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The Benefits of Taking Your Dog Swimming

Alternative exercise that’s accessible for all

Although we refer to certain breeds such as spaniels and retrievers as ‘water dogs’, the truth is all dogs can benefit from swimming for exercise.

Large or small, short-haired or long, you’ll see all types of dogs enjoying the waves at many of Auckland’s dog-friendly beaches because swimming is one of the best all-round exercises for your dog — even better than running.

Swimming has been proven to

  • Strengthen heart and lungs
  • Decrease inflammation, especially around joints
  • Increase metabolism
  • Improve circulation

Summer is the ideal time to take your dog to enjoy the water with you, whether that’s at the beach or a local river. However, this isn’t accessible for every dog.

Elderly, injured or disabled dogs may be unable to swim safely in natural environments, but they don’t have to miss out

With our hydrotherapy service at Nose To Tail, your dog can still enjoy the benefits and refreshment of swimming this summer in a safe, controlled environment. Great for arthritis and a range of other ailments, read on to find out how swimming is the best form of exercise for your dog, and how hydrotherapy helped Collie X Golden Retriever, Archie, find his feet again. 

Why your dog needs swimming

1. It cools them down in summer

Imagine wearing a fur coat in this weather! In a hot and dry summer, it’s more important than ever to make sure your dog is cooling down efficiently.

Exercising your dog in the hot sun can lead to heat-stroke if they’re not properly hydrated or shaded. But swimming can be a great alternative for burning off that excess energy — they can chase balls in and out of the sea (or try bite the waves, you know how they do), to work off that playful energy without the risk of overheating.

2. It conditions their muscles

Did you know that one minute of swimming is equivalent to four minutes of running, when it comes to muscle conditioning? Moving against the resistance of the water uses every major muscle group, and improves their overall strength and tone. Ultimately, a stronger dog is a dog that can run and play for longer with a lower risk of injury.

3. It’s a safe form of exercise

Since your dog’s weight is supported by the water, it takes the pressure off overworked joints and tendons. Land-based exercise can be jarring on unfit bodies (ours included!), and causes more harm than good, but with a low-impact exercise like swimming your dog can enjoy freedom of movement without worrying about injury.

If your dog struggles to get enough exercise because of a physical condition, bring him in to us — just 15 minutes in the hydrotherapy pool is equivalent to a 90-minute walk.

Why hydrotherapy is the answer

Although swimming is the best exercise for your pup, not all dogs are capable of keeping themselves afloat. Dogs that are old, injured (or injury-prone), disabled, arthritic, or overweight may not be physically strong enough to swim safely.

Hydrotherapy for dogs takes place in a safe, controlled environment that enables your pup to get the benefits of exercise, cooling down, and rehabilitation without risking further damage.

Eight year old Archie, a Border Collie X Golden Retriever, was brought in for hydrotherapy after suffering a spinal injury

Archie’s dad, Chris, explains “We spent about $3000 on all sorts of treatments at the vet, until he said there’s basically nothing we can do. We tried a chiropractor for two months, tried acupuncture for two months … nothing was working. He was on constant pain medication, he couldn’t walk up or down stairs and couldn’t even stand up without us lifting him.”

“Since we gave hydrotherapy a go, the results have been miraculous. It’s like having our old dog back again - he can walk, he can move, his vitality is much stronger and he’s no longer in pain”
- Chris Smith, Archie’s dad

With the water warmed for comfort, dogs are at ease as they are gently lowered into the therapy pool, secured in a specially designed harness and life jacket. Through the hydrotherapy session, the dog is able to safely enjoy the benefits of cardio exercise and rehabilitation, and owners take home a happier pup.

Chris and Archie have been in for 12 sessions now, over 12 weeks. A little timid and unsure the first time around, Archie now looks forward to coming in like he’s visiting friends. While hydrotherapy is not a cure for his injury, the change from week one to now has been incredible to see.

“The improvement was obvious after three sessions, this is better than anything else we’ve discovered.”


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