You might have seen the videos on our Facebook page – cute dogs in bright yellow flotation vests paddling around an indoor pool while being cheered on by their foster parents.
Has SHUG lost its collective mind?
Well, maybe, but not in regards to swim therapy! Swim or Hydro Therapy is a great option for many dogs, especially those with muscle atrophy due to injury. Zaina had an old break that had recently been surgically repaired and Caramel was recovering from a fractured pelvis after being hit by a car in her native Qatar. While both Saluki girls had undergone surgery and had their breaks repaired they'd lost muscle and weren't able to get around very well.
Enter the "zero impact" swimming exercises.
Caramel had no problem with the life jackets (one around the body and one around the chin) and would walk down the ramp to the pool without any resistance. And she’d swim just fine, according to her foster mom Kristie. Even though Caramel only had a few sessions before going to her adoptive home, there was early improvement in her muscle tone.
Zaina had a bit more of a learning curve. In her first time at the pool, she acted like she’d not seen water before in her life – never mind get in it! But she got the hang of it on her second session and began swimming on her own, although her legs were a bit “not in sync.”
Time in the water varies. Most dogs have to work up to a final goal of 20 minutes of free swimming. They start out with single laps with breaks in between. Swim therapy benefits dogs who need to rebuild muscle, who need to stay conditioned, who may be recovering from surgery or are older and need a ‘low impact” exercise. The Salukis went two or three times a week.
After the swim, the dogs get rinsed and dried. A staff member was always present to work with the foster mom, so Kristie got to directly participate in the girls’ rehab.
We’re pleased we were able to help Zaina and Caramel recover more fully from their injuries. We’d like to give a shout out to the great team at Interstate Canine Swim Center in Maryland who sponsored Zaina and Caramel's therapy. You can learn more about swim therapy on their web site.