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Hydrotherapy: Dog Walk in Water
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The underwater treadmill is a rehab mainstay. In addition to strengthening muscles, walking provides a balance and coordination workout; on the treadmill, the dog’s gait can be regulated.
The underwater treadmill is a rehab mainstay. In addition to strengthening muscles, walking provides a balance and coordination workout; on the treadmill, the dog’s gait can be regulated.

Mabel spends 30 minutes every other day on the underwater treadmill. She initially struggled, but the water helped her drop some of her bulk, and she was able to move more easily. Now, Mabel has lost almost 42 pounds, and her new, lean body has inspired many. She has her own Facebook page, and several local news channels have covered her journey to health. Pictures posted around campus show a happy hound running with smiling students, and videos document a disciplined girl in the tank walking off the pounds that piled on during her days of overeating.

“I am thrilled that people seem to care so much about her story, because [reducing] pet obesity is my passion. Mabel loves to go for walks now,” says Witzel. “We gave her a break from the underwater treadmill and her weight loss plateaued, so it was back to the pool. Let there be no doubt, the UTCVM rehab department works.”

Beyond tank design and the science of motion, hydrotherapists work to restore their patients to optimal health. Worried pet owners, searching for options and answers, turn to this new modality to relieve their dogs’ discomfort. In Duncan’s case, Cappabianca gave Wells four beautiful months with her Rottie before he died of a severe infection. The experience had such a profound impact on her life that she founded LoveyLoaves Rescue (lovey loaves.com), a nonprofit organization dedicated to rehabilitating disabled dogs.

“Every milestone Duncan reached was celebrated, and he was so proud. His life touched everyone he met. You really have to have an experience with aqua therapy in order to believe and appreciate the amazing healing that occurs through the rehab process,” says Wells.

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This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 74: Summer 2013

Image Credit: Holistic Veterinary Care (page 1), Animal Medical Center, photograph by Kip Voytek (page2), Cutting Edge K9 Rehab (page 3)

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