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Hydrotherapy for Spondylosis in Dogs

What is Spondylosis?

 It’s a condition that occurs due do progressive disc degeneration. Bone spurs form on the edges of the spinal bones in response to the disc degeneration. This can result in restricted movement or pressure being placed on nerve roots. Most dogs have no symptoms unless restriction occurs, often resulting in pain. Spondylosis is a condition where osteophytes grow on the ventral (bottom) surface of the vertebral bodies. Osteophytes are commonly referred to as bone spurs and are bony projections that can form along joints in the body of a dog. As bone spurs grow, they form bridges from one vertebrae to another. Though compression of the spine is usually not the result, the dog may gradually lose flexibility in the backbone and overall range-of-motion. As the dog ages, you may see a diminished capacity to run, jump and turn. Finally, trauma can snap the bridges of bone fusing the vertebrae, causing pinched nerves.

What are the Causes of Spondylosis? 

While aging is generally regarded as the primary cause, being overweight is a contributing factor. Injury, either major trauma or repeated micro-trauma is another reason dogs develop spondylosis. It can also be inherited. Older large breed dogs are at the highest risk, but we’ve seen it in dogs of varying sizes.

Hydrotherapy & Other Treatment Options for Spondylosis

Veterinarians may prescribe NSAIDs to reduce inflammation and pain as well as glucosamine and MSM supplements if your dog is having symptoms. Massage, acupuncture and laser therapy are also options for helping with any pain. SOME dogs with spondylosis have no signs of pain, therefore their prognosis is generally good. Spondylosis is something dog parents need to be vigilant about-It can and will progress into nerve compression and lameness. Regular checkups from your Vet and keeping your dog strong through regular, appropriate exercise is vital for the management of this disease.

Hydrotherapy in a warm water pool is the best option for exercise because it places no stress on the spine. Plus the warmth of the water increases blood flow to the spine helping with inflammation and stiffness. In human physiotherapy, results have shown that a suitably monitored course of hydrotherapy acts by encouraging a full range of joint motion in non weight-bearing conditions, thereby improving muscle tone and promoting tissue repair without imposing undue stress on damaged tissues. Swimming helps to improve general fitness, muscle tone and helps in recovering from injury or surgery and can also help with weight management. 

Interestingly, muscle wastage begins within 3 days of any immobilization, so to prevent further weakness or injury, it is important to rebuild, through safe exercise, any muscles that have deteriorated. It is also far better to swim dogs in heated water since cold water causes constriction of the blood vessels near the skin and the superficial muscles, which restricts the flow of blood making the muscles less efficient. Also, canine hydrotherapy also allows the dog to build up its muscles especially around the spine area which with time helps in easing the pain that accompanies a case of spondylosis. 

Other Water Therapy Benefits include:

  • Reduces pain 
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Increases blood flow
  • Reduces Spasms 
  • Improves quality of life
  • Non-weight bearing – easier to move
  • Increased active range of motion
  • Feeling of well-being due to release of endorphins
  • Reduction of frustration for dogs on reduced exercise
  • Increased muscle strength
  • Improved muscle patterning and recruitment
  • Improved cardiovascular fitness

Some More Things to Consider…

Dietary and Household Considerations

Obesity is a contributing factor to disc degeneration and spondylosis. In many cases, your veterinarian will place your dog on a low-calorie weight loss diet to maintain a healthy body weight. Because movement may be reduced or altered, household changes help improve mobility. Ramps, carpeting for additional traction and padded dog mats are some options.

Surgical Intervention and Experimental Options

In cases where spinal nerve compression causes neurological symptoms or paralysis, surgical intervention is often necessary when medical treatment is unsuccessful. Specialized veterinary surgeons remove protruding disc material as well as spinal bone and bone spurs. Another experimental treatment option involves the administration of rubeola virus immunomodulator injections.

About Dip’ n Dogs Hydrotherapy – Orlando, FL

At Dip’n Dogs Hydrotherapy, we are certified and caring professionals devoted to restoring and enhancing the health and happiness of your beloved pup. Encompassing a pool, as well as a certified hydrotherapist, this can provide effective and long lasting results for your pet’s injury or illness. We are conveniently located in Winter Park, FL. Contact us today at (407) 227-0030. Our Services include the following: Outdoor Hydrotherapy and In-Home Mobile Therapy for dogs. We look forward to hearing from you!

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