Everything You Need to Know about Swimming for Dogs

Dog swimming is a complete form of exercise to strengthen their muscles with little impact on their bones and joints.
Everything You Need to Know about Swimming for Dogs

Last update: 22 September, 2020

Swimming is a wholesome activity for dogs. This is because it’s a highly effective form of exercise, besides helping them to cool down during the hot season.

This kind of exercise has many benefits for your pet. However, you should keep in mind that not all dogs are willing to get into the water. Thus, it should be a progressive process in which the animal associates the activity with a pleasant experience. Continue reading to find out what some of its benefits are.

Benefits of swimming for dogs

1. Weight loss

Like any other physical activity, swimming can help your dog to lose weight. Also, thanks to the buoyancy of most living things in the water, there’s no impact on the animal’s osteoarticular system. The bones and joints don’t support the weight of an animal as they do on land, and so they’re free from possible tensions or excessive effort.

2. Increase in muscle tone

Water has more resistance than air and forces the animal to do more with their muscles in order to perform the same movement. This is great, because it increases their muscle tone. For this reason, intense swimming is one of the five forms of exercise that produce the most energy expenditure and general musculature.

3. Swimming improves a dog’s respiratory and cardiovascular system

The animal can practice this form of exercise at a low or moderate intensity. In fact, it’ll improve their respiratory and cardiovascular capacity over time. A continuous effort strengthens the lung capacity of living beings. In addition, it teaches them to control their respiratory rhythms more effectively.

4. The therapeutic benefits of swimming for dogs

This form of exercise is also recommended for relieving the effects of some musculoskeletal diseases and for the post-surgical recovery from different illnesses, such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Paralysis
  • Muscle degeneration
  • Cruciate ligament tear
  • Hip dysplasia
A dog paddling.

What’s hydrotherapy?

This is treatment carried out through passive, assisted, or active movements while the animal is underwater.

  • Passive movements require assistance from a therapist who helps the animal create some resistance with which to strengthen their muscles.
  • Active movements are self-explanatory, the dog performs them on their own.

Dogs carry out their hydrotherapy exercises in a special bathtub, which gradually fills with water. The regulation of the flow and quantity of water happens according to the needs of every individual patient. Also, there might be an underwater strap to facilitate their movement.

In addition, some bathtubs can regulate the temperature of the water and others even release air or water jets. Thus, one can add the health benefits of thermotherapy and hydromassage (other techniques used in rehabilitation) to the exercises already performed there.

Dog swimming accessories

Dogs can exercise both in swimming pools and in natural water bodies if you have one nearby that allows dogs there (check your local regulations). Of course, you must watch them at all times. In fact, there are some accessories in the market, such as life jackets for dogs, that make it easier for them to swim.

For one, life jackets increase the buoyancy of the animal and facilitate swimming. Also, they increase the animal’s visibility in the body of water.

Swimming has many benefits for dogs and many breeds love it. As you can see, it’s the perfect way to give them a good time, have fun, and improve your bond with the animal. Remember, you’ve got to let them get used to it progressively if they’re scared of the water. Also, always use positive reinforcement until they decide to go in and stay.

Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that this type of activity has certain contraindications. Thus, consult with your vet to find out if the animal any form of pathology for which swimming or hydrotherapy isn’t a good idea.

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  • Del Pueyo Montesinos, G.Fisioterapia y rehabilitación veterinarias.Zaragoza, Servet, 2011.
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