The feature in our July issue on Pet Treadmills really got people thinking. One of the most frequent topics concerned comparing underwater treadmills to simply swimming in a lake. We posed the question to our friends at Integrative Pet Care in Chicago. Rosemary LoGiudice, DVM, CCRT, CVA was happy to explain.
Q: How does Underwater Treadmill therapy differ from just letting my dog swim in the lake?
A: While swimming in the lake can be fun and provide cardiovascular exercise, the movement of a dog’s legs is very different when swimming than when walking. When walking in the underwater treadmill, the water’s buoyancy and the speed of the treadmill can help correct the pet’s gait. The water can also be used as resistance for a more challenging workout.
Proper use of the underwater treadmill means that a trained and certified rehabilitation therapist performs the therapy and that treatments should be prescribed by a trained and certified rehabilitation veterinarian. When used this way, the underwater treadmill can be a valuable tool in helping dogs regain or maintain mobility as well as condition dogs to develop and maintain strong musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health.
A therapist can work directly with the pet in the underwater treadmill to ensure that each leg is moving correctly and that the speed is correct for that specific case. When swimming not every dog uses all legs equally. In fact, some dogs tuck up their hind legs and only use their front legs – resulting in an unbalanced work out. In other cases dogs should not swim at all as the swimming motion can exacerbate certain injuries.
The only way to know for sure whether either underwater treadmill or swimming is appropriate therapy for your dog is to have your dog evaluated by a properly trained and certified rehabilitation veterinarian.
More about Dr. LoGiudice
She is a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT) with over 30 years experience as a veterinarian. Her desire to help companion animals realize an improved quality of life inspired her to receive her CCRT from the Canine Rehabilitation Institute in Florida and Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO, as well as becoming a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist through the Chi Institute for Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. LoGiudice’s lifelong dream to become a veterinarian was realized when she graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 1981. During the ensuing years she has amassed a tremendous variety and amount of experience in veterinary medicine predominately in companion animal and equine medicine and sports medicine.
Dr. LoGiudice is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians. In addition she is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Illinois State VMA, Chicago VMA, American Association of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, American Canine Sports Medicine Association, International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management, and the American Association of Equine Practitioners.