Hey guys! Now we’re, at a time of year I would deem to be needing of a post such as this. With the weather getting colder a lot of you may notice your dogs start to stiffen up. I know Luna does with her Hip Dysplasia, so over winter we have to up our hydrotherapy game.
We’ve already told you all about the Hydrotherapy Pool sessions at Woozelbears, but this time we’re here to tell you more about the Aquatic Treadmill.
So we all know from last time that before going into Woozelbears for a session we need a referral form from our vets. As we already had one, we’re in! Just a quick call to book an appointment, then time to wait for the day.
On arrival all the usual things happen, we sit in the waiting area until we’re called up by Tavia, our hydrotherapist for the day. Follow Tavia up to the shower tray to get Luna fitted in one of their harnesses and then a thorough rinse, to make sure she’s clean and warm up those muscles!
Luna’s now all ready to get in the treadmill. The treadmill has handy little ramps at both ends, which means no steps for any pups who may struggle with them. When we first started Luna was still very unsure of unknown enclosed spaces. This is where the double doors came in handy, as we were able to let her walk through at her own pace, in and out a few times, before closing one door, and as she didn’t mind we then closed the other. This is also helpful for larger dogs and dogs with spinal conditions as it means they don’t have to turn around to come out. In one door and out the other.
Now she’s in and the water starts to fill up. While this is happening, Tavia is going over Luna’s notes from her previous session, asking me how she has been at home and then planning out todays session. Luna had been pretty good, and despite the colder weather hadn’t been stiff, so today Luna could do a fair few exercises.
We started with a warm up, just walking at a pace which allowed her range of movement to be at its best – which is actually quite a slow and steady pace. You could see as soon as sped up too much, she began to reduce her movement and compensate. The water is also nice and high at this point, to reduce the weight bearing through each limb, but still allow her to walk comfortably and use her muscles correctly. This warm up alone is hard work, and when Luna first started her whole session consisted of walking like this. It took several sessions before she was ready to move on to other exercises.
Next up were Therabands. Luna has reduced flexion from both of her hips, more so the left where she compensates for the right. She also has reduced flexion through both stifles – also likely a form of compensation to shorten the length of time each leg is airborne. Flexion from a hip is the forward motion, and flexion from the stifle (or knee) is the upward motion. To improve this Therabands can be applied just below each hock as shown below.
Following that we had these little flotation devices. These create more resistance, causing the muscles to work harder to move the legs forward through the water, as well as adding extra stimulation like the Theraband does.
Luna’s next interval consisted of boarding her forelimbs on a level platform. This will help improve balance and core stability, as well as increasing extension from hips and stifles. Not only that but this particular technique can be extremely helpful for those with spinal conditions, as the brain is allowed to focus mostly on moving the back limbs, rather than coordinating all four at once. This increases their hindlimb awareness, which is not only helpful for spinal conditions, but it’s actually very helpful for all conditions. Hindlimb awareness is a must for sporting dogs of all kinds too! It can improve performance dramatically.
As Luna did so well with the last exercise, we stepped it up to a slightly raised platform for her forelimbs. This has the same benefits as above but also causes extra weight bearing through the hind limbs, which will help build muscles faster. Luna definitely found this harder that the level board!
Another exercise that can help to improve their range of movement is by guiding the hind limbs. This very gentle exercise allows the hydrotherapist to encourage more movement from each hind limb in the correct motion. Now Luna isn’t keen on having her legs and feet grabbed by anyone, but here she looks completely comfortable, which goes to show just how gentle they are with this exercise, yet is still sees very good results. This allowed correct flexion from Luna’s hips and stifles!
To finish off Luna’s session she had a go with low level water. This will cause increased flexion from most joints as the dog tries to lift each limb higher to avoid working against the resistance of the water, which is increased the lower in the water the limb is. It also increases the weight bearing through each limb.
Now that the session is over it’s time to hop in the spa! Warm down those muscles and help prevent any stiffness after the session. Luna loves the Spa, she’ll either want to play catch or just nod off. Clearly today was a day for catch.
Now it’s time for the usual rinse off and blow dry. Luna doesn’t love a bath, but she doesn’t despise them either. The only part of the pampering that she really loves is sitting in the cabinet dryer, she always snoozes in there!
And we’re all done! Time to pop on Luna’s Ruff and Tumble drying coat and take her home. During the washing process I was talking with Tavia about Luna’s future sessions, and the plan for her rehabilitation, which we do after every session. Along with suggesting home changes for her if necessary.
As always, if you every have any questions for me, drop me a comment. Or if you’d rather chat privately you can DM me on Instagram @colliecomforts. I used to work at Woozelbears, and still have my hydrotherapy qualifications, so if you ever have any hydrotherapy related questions I’m more than happy to help where I can. The only reason for my leaving was developing an allergy to the Chlorine – extremely frustrating as I seriously miss this job!
Let me know if you have any suggestions for future blog posts!
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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Hi guys! So for today’s post I though I would throw in a bit of variety from the usual “how to trick tutorials” and talk a bit more about Luna. Now I’ve spoken briefly in the past about Luna’s Hip Dysplasia, but let’s go into a bit more depth. Luna has Bilateral (BL) Hip Dysplasia (HD), BL meaning it is on both sides. Clinically she is almost equal, only ever so slightly worse through her right hind (RH), however symptomatically she always was considerably worse through her RH and left fore (LF). The reason for her LF is that she used to use it to compensate. Now without sounding big-headed – it’s going to, I’m sorry – most pet owners probably wouldn’t have picked up the signs that I would until much later in life. However working in the hydrotherapy we learned a lot about gait analysis, so I started picking up on a few subtle signs – slightly less extension through her left hip (extension from a join is how far it “opens”), very occasional bunny hoping and a lack of flexion (how much a joint “closes”) from her LF. In this time she never actually limped, but I was a paranoid mother and I was straight off to the vets for an examination, which further led to an X-Ray and diagnosis.
At this point I was pretty devastated as we had just started competing in agility and were placing after just 3 shows. But I wasn’t really that concerned about competing, I was more concerned about just how much she loved agility. Luna’s always loved to trick train, but anything high energy really hits the spot for her. Of course I backed off from the agility altogether initially. I was thankful that I had found out as early as I did, as HD cannot be cured, but the earlier it is found, the better it can be managed to create a better quality of life immediately as well as in the future.
So how did we go about treating Luna’s new-found condition? Well I was also thankful that I was in the position that I was! I was a fully qualified hydrotherapist at Woozelbears Hydrotherapy when I found out, which meant super easy access to great rehabilitation for Luna! When we found out, we measured Luna’s muscle mass, she had muscle loss through both hind limbs (right was 2 cm small then her left) and excess muscle through her LF (1cm) where she was compensating. Certain muscles were also really tense where they had either been supporting the joint or used as compensation. So we started Luna’s hydrotherapy program with 2 sessions a week in the pool at first to help reduce the inflammation as much as possible. After a few weeks we then moved her over the aquatic treadmill (a treadmill that fills up with water) as her muscles had become more supple and she had gained a small amount of muscle. The treadmill will still help to reduce inflammation thanks to the natural properties of the water but the treadmill will build muscle much faster than the pool as well as help to retrain their gait as it makes it much harder for them to compensate. I won’t bore you with all the in-depth stuff but if you want to know more drop me a message! Woozelbears also had a gait analysis treadmill, with pressure sensors under the belt, which helped us to track her progress very carefully, and tailor her hydro program to suit her, with the correct exercises and amount of hydro that she needed.
So I’ve spoken a lot about the hydrotherapy just now, but it wasn’t just the hydrotherapy that helped Luna. The vets immediately offered me NSAID’s when we found out, which I was absolutely not happy about and neither were they with her being so young. So I set out to find a more natural alternative, which is when I found out that turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory. Upon finding this I then found out about Golden Paste (GP), which helps with a lot of ailments in both humans and animals. Golden paste contains turmeric powder, coconut oil, water and black pepper, if you want to find out more or how to make it please click here. So I got Luna on the Turmeric paste, as well as a glucosamine supplement. There are so many different glucosamine supplements on the market, and I treated dogs on many of them in my time as a hydrotherapist. Some have minimal effect, most work, some work well and some work really well across all cases. The one I had seen the most positive cases with was Yumove. It was the only glucosamine supplement on the market at the time that was clinically proven, and it contains many other ingredients – such as Green Lipped Mussel and Chondroitin – that are beneficial to joints and muscles. You can find out more about what ingredients are included and the benefits by visiting their website.
On top of all this we had to restrict many aspects of her life throughout her rehabilitation. This included preventing her from jumping up onto furniture, into the car, not allowing her to use stairs, shortening her walks drastically etc. We also had to start including a lot more on lead walking – not only to prevent sharp turns and high speeds, but lead walking helps to build a lot more of the correct muscles that you might think, because dogs find it harder to compensate at a slower speed. We also had to remove ball throwing – potentially one of the best things I did for both collies was much less ball throwing, I didn’t realise at the time the negative effect it can have on their mental state, creating an obsessive and fixating mind. Okay in the right amounts, everything in moderation as they say! The agility was scrapped, and so were our 4 hour treks across the countryside! Luna’s life changed massively, and honestly she wasn’t happy at first. Some people and trainers like to say that dogs “can’t/won’t resent you” but I swear she was sulking, I don’t care what the naysayers will say. That dog was sulking and she hated me the most in that time. I definitely got less affection off her, but other people in her life still got the usual amount, it felt like the bond had been broken. BUT it was for her own good! She wouldn’t be where she is now if we hadn’t done all this!
Anyway I wanted to fix the bond between me and her that had been broken, which is where I began to dip my toes in with my first bit of trick training. Of course she already had all the basic commands, and knew a couple of tricks, but I thought back to when she was learning them all and she used to love it. So I introduced trick training back into her life. I had to tailor the tricks around her hips to make sure she wasn’t going to cause them any harm, but there were plenty that we could do. As I soon found out a lot of tricks are actually great for helping to build muscle, if you want help or more info about this be sure to ask, I’m always happy to help when I can. Before I knew it Luna was much happier in herself and she was close to being back to her usual crazy, loving self!
A few months passed and Luna had improved considerably! She was down to needing only once weekly hydro sessions after the third week and continued at this until this point. The Golden Paste (GP) and glucosamine had really taken effect, as had all her life changes, and her muscle had improved greatly! Her muscle mass had increased through both hind limbs and her right was now almost equal to her left, with there only being 5 mm difference. Her left shoulder was now equal with her right too where she had stopped compensating, but with all this muscle work both her shoulders had increased! Her range of movement had improved too, flexion and extension of all joints. At this point we started to gradually reduce her hydro, down to once a fortnight and start lifting those mean life restrictions one at a time. If anything set her back at any point we just went back a step and continued for longer until trying again. Eventually she no longer needed hydro, providing I perform regular exercises with her at home – given by a physiotherapist – as well as continuing her glucosamine and GP.
Luna can do much more again, and we regularly keep an eye on her to ensure we aren’t causing her any discomfort, looking for all the subtle signs, especially when we introduce something new or ask a lot of her! She’s a classic case of the mind is willing but the body is not! Luna now leads the life of a normal dog most of the time, and it’s all thanks to her strict rehabilitation program. It makes me sad when I can see a dog that is clearly in discomfort but the owner is uneducated, blind or just ignorant. I know a lot of this isn’t cheap, and circumstances change so you can’t always afford what you could when you first got a dog. But at least do what you can, and especially don’t expect them to walk miles and shout at them when they can’t keep up! For those people I hope a flock of seagulls crap on you simultaneously while your mouth is open. It’s cruel and I wish I could take your dog away from you. But if you do have insurance a lot of this is likely to be covered within your policy! Luna’s was all covered by Direct Line for us!
If you ever have any questions about rehabilitating hip dysplasia, or any other clinical conditions or injuries, or if you just want some moral support, please drop me a comment or message. You can message me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, although I’m most active on Instagram!
Next up: Luna’s Hydrotherapy Session at Woozelbears! We’ll be writing about one of our recent trips to Woozelbears for Luna’s hydrotherapy session. Be sure not to miss it by following us pr subscribing to our emails! Blog posts only, no junk, I hate that crap!