Here at Active Pet we much prefer the underwater treadmill for hydrotherapy and there are several reasons for this…
1. We find that dogs (and cats) who aren’t keen on water don’t mind going in the tank. We suspect that is because they always keep their feet on the ground and we get them used to going in the tank without the water in first.
2. As the tank is glass all round we can monitor how your pet is moving…this is not so easy in a pool!
3. Swimming is walking backwards…dogs and cats don’t use their limbs in a normal walking pattern. This is no good for training dogs and cats to walk again after an injury such as paralysis.
4. We are able to control the speed and height of the water in the treadmill, which you cannot do in a pool.
5. Some dogs won’t use their hindlimbs at all or not very well in a pool whereas they will use them in the treadmill.
6. It is not recommended to swim dogs after cruciate surgery for at least 8 weeks afterwards whereas they can go in the treadmill as soon as they have had their stitches out.
7. Walking on a treadmill encourages hip extension which is really important for those pets with hip dysplasia and hip osteoarthritis.
8. Underwater treadmill hydrotherapy is much easier for the bracycephalic (short nose breeds such as pugs and bulldogs) as they have a much more normal head and neck position.
9. Underwater treadmill hydrotherapy is much better for dogs with sore backs as they are in a normal walking and standing position. It is quite hard to pad dogs out so that their backs are in a neutral position in a pool.
So although an underwater treadmill is much more expensive to buy and maintain it does have far more uses and although we can get some jets to put on the door so pets can swim we have never yet felt that it would be beneficial!
Here is a little video of Sammy in the treadmill, you can see the normal walking pattern and how the treadmill encourages him to bend his legs and stretch his hindlimbs out behind him.