Dogs Having a ‘Ruff’ Time Go for a Swim at ISU Veterinary Rehab Center

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AMES, Iowa -- The Iowa State Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center has one of the largest animal rehabilitation centers in central Iowa.

Dog owner Billie Latcham has been coming to the rehab center with her two dogs Oliver and Hope.

Latcham’s dogs love to use the pool and the underwater treadmill to stay in shape and improve the range of motion in their joints.

"It allows animals to get a great cardiovascular workout, but it also improves range of motion in joints without putting full body weight on it. And so they have the buoyancy of the water, the temperature of the water can also help with relaxing muscles and they can really do more in the water than they can on land," Dr. Mary Sarah Bergh said.

Latcham said Oliver is a very healthy dog, but Hope really needs the help of the underwater treadmill due to hip dysplasia.

"Oliver and I usually go hit the bike trails when we are here because it’s nice to run out there. But when I can’t run he just swims to get the exercise. But for Hope it makes a huge difference. Like if we miss a week, I can tell she’s different. She can get up and down steps easy, Moves around better, has more energy and it's made all the difference in the world," Latcham said.

Bergh said each dog has a different therapy routine, for example Oliver's routine is mainly about exercise and staying strong.

"So you saw him doing free fetching in the pool, which is not something we do with every animal in the pool. It’s just because of his needs are different than Hope’s. Hope has hip dysplasia, so her mobility is greatly different and limited in extension. For some dogs when they are in the pool, tend not to extend their hips. Whereas an underwater treadmill, they’re using that foot every step and they’ll get more extension which is what a dog with hip dysplasia needs. So for Hope she gets better rehabilitation therapy in the underwater treadmill as compared to the pool," Bergh said.

This therapy has helped to avoid getting a $4,500 hip replacement that might not have worked out in the end.

"We would have had to look at hip replacement a long time ago and at that point they were calling it a salvage procedure and if she rejected the implants, she wouldn’t be here. So it's all because of the general therapy, it makes all the difference in the world," Latcham said.