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Is Swimming Good for Senior Dogs?

As your dog gets older, exercise can be a little more difficult for them than it used to be.

But just because you and your senior pooch can’t go hitting the long and extensive trails you used to, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on exercise completely. 

Your dog may have loved swimming as an adult, but you may have noticed stiffness or the early signs of arthritis in the hind legs. So it’s reasonable to ask yourself if swimming is good for senior dogs.

Is swimming good for senior dogs

“For us senior dogs, regular exercise is important, it helps to keep us fit and healthy, and keeps our muscles strong, which helps us to live better lives!”

Swimming is a popular choice for senior dogs as it helps to remove the weight from their joints, allowing them to exercise without causing pain. 

This is also why many vets will recommend hydrotherapy, which is great for dogs suffering from arthritis or experiencing especially severe joint pain, as they still need to get their exercise in. 

“In this guide, my humans will help to give you all the information you need about taking us senior dogs swimming that you could ever need. Woof woof!”

Key Takeaways

  • Swimming and other water-based activities are an excellent way of providing exercise for your senior dog
  • Some of the benefits include increased joint mobility and muscle strength, a reduction in stress and anxiety, as well as improved cardio health
  • If you think your dog could benefit from hydrotherapy, contact your veterinarian, who will be able to put you in touch with a specialist

Benefits Of Swimming For Senior Dogs

“My human says that there are a load of benefits of swimming for us senior pooches!”

Swimming is one of the best ways to ensure that your senior dog gets the regular exercise they need to stay healthy and strong, and if you’re curious about some of the specific benefits, check out this list below! 

Low Impact Exercise

One of the biggest benefits of swimming for senior dogs is that it’s low impact. This means that your dog isn’t having a load of weight and pressure placed on their weaker joints. 

They’ll be less likely to be in pain after their exercise, making them happier overall!

Improved Joint Mobility

Swimming can be great at helping a senior dog to reclaim some of its lost joint mobility. By having their weight supported by the water, they can strengthen their joints through exercise without causing any stress. 

“It’s good for me, and I get to chase the other dogs in the water too!”

Improved Cardiovascular Health

taking your senior dog swimming, you’ll be able to ensure that this decline isn’t as sharp as it would usually be. 

“Woof! I feel just like a puppy again!”

Reduced Stress And Anxiety

A lack of exercise can cause a lot of stress and anxiety in your dog, which is why regularly taking them swimming will help them to feel able to move again. This helps to release endorphins and ease the tension in their muscles too.

“I don’t know about end.. endophins or whatever they are, I just like to splash!”

Improved Muscle Strength

By allowing your dog to take the weight off of their joints and exercise, they can strengthen their muscles in a way that doesn’t cause any harm to their body. 

This will strengthen their muscles as they swim and help them in other areas of life too. 

Hydrotherapy For Senior Dogs

Hydrotherapy For Senior Dogs​

If your dog enjoys swimming but still struggles with mobility, then you might want to consider hydrotherapy. This is a great way to ensure your dog can exercise without hurting their joints! 

What Is Hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapy is a form of physical therapy that involves removing the weight bearing on the joints when exercising by using the dog’s buoyancy in the water as they exercise. 

“I’ve never seen such a weird beach before, there’s no sand or rocks, but at least I get to splash in the water!”

How Does Hydrotherapy Work?

Hydrotherapy works by having the dog do controlled exercises or walking on a treadmill under the water. 

Because the dog’s joints are relieved of any pressure, they can exercise without pain, which can be one of the major deterrents in older dogs’ ability to exercise.

Types Of Hydrotherapy For Senior Dogs

There are many types of hydrotherapy for senior dogs, so depending on your dog’s needs, you can choose which one is right for them. 

Basic swimming is the first type and allows them to get a full workout of their body to improve their joint and cardiovascular health. 

Using an underwater treadmill is another form of hydrotherapy and is used to help a senior pooch run or walk in a controlled environment without putting pressure on their joints. It’s also great for dogs that are rehabilitating an injury. 

Finally, whirlpool therapy is another form of hydrotherapy used on senior dogs. It involves jets of water used to massage the dog’s body, which can be used to treat swelling and tension by increasing circulation. 

Benefits Of Hydrotherapy For Senior Dogs

“When I go to hydrotherapy, I notice a whole load of benefits, which means that it might just work for your doggy friend too!”

Some of the major benefits of hydrotherapy for senior dogs include improved joint mobility, pain relief, increased range of motion, improved cardiovascular health, as well as an anxiety reduction.

Is Swimming Good for Senior Dogs?

Swimming For Dogs With Arthritis And Joint Issues​

Arthritis is one of the most common issues that plague senior canine friends, but how can swimming help dogs that suffer from arthritis and joint issues? 

How Swimming Can Help Help Dogs With Arthritis And Joint Issues

If your dog is suffering from arthritis or joint issues, then there are many ways in which swimming can help!

The buoyancy of the water will help to reduce the pressure put on your dog’s joints, allowing them to exercise with a full range of motion, which in turn helps to strengthen their muscles and support themselves better out of the water. 

This can also help your dog lose weight, making the arthritis easier to deal with. As your dog ages and does less exercise, it can be natural for them to put some weight on, but swimming will help to keep your dog lean and fit. 

Precautions To Take When Swimming With A Dog With Arthritis And Joint Issues

Firstly, contact your vet. They’ll be able to tell you whether or not swimming is safe for your dog, and they may even put you in contact with a physical therapist for hydrotherapy. 

Life jackets are also essential, even if your dog used to be a strong swimmer. Arthritis and joint issues can cause your dog’s ability to swim to deteriorate, which means that a life jacket will keep them floating no matter what. 

“I don’t know why I have to wear this big jacket, but I think it kind of suits me!”

You should also ensure that the area you’re swimming in is safe. Try to avoid areas with potentially poisonous plants, sharp rocks, or strong currents! 

Finally, always dry your dog afterwards, especially around its paws and ears, as this will help to prevent any infections. 

“I like to shake myself dry, but my human always insists on the big blue towel. It’s nice when it’s warm out of the dryer too.”

How To Properly Introduce Your Dog To Swimming With Arthritis Or Joint Issues

Introducing your dog to swimming can take time, especially if they’ve never really swum before. 

To start, introduce your dog to shallow water first. This can be in a bathtub or wading pool, which will allow them to get used to being wet. 

Next, you can use things such as toys and treats to ease them into deeper water, praising them when they get in, which will help them to attribute it as something positive. 

Once your dog is comfortable in shallow water, begin to use a life jacket and lead them into deep areas so that they can begin swimming. 

Only swim for short periods or distances at first, increasing it gradually. 

Always be sure to end each swim with plenty of praise and treats to encourage your dog to participate further!

Additional Specialists For Senior Dogs

Additional Specialists For Senior Dogs​

Senior dogs can suffer from a lot of issues in their later years, and your vet might not be able to solve them all, which is why specialists exist. 

These can include physical therapists and rehabilitation specialists, all of whom are happy to help get your dog the treatment they need! 

“I don’t like the idea of meeting the friends of the vet, but I also want to spend more time with my human, so I’ll put up with it!”

The Role Of A Physical Therapist In Senior Dog Care

A physical therapist’s role is to help your dog’s physical condition in any way they can. This might involve things like hydrotherapy and working with you as an owner to create a routine exercise plan to keep your dog fit and healthy. 

The Benefits Of Working With A Rehabilitation Specialist

Working with a rehabilitation specialist can have many benefits. They’re trained and qualified in their field, which means they’ll be able to assess your dog’s needs and provide them with the right treatment for each case. 

They’ll also help you understand more about your dog’s condition so that you can make the necessary adjustments needed to improve their quality of life. 

When To Consider Seeing A Specialist

If your senior pooch’s health or mobility has begun to deteriorate, or you have any specific concerns about their behavior, then your vet will be able to provide you with an assessment and will put you in contact with the right specialists. 

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