techniques for canine athletes, post-injury recovery, and most importantly the prevention of injury. Hydrotherapy, either underwater treadmill or deep water therapy, can be a valuable tool in veterinary rehabilitation and canine athletic conditioning. Like any modality or conditioning tool, it is important to understand its appropriate applications and limitations. cause the resistance of the water to forward motion increases the need to use all four limbs to maintain balance and locomotion. Exercising in water significantly slows down the step pattern, allowing dogs to focus on where they are placing their feet. This helps them use the injured limb to help maintain balance, increase core stability, and eventually improve muscle mass. This is particularly useful for dogs after femoral head ostectomy (hip surgery), cranial cruciate ligament fixation (knee surgery), and neurological patients, to name a few. Most post-surgical and neurologic athletes have a significant degree of muscle atrophy, muscle weakness, and lack of tone. Muscle atrophy and subsequent weakness also occurs secondary to osteoarthritis, especially in older athletes. Underwater treadmill therapy can help these dogs improve their strength and mobility while deep water or swim therapy can provide comfort and resistance to help increase the tone of weak muscles. Common Applications The most common indications for the use of hydrotherapy with the canine athlete include improving muscular strength, improving range of motion in restricted joints, supporting return to function after an injury, conditioning, and weight management. Canine athletes that have suffered orthopedic and neurologic injury or deterioration can benefit from earlier return to function with hydrotherapy. What dictates whether underwater treadmill or deep water therapy is the preferred modality? Comparing the need for controlled weight-bearing versus completely nonweight-bearing activity is a major factor. After that, it may be as simple as the dog prefers one over the other or shows greater range of motion in one type of therapy as compared to the other. Studies show that underwater treadmill activity, in particular, provides a reduced weight-bearing environment that enables increased functional use of a limb without significant weight loading, resulting in less discomfort to a postsurgical joint. An additional benefit is the increased proprioceptive (the sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body) and tactile input provided by the resistance of the water and the treadmill surface. Many dogs that are unwilling to use a limb after injury or neurological dysfunction will use the limb in the water not only because of the increased comfort but also be- © Debra Canapp © stephanie stark © Chess CommuniCations Here a patient can be seen working in the underwater treadmill with the assistance of bumpers to keep him on track. 54 A canine athlete works in the pool against the jets to provide an ultimate conditioning and strengthening environment This patient is working at a water level around the elbows, which is excellent in providing the most resistance with minimal buoyancy to provide a conditioning environment. Clean Run | March 11

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - March 2011

Clean Run - March 2011
Editorializing: Go Get the Dog
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
Who Needs a Training Partner?
Difficult Students, Difficult Dogs, Happy Endings
Ready, Set, Trial! Volunteering at Agility Trials
The Breeders Behind the Dogs
Working on Stimulus Control
Teaching FOCUS and Impulse-Control Classes: Introduction
Power Paws Drills: Long Way, Short Way
Help for Heel Pain: The Facts About Plantar Fasciitis, Part 1
Hydrotherapy for the Canine Athlete
Getting the Biggest Bang for Your Seminar Dollar
When Pigs Fly: You Can Do It
You Know Your Dog Is Aggressive If... Part 5
Want the Best Training Results? Then Play!
Challenges for Rising Stars

Clean Run - March 2011