Benefits of Swimming?
The benefits of swimming for dogs
are very similar to those for humans. Swimming involves the use of almost
all the muscles required for movement, without the concussive stresses
of walking or running. Also, because water resistance is greater than
air resistance, the muscles have to work harder.
It may surprise you
to know that for a dog, 1 minutes' swimming is equivalent to about 4 minutes
of running, according to Dr Arleigh Reynolds, a Veterinary Surgeon and
However, swimming has
the benefit of achieving this level of work on the muscles, improving
strength and tone, and working the cardio-vascular and respiratory systems,
without the impact of unsupported exercise, with the associated damage
that can cause.
In fit dogs, swimming can be used as a supplementary form of exercise
to improve strength and stamina. Once used to swimming, most dogs enjoy
it, at the same time as improving their fitness. Stronger, toned muscles
help to protect dogs against injuries sustained during normal exercise,
such as running or chasing a ball, or during more demanding exercise
such as agility and flyball. Swimming should be used in conjunction with
normal exercise to ensure the dogs' bones are also kept strong and prepared
for exercise on land.
For dogs with medical conditions that restrict or prohibit normal, concussive
exercise, swimming is vital.
For example, in the case of a Total Hip Replacement operation, it is important
to build up the supporting muscle prior to the operation. However, walking
and running are unsuitable forms of exercise, whereas swimming enables
supported, non-concussive exercise to build the muscles. And after the
operation when exercise is limited, swimming can increase the amount of
exercise done and help recovery to normal fitness.
For conditions such as osteo-arthritis, hip-dysplasia, OCD & CDRM,
swimming provides weightless exercise to improve joint movement, increase
circulation and build supporting muscle, where walking on hard ground
can be uncomfortable and cause lameness.
For weight loss, swimming provides a form of supported exercise, enabling
good use of muscles and improving the metabolic rate. It can be difficult
to give an overweight dog sufficient exercise on land without over-stressing
bones and joints, so swimming is an excellent complementary exercise.
As with any fitness programme, you should expect to start gently and increase
the exercise over time. Don't be surprised if your dogs only swim for
a few minutes or a few short bursts to begin with. Gradually, as their
fitness improves, they will be able to swim longer with fewer rests.
Finally, our water is heated to the optimum temperature for canine hydrotherapy.
This helps relaxation and assists blood flow. It also helps to reduce
muscle spasm and improve the dogs' range of movement. And, of course,
it is more comfortable for the dogs, making swimming in a heated pool
much more enjoyable. The more they enjoy it, the harder they tend to work,
and the more benefit they get from it. And that means we, their loving
owners, enjoy it too.