Hey guys, welcome back! Our last blog post was all about Luna’s Hip Dysplasia, and a brief overview of her rehabilitation. We mentioned quite a bit about the hydrotherapy, so I thought it would be good to show you a full pool session at Woozelbears! Before we start, if you want to learn a bit more about Luna’s Hip Dysplasia, you can do so here.
Now with the Hydrotherapy, you can’t just rock up on the day and expect them to be able to squeeze you in for a swim! First off, the Hydrotherapy Centre will need a referral form from your vets, even if it’s just a fun swim! You will have needed to been in for a recent checkup, so everything is up to date. It will tell them all about your pup, whether they are healthy, or whether they have had any problems in the past that may affect the hydrotherapy – for example, a heart murmur, or a previous muscle injury that isn’t related to the condition that they have been referred for. All these things are crucial for the hydrotherapist to know before the session begins.
For her most recent trip, Luna needed an updated referral form as she hadn’t been for so long! So off we went to the vets for a checkup. Even though Luna is a sensitive soul, she doesn’t hate going into the vets, thanks to choosing the right surgery for her and desensitisation. She doesn’t mind being poked and prodded terribly, unless it’s her hips, which means I have to really keep her focus when the vet is testing her flexion and extension. We got the go-ahead from the vet for Luna to return to hydrotherapy! He filled out the referral form for us and sent it straight off to Woozelbears.
Time to book in an appointment! I called up to book her in, and get your pen and paper ready when doing so. Not only so you can write your time and date down, but so you can jot down the information they need to give you, which includes feeding times around the hydrotherapy, exercise restrictions on the day, what to do if your pup is ill etc. It is all crucial! I had one case where the pooch was fed too close to the appointment, and the owner neglected to tell me! This is a messy affair because if it is too soon, the pressure of the water may lead to them bringing up their breakfast. Not to mention other health issues it can potentially cause. But if you take all their advice then of course you and your pup will be perfectly safe.
Hydrotherapy day! The big day was here, so we packed all the essentials – Luna-safe-and-approved treats, drying coat, her special shampoo, muzzle (in case we had to pass other dogs, although the team are very good at preventing this from happening) and collar and lead! When we arrived I left Luna in the car outside the building to check that the coast was clear from any other dogs. There were a couple of forms to fill out and sign, as well as a few important questions from the hydrotherapist about Luna’s lifestyle – how she is at home, how much exercising she does, whether she has any allergies etc. Once all the forms were completed, I went to get Luna from the car, who was so excited once she realised where she was!
We sat in the waiting area until Lianne, our hydrotherapist for the session, called us up. Luna was extremely alert coming through the gate, and pulled me up to the top! Lianne fitted her with a life jacket – Luna used to swim in a harness, but we gave her the extra buoyancy initially as she hasn’t swam in warm water for so long. It was then into the bath for a shower off, to make sure there was no dirt in her coat and also to warm up her muscles for the session.
After the shower, Luna then started whining because she realised she was going into her favourite thing, the pool! Lianne jumped in the pool, ready to help Luna in from the inside, while another hydrotherapist held onto Luna on the outside so she was safe going up the ramp and gently into the pool. We all know Luna by now, she’d have jumped in from the top given half a chance! Nutter! How do you explain to her that this is not dock diving after a summer of leaping?
Once in the water Luna was asked to stand in the water for a moment to help her muscles acclimatise to the temperature of the water further while she had a little massage to loosen up her muscles. Then it was time to go, did she really remember it after all this time?
She sure did, and Lianne had to hold Luna back! Otherwise I think she might have jumped all the way to the end of the pool! Lianne then performed figure of eights up and down the length of the pool to ensure Luna was using the muscles in both sides of her body equally. After a one minute interval it was back to the ramp for a rest and another massage. But Luna doesn’t much like the idea of rest, so she’s kept entertained with a bit of ball catching while she waits.
Rest is crucial, even for a dog that swims a lot in the cold waters of our country. Swimming in warm water is different as the temperature causes the blood vessels to dilate, meaning more blood will flow around the body to their muscles. In turn this causes their cardiovascular system to work harder, so they get out of breath much faster! But it’s a non-weight bearing exercise, which means a great workout for the muscles but minimal-no stress on the joints. Not only that but the temperature and pressure of the water helps to reduce inflammation within the joint.
After the rest it’s back to swimming. I think Luna successfully soaked Lianne with every entry back into the water, best hope she had a change of clothes! As you can see Lianne has a stopwatch to carefully time the amount of swimming Luna does. Despite her Hip Dysplasia, she’s a very active dog and has done hydrotherapy before. Luna managed 7 one minute intervals within her half hour session, which is a lot for a first time back! Depending on their fitness, many dogs will only be asked to perform 4-6 shorter intervals of around 20-30 seconds in their first swim. But they still get the full 30 mins in the pool (providing they are not stressed), just standing in the water is great, as it lets the natural properties of the water take effect and they get a good massage in that time too.
The life-jacket really is crucial, as you can see here Luna’s back-end is starting to “sink” into the water more than usual. The life-jacket prevents her rear from dropping too much as this would put too much strain through her back muscles. All dogs in their first session int he pool will wear a life-jacket until their legs and other muscles needed are strong enough to keep them level.
Next up, exercises! There aren’t a huge amount of different exercises that can be performed in the pool, most are performed in the aquatic treadmill (which fills up with water). But the balance board can be introduced in the pool, which is fantastic for dogs that compensate. The balance board makes them use all their legs equally – provided they are central on the board. And if you want them to use a specific leg more to increased use and muscle you can tilt the board slightly towards that leg. Luna has less muscle in her right hind so the board was tilted slightly back and right to engage those muscles. Some dogs require an extra helping hand, so two hydrotherapists would be in the pool to support them, but Luna knew exactly what she had to do, even though it had been almost 2 years!
After all this exercise it’s time to get out and into the spa! The spa is basically a hot tub for dogs, neat right? But it has many beneficial qualities, again they are stood in water, so all the same as above applies. On top of that, the bubbles massage their muscles and help them to relax after all that hard work, helping to remove lactic acid and to help prevent them from becoming too stiff after the session. The stiffness is very likely to set in regardless but this will help it from being too severe. The reason for the stiffness, even after what seems like a small amount of exercise, is that they are using muscles that they have likely not used for ages! Especially pups with injuries or clinical conditions.
Once we’re finished in the spa it’s time for another shower down to warm down the muscles and rinse the chlorine out of their coat. Woozelbears offer a complimentary shampoo once a month, but no more than this unless it’s a prescribed shampoo, otherwise you can cause dry skin by over-shampooing! Shampooing too often is something I see very regularly, causing dry flaky skin or itchy spots. By shampooing too often you take many natural oils out of the coat, causing all sorts of problems. Luna just had a thorough rinse off as she had recently had a shampoo at home.
After your rinse or shampoo it’s time to dry off, first they towel them down with their super absorbent Aquasorb Towel! Woozelbears offer a range of drying equipment. They seem to have an endless supply of towels, as well as a quiet blow dryer and a huge blaster for the more confident dogs! Most are unsure to start, Luna was herself initially but over her first few sessions we managed to build her up to the big dryer. And now she quite enjoys it! They also have a cabinet dryer, which the dogs can sit in while air is blown more quietly all around them. While in the cabinet they are watched at all times, and not left in there for any more than 10 minutes at a time. They are a very handy piece of equipment if used safely!
Blow dry complete, it’s time to get all our gear back on! To prevent Luna from getting cold when she goes back outside, and to absorb those last bits of moisture, we bought her a Ruff and Tumble Dog Drying Coat from Woozelbears. These are perfect at this time of year, ours comes everywhere with us now that the rainy and muddy seasons are staring to kick in. Along with our Aquasorb that we mentioned earlier. You can purchase the Aquasorb online here. But if you want a Ruff and Tumble Drying coat you’ll have to get in contact with Woozelbears via phone or email to see what they have in stock. It’s worth doing at the moment too as they’re offering 10% off all Ruff and Tumble coats! Get yours before it’s too late! All the contact details for Woozelbears can be found below.
That’s our full hydrotherapy session complete, Luna stopped for a quick pose outside before hoping back into the car and I went back in to speak to the therapist about her future program. Being happy with her session in the pool, it was decided that Luna’s next session would be back over to the aquatic treadmill! The treadmill offers different benefits to the pool, which I will run through with you next time. The hydrotherapists are very thorough in planning out a program for each individual dog. Bearing in mind that they see many injuries and clinical conditions, such as Cruciate Ligament Ruptures/Tears/Repairs, Elbow Dysplasia, Osteoarthritis, Paralysis, Muscle Tears etc. There are so many conditions they have to cater for, and no two cases are ever the same!
We hope you enjoyed reading about Luna’s hydrotherapy session. As always if you have any questions please leave us a comment, or message us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. I’m always happy to help with any of your queries or concerns, especially if related to hydrotherapy. I used to be a hydrotherapist myself, but sadly a chlorine allergy meant I had to leave the career behind. Gutted is an understatement! If anyone finds a cure or needs a tester for chlorine allergies let me know!
I know most of you that read my blog like your social media, and you can find Woozelbears on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Be sure to follow them to get updates on their lovely patients. If you check out their Facebook, you might just be able to make a last minute entry into their giveaway, which ends today!
Get in contact with Woozelbears, Witney Branch:
Phone: 01993 772 882
Mobile: 07792 049758
Address: Unit 5 • Eagle Industrial Estate
Church Green • Witney • Oxon • OX28 4YR
If you live closer to Swindon, they have a branch there too!
Phone: 01793 953 222
Address: Unit 11 • River Ray Industrial Estate
Barnfield Road • Swindon • Wiltshire • SN2 2DT
Woozelbears also have a shop! Lots of goodies on offer, treats, food, toys, supplements, accessories and beds (including orthopedic beds). What more could you need?
And to finish off, some more photo’s of Luna enjoying herself.
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