Hy­drother­apy helps dogs re­cover

Central Leader - - NEWS - By CIARA PRATT

In a ware­house down an in­dus­trial Hen­der­son road, bark­ing and splash­ing sounds ring out.

You could be for­given for think­ing some sort of pool party for dogs is un­der way, and you’d be right – ex­cept this pool party has a more se­ri­ous pur­pose.

Ca­nine Hy­drother­apy works as a treat­ment for chronic pain con­di­tions or post-op­er­a­tive re­cov­ery in ca­nines.

It’s also known as ‘‘re­sis­tance train­ing for dogs’’.

Hen­der­son’s Wa­ter Woofs founder Nataisha Barnes is a ca­nine hy­drother­a­pist.

She works to re­ha­bil­i­tate dogs us­ing a large, heated ther­a­peu­tic pool and an un­der­wa­ter tread­mill.

Barnes has a back­ground in hu­man and an­i­mal psy­chol­ogy but had al­ways wanted to get into hy­drother­apy af­ter her own dog, a New­found­land, was di­ag­nosed with hip dys­pla­sia, a painful and ab­nor­mal for­ma­tion of the hip socket.

Barnes saw the ben­e­fits of work­ing with their dog in a river so she and her hus­band opened Wa­ter Woofs four years ago af­ter 20 years of plan­ning.

‘‘It’s some­thing new for a lot of peo­ple to get their head around. Some say to me they are the laugh­ing stock at work when their col­leagues find out their dog goes to a hy­drother­a­pist,’’ she says.

‘‘But you don’t tell a hu­man to go for a 10 kilo­me­tre run af­ter they’ve had a hip re­place­ment, pets are no dif­fer­ent. You also want to pro­tect that in­vest­ment if you spend $5000 to $10,000 on surgery,’’ Barnes says.

Dog-owner Adri­enne Mil­burn has been bring­ing her border col­lie hunt­away cross Dot to hy­drother­apy for sev­eral ses­sions over the past few months. Dot, 7, in­jured her front leg so badly that she needed surgery to in­sert a metal plate to fuse a joint.

‘‘She didn’t want to move very much but she was very stoic,’’ Mil­burn says.

‘‘The vet sur­geon rec­om­mended tak­ing Dot to a phys­io­ther­a­pist and then it was the phys­io­ther­a­pist who rec­om­mended hy­drother­apy.’’

Learn­ing there was a swim­ming pool just for dogs was a sur­prise to Mil­burn.

‘‘She didn’t like the wa­ter at first but swim­ming around re­ally helps her move­ment and it’s mak­ing such a dif­fer­ence help­ing her build up her mus­cle.’’

Barnes reck­ons she can see about 50 dogs per week and it’s not all se­ri­ous – day­care groups can come along for a swim.

Barnes is joined by Gail Han­son from In­te­grated Os­teopaths who also works with dogs.

Han­son deals with mus­cu­loskele­tal is­sues, mo­bil­ity is­sues and with ca­nines suf­fer­ing from con­di­tions such as hip dys­pla­sia.

She agrees more peo­ple are turn­ing to spe­cial­ists to work with their pets.

‘‘Pets are of­ten pseudo chil­dren these days.

‘‘Peo­ple are more aware of an­i­mals’ needs and they viewed as mem­bers of the fam­ily.’’

Photo: CIARA PRATT

Wa­ter woofs: Ca­nine hy­drother­a­pist Nataisha Barnes works with Dot af­ter the border col­lie’s surgery.

Go to cen­tral­leader.co.nz and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to see Dot’s hy­drother­apy ses­sion in ac­tion.

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