Hydrotherapy helps dogs recover
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.’’
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.