Northern Virginia Animal Swim Center
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Dog Rebilitation
Just as swimming and other forms of hydrotherapy are universally recognized by the medical community in the treatment of humans, the same principles and therapeutic values can be applied to dogs.

b/w dog By placing the dog in the weightless environment that water or swimmingprovides, injuries or conditions can be better treated without the pain orrestricted movement associated with regular ground-based exercise programs.

Swimming for dogs can be applied to a wide range of conditions, such as:

  • Hip dysplasia: Swimming for dogs with hip dysplasia provides an alternative form of exercise from the painful effects of ground exercise programs. Swimming provides the opportunity for a high-level workout that builds and maintains the muscle tone and strength to help avoid further deterioration of the hip joint. Swimming can be used both pre- and post-surgery in hip replacement to provide increased circulation, build up muscle and provide a firm base for recovery.

  • Ligament Repair: Swimming following surgery to repair torn ligaments (cruciates) provides a non-weight-bearing exercise to strengthen the repair, helping to restore natural limb movement. Swimming rebuilds lost muscle tone, provides increased circulation, and builds the dog's confidence to return to normal activities.

  • Spinal disk/nerve damage: Swimming, following surgery, stabilization or repair of the disk, can increase the speed of recovery, providing increased circulation (oxygen) to the limbs and to the damaged area. Where paralysis is evident, swimming will promote movement of the limbs and increased nerve synapse and regeneration.

  • Arthritis: The non-weight-bearing environment of swimming provides the dog with a pain-free exercise routine. The full range of motion obtainable in the weightlessness of water allows joints to move more freely and muscles to stretch and become more flexible than being constrained in the limited motion provided by painful ground exercises.

  • Paralysis: The benefits of swimming in paralysis depends on the cause of the paralysis, the extent of nerve damage and the time elapsed since paralysis occurred. The earlier swimming can be started, the better prognosis for return of nerve function and limb movement.

  • Muscle atrophy: Muscle atrophy occurs when the limb is inactive or immobilized. Swimming can start re-building muscle mass in as little as three or four sessions. The full range of motion of the swimming stroke allows tight, contracted muscles, tendons and ligaments to stretch out and become supple and flexible once again.

  • Weight reduction: Swimming in conjunction with a proper diet (no table scraps, please) will help remove those excess pounds, tone up the muscles and cardiovascular system and give you a healthier and happier dog.

  • Post surgery: Swimming, before or following surgical procedures,can speed recovery in many cases and avoid or minimize some of the complications that can develop such as:

    • Restricted movement or use following joint surgery, i.e. crutiate ligament repair/replacement, OCD (Osteochondritis Dissecans), hip replacement etc.
    • Adhesions (scarring)
    • Muscle loss (atrophy)
    • Arthritis

Contact information and directions to our facilities.

In any pre- or post-surgical application of swimming, your veterinarian should be consulted before swimming begins.

Swimming Programs

brown dogRehabilitation swimming programs are developed for each individual dog based on the condition being treated.

Typically, the first session is a familiarization session to get the dog used to the environment and gain confidence in the swimming process. All dogs know how to swim but must build confidence in their ability and surroundings before a specific program is applied.

The dog starts out in the Center's training pool, a long trough approximately 40 feet long by 6 feet wide and 4 feet deep. A chest and shoulder harness, with a lead attached, provides support; and the dog is led down a gradual sloping entry into the water where it swims to the other side and up another gradual slope out of the water. This process is repeated until the dog is comfortable and confident with entering the water, swimming and exiting the pool. Usually, about four or five times is sufficient.

Normally it is not necessary to get into the water with the dog, but for dogs with restricted limb movement, paralysis or special needs, Center staff will work with the dog in the water to stimulate the swimming process and maintain their confidence.

The frequency and duration of the swimming sessions depend on the condition being treated and can vary from swimming twice a day to twice a week. For most conditions we suggest at least three or four times a week to start, but this can vary according to the owner's schedule and the distance they have to travel.

The average rehabilitation requires about 15 swimming sessions, with each session lasting up to 30 minutes. Owners are encouraged to participate in the rehabilitation by swimming their dog with the guidance of Center staff and learning exercises to perform at home on the dog between swimming sessions.

Contact information and directions to our facilities.

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35469 Millville Road, Middleburg, VA 20117
Telephone: 540-687-6816   FAX: 540-687-8025

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