For almost a year, my labrador Sheldon has been having hydrotherapy to help manage his arthritis. Despite going for riverside walks every day, he’d suffered significant muscle loss due to his pain—he’d basically been walking funny in order to put less pressure on his hip joints, and in doing so wasn’t exercising the muscles the way they needed to be.
Sheldon wears a life jacket for extra buoyancy (and cuteness). The weightlessness from the water means he can use his joints and muscles without having to make corrections for pain. He swims once a week with a vet nurse for 20-30mins.
Amazingly, it took only three sessions for me to notice changes. On our morning walks, he became more adventurous by trotting off the path to smell the surrounding vegetation or jump in the water. At home, he tore apart innocent fluffy toys with gusto. He slept hard and well, rather than moving restlessly whenever the pain woke him.
We’ve just finished his weekly hydro session, and I’m writing this because I’m so grateful for what it’s done for Sheldon’s wellbeing and quality of life.
He’s old. He’s grumbly. And some months he’s expensive (I have an emergency fund specifically for his vet bills). But he’s also happy, healthy and no longer hampered by his arthritis.
What more could a human want for her floof?