Whether your dog is recovering from injury or suffering from an age-related issue, there are many reasons why you might be looking for ways to specifically help them regain strength. However, it's important to note that if your dog has a spine-related issue or hip dysplasia, then you should always receive expert advice from a qualified professional or vet.
In all other cases, here are three ways that you can help your dog regain strength. And remember, simply incorporating muscle-building exercises into your dogs’ daily routine can assist with preventing injury in the future too.
When it comes to hydrotherapy, humans have been reaping the healing benefits of water for years. However, more recently, dogs hydrotherapy is being used to support dogs, particularly when it comes to helping them regain strength.
In short, hydrotherapy is using water therapeutically to improve health. For dogs, it tends to consist of either swimming or walking in the water, which in some cases is on a treadmill and in a veterinary clinic’s hydrotherapy pool.
Hydrotherapy delivers the perfect solution for working your dogs’ muscles and supporting them with weight loss. The resistance provided by the water helps dogs of all breeds and ages regain strength. Hydrotherapy sessions initially will be short. As your dog gets used to the therapy and builds strength they may build up to 20-25 minutes.
And to get the best out of your hydrotherapy program, be sure it’s tailored around your dog, to meet their specific needs, depending on what needs to be improved.
Simple sit and stand routine (doggy squats)
If you’re looking for an exercise to do with your pooch at home, then sit and stand exercises will do the trick.
Use treats to encourage your dog to sit and stand in total 10 times and do this twice a day, so long as your dog isn’t in any pain.
We would not consider simple walking as a strengthening exercise. However, with a few modifications, your daily walk can become a workout.
Getting your dog into a trot (as opposed to a slow walk) can be a helpful strengthening exercise. For little dogs, this may just involve you walking at a brisk pace. For larger dogs getting on your bike and letting your big guy trot beside you can be one way to pick up the pace.
Are there any hills or steps when you walk your dog? Walking up and down these inclines is another way to get your dog strengthened.
If your dog is out of condition then starting with low intensity and building up is important.
Getting the right balance
If you work out at the gym then you know the saying “no pain no gain”. That statement is not quite right. When we build muscle at the gym then we are temporarily “damaging” the muscles and then they recover stronger than before. If we do too much we can cause long term damage. So it is a matter of getting the level right.
The same is true for our dogs. It is normal for them to be a little sore the following day after strengthening exercises but if they are at the point where they are lame or too sore to go for a normal walk the next day then you should rethink your exercise program.
Some exercises should be done every second day to give your dog time to recover. Some would be Ok to do every day. There is no one size fits all and different exercises and frequencies should be considered for every individual dog.
Always seek expert advice
If you’ve recognised that your dog needs to regain strength, you should always contact an expert before introducing a new exercise program. After all, the last thing you want to do is cause more damage. Instead, make sure you’re planning the right exercises to best suit your dog and their needs.
If you want to help your dog regain strength, then get in touch with Balance Vet. We offer physical therapy for dogs in Brisbane, with our rehabilitation program including manual therapies, home exercise programs and acupuncture. We also have future plans for hydrotherapy in 2022.