Benefits of hydrotherapy for your dog-paddling pup
Before he’d even turned 1 year old, Snickerdoodles, a purebred Golden Retriever, had endured major bilateral elbow surgery. “He needed to exercise to keep his muscles loose, but running was out of the question,” says his ‘mom’, Teresa Alvensleben of Kenmore, Washington. “So we started looking into swimming.”
The Alvenslebens considered a hot tub but decided it was too small for Snickerdoodles; conversely, an in-ground pool was a lot more than they needed or wanted. With their energetic ‘baby’ frequently breaking out into a furious dog paddle, a soft-sided above-ground pool wasn’t a viable option either.
“When I was discussing Snickerdoodles’ exercise options with our vet, he told me about a woman who did water therapy for dogs with arthritis,” Teresa recalls. “I took Snickerdoodles to visit her and he absolutely loved her swim spa. She allowed me to swim with the dog, too, which was fun for both of us.”
Teresa was so impressed with the dog therapist’s swim spa, she had her husband, Eric, come out and take a look at it. “We both realized this was something we could use at our own home,” she says.
During Snickerdoodles’ time in therapy, Teresa discovered that swimming against the current was really helpful for him. “Plus, I enjoyed it too because I could get my exercise at the same time by doing water aerobics or swimming against the jets,” she says. “It really seemed like a swim spa would work for everybody.”
After selling some land, Teresa and Eric decided to use a portion of the proceeds to purchase a swim spa. Soon after it was installed, they built a platform so that Snickerdoodles could easily get in and out of the water. “When it’s time to go swimming, he starts barking and running back and forth,” Teresa says with a laugh. “He runs right up the platform and lets me get in first, then he gets in and shows off for everybody.”
Originally seen as a way to keep their ailing dog healthy and pain-free, the Alvenslebens find they love their swim spa as much as their beloved Snickerdoodles does. “We use it at least four to five times a week, and we try to keep the dog in for at least a half-hour at a time,” Teresa says. “It’s so peaceful outside, we’ve even been out in the swim spa when there was snow all around. All of us just totally enjoy it.”