Lilly Rehabilitation Week 3

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Let the strengthening begin!

So after I identified my old girl was having issues, then confirmed the decrease in muscle with the measurements, it was time to start the old lady boot camp.

The first exercise we have started, is getting her into the underwater treadmill. Ever see those water aerobics classes at the gym? The average age in those classes are collecting social security. There is a good reason for this. Water is wonderful!

One benefit is that the water allows the dog to float decreasing the strain on their legs. This effect is buoyancy. It allows people/dogs with weaker muscles to be able to support their weight for longer periods of time. In essence, it makes them lighter.

The second benefit from water is that it creates hydrostatic pressure. This means it applies pressure to all limbs equally which can help with swelling and help circulation of blood flow.

A third benefit is the heat in the water. These thermal effects help to loosen up the muscles and increase blood flow through the body.

The last is that the water creates surface tension and turbulence which causes resistance. This makes the muscles work harder than if they had to move through air.

There are some contraindications to water therapy. Any open wound or skin infection cannot be put in the water. This could contaminate the tank as well as it is not good for those skin conditions. Some dogs also are heat intolerant so they would not be good candidates. Also, dogs with diarrhea could really mess up the tank in a hurry, so we try to avoid those situations too.

Overall, I love the benefits of water whether it be for recovering from surgery or building muscle and loosening joints like I am working on for Lilly.

Lilly’s gait is very stiff when you look at her in the video. You can tell she is trying to compensate. Hopefully we will be able in time to build up her muscles so she can have a more natural walk but mainly so she can get up easier and navigate stairs better.

– Karen R Pearson, DVM

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