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Benefits of Consistent Fitness for Older Dogs

Updated on June 7, 2014

How We Started Swimming

We tried our first class on a whim because I did not believe in dog spas or water therapy at all.

However, we were stunned at how attentive our therapist was with Titan and how she constantly assessed his ability during that first swim to meet goals fitted to Titan’s mobility and quality of life. To date, we swim once a week, and these are the reasons why we keep going and the benefits Titan (and us) are getting.

  • Physical Fitness – Titan’s gait and strength are so limited on land, he can’t run, or go for long walks. Working his legs in the buoyancy of water gives him the ability to exercise friction free. In the water he swims vigorously and enjoys himself

  • Mental Fitness – Due to physical limitation, Titan has also experienced a decrease in socializing and exploring the outside. Taking him on this “adventure” once a week, gives him a new place to explore every week. He enjoys new smells and look forward to socializing out of the house with his therapist, Tanya. He gets excited for his swim when you say “ready to go see Tanya?!” He jumps up and tries to get out of bed!

  • Walking Tall – For the following few days after swimming Titan does walk stronger, but then weakens again as his weekly swimming appointment approaches again. In Titan’s situation, his condition is progressive so we swim to maintain quality of life. However, aqua therapy has had more permanent and lasting results for dog’s with other conditions such as hip dysplasia, and even joint surgery

  • A Dog’s Sense of Self – This point is debatable depending on how much you think your dog has a concept of self. But it seems that especially earlier on as we swam regularly and Titan had better results because his condition had progressed to its present state, he did feel more youthful. He was happier with is new found strength on walks and even would attempt to playfully lunge at birds again, which he hadn’t done in a very long time. He even liked to play with a chew toy after his swims, long after he had stopped playing altogether

Titan finishing a lap.  The wooden bench submerged in the water is a tool for the trainer to help with limb message
Titan finishing a lap. The wooden bench submerged in the water is a tool for the trainer to help with limb message

What to Consider to Maximize The Therapy?

It comes down to the aqua therapist. Find a trainer whose personality and goals for your dog are congruent with your own. They should be confident in their training. You want a good aqua therapist to:

  • A great therapist should ask about a personal account of your dog’s health history, health issues, surgeries, and current medications, for example.

  • Work with you and your dog to achieve weekly, or session goals. Be open to modifying exercises and goals as situations arise and change

  • Be consistent. Keep the same schedule and appointments so your dog only works with the therapist you both like best and you all can have a long-term professional relationship with lasting benefits

Titan - reflecting on his swimming experience
Titan - reflecting on his swimming experience

See How Aqua Therapy Has Helped Others

Aqua Therapy For Palliative Symptom Management

In Titan`s situation we are merely seeking symptomatic management at this time. But people may chose aqua therapy for a variety of aliments and results.

It is a joy to watch him drill through the water with the ease that he lacks on land. In Titan’s case, each day he is with us is a gift. Time has been generous.

Please Share Your Story Of An Aging Dog Here

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