What can you do when your dog decides chasing a ball just isn't worth the aches and pains anymore? Swimming is a terrific substitute for long, hard runs when your dog just isn't up to it anymore. I asked about using swimming as an exercise option for arthritic dogs:
"The best [benefit of swimming for arthritic patients] is you can have graduated exercise that is non weightbearing. Even resisted exercises are non-weightbearing so that they can maintain or increase muscles strength without causing further injury to damaged bones and/or joints." - Cynthia Rawlinson, MRCSP (Member of the Royal Chartered Society of Physiotherapists)
Other Benefits of Swimming:
Swimming can increase your dog's heartrate, increasing blood flow, and improving lung capacity, without the damage a hard run on land would do.
If you live near lakes, or ponds (I don't recommend rivers, because of the strong currents that can flow under the surface), swimming can be a source of free entertainment and exercise, and if you live in right climate, a year-round activity.
If There's No Free Access to Water
Believe it or not, there are facilities available just for pets to swim, and you can even buy your own pet spa/pool, although that might be a bit beyond the average dog owner's budget.
A Few Canine Hydrotherapy Facilities
- The Canine Hydrotherapy Association - A U.K.-based association, with a handy list members and facility locations.
- Angel's Gate - An animal hospice and rehabilitation center located in Fort Salonga, New York.
- Wellsprings Dog Massage and Swim Spa - Located in Seattle, Washington, offers recreational swimming and rehabilitation hydrotherapy.