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Freckles the dog uses hydrotherapy pool and treadmill to beat lameness

Amy Holloway

At Clent Hills Pet Fitness & Rehabilitation Centre, we often use both the underwater treadmill and hydrotherapy pool in conjunction with one another to target different things throughout the rehabilitation plan, as we find that a multimodal approach can be particularly beneficial. One case that has proven that is Freckles.

Freckles the German short-haired pointer was originally referred to our Centre with a persistent right forelimb lameness, which was suspected to be a soft tissue injury. Her’ x-rays didn’t highlight any current orthopaedic conditions that could be causing the lameness, so this was ruled out.

Freckles came for an initial physiotherapy assessment and was presenting as 4/10 lame (meaning she had an obvious limp on her right forelimb during movement, observed through a head nod and not placing full weight through this limb; she also showed pain during manipulation of the right shoulder joint), struggling to exercise for long periods of time, and had lost significant muscle mass in her right forelimb. We gave her some laser therapy to help manage the pain and encourage cell healing in her limb, before starting her on hydrotherapy.

We first began Freckles on the underwater treadmill to promote muscle building and gait re-education due to her compensatory walking for the past few months. After a few weeks of 2x weekly sessions on the underwater treadmill, we then began to alternate her exercise sessions between the underwater treadmill and our hydrotherapy pool. We introduced the pool to promote a more active range of motion in a weightless environment once her strength had improved.

Freckles attended regular physiotherapy reviews throughout her rehabilitation journey so that we could monitor her progress and make any adjustments to her treatment plan along the way.

After approximately 6 months of rehabilitative treatment, Freckles now comes to the centre every other week for the underwater treadmill to continue to build muscle and maintain strength. She is no longer lame, can exercise for at least an hour a day, and now has even muscle measurements in both of her forelimbs. We’re all so pleased for her and her owners. She has been a pleasure to treat and really highlights the benefits of hydrotherapy as a multimodal approach.

Read about the overall benefits of canine hydrotherapy and the differences between the pool and treadmill 

Here’s what Freckles’ owners had to say:

freckles the dog having. hydrotherapy at Clent Hills Rehab Centre“Freckles is a 7 ½ year small GSP that we’ve had from six months old when she was rescued from Ireland. She’s always been a very active dog and with our other two rescue GSP/X dogs we would regularly walk for two or three hours, which she loved. On holiday in Devon in September 2019 she played rather too much/too hard on the beach with another dog which resulted in an injury. We rested her, gave her pain killers but it just wouldn’t get better, we visited the vets a couple of times for further investigation and it was diagnosed as being muscular damage. We had to really limit her exercise and the less that we did, the more muscle wastage she gained – it was a downward spiral.

Thankfully we were advised about hydrotherapy and we found that Clent Hills Rehab Centre in Bromsgrove. We started visiting earlier this year seeing Eve each time, she started her with physiotherapy and ultrasound and then as she became stronger, she moved onto the water treadmill and then into the pool. The difference that it has made is quite remarkable, she is so much stronger and once again is able to go for longer walks (not quite two or three hours yet) and be off the lead. Eve has been fantastic, she’s given us advice and exercises to help Freckles’ progress and she really cares about Freckles and Freckles really likes Eve, helped by the fish and cheese treats!

I would thoroughly recommend Clent Hills Rehab Centre – we’ve seen a massive difference in Freckles and all without her having to take drugs, apart from painkillers at the start”

– Tracey Calcutt

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