The pro list first. If you own a pool already, then you have most of the equipment (many dogs should not swim without a life jacket so please invest in one of these too!) that you need. Now that’s it 110 degrees outside, the water temperature is near a balmy 90 degrees. This is perfect for your dog’s old achey joints. The water will provide buoyancy and reduce the impact on the joints as well. The hydrostatic pressure of the water combined with the warm
temperature will increase blood flow. Now, we’re talking! Swimming helps build endurance and improves cardiopulmonary fitness. It’s cardio for your dog! This burns calories too for those chubby dogs that need a little help fitting into last year’s doggie swim suit (you laugh, but they are real. Google it!) Reduced joint impact! Good for your dog’s heart and lungs! Burns calories! Build endurance! Sounds perfect! Ready to jump in with your dog?
Slow down a second. The con list is next. Before starting a swim program with your dog, make sure his heart and lungs can handle it. Ten minutes of hard swimming can be a lot for your older, de-conditioned, or overweight dog.
Be careful getting in and out of the pool too. Water adds extra weight when your arthritic dog is trying to pull himself up the steps to get out. Many need assistance, especially after swimming for a bit. Swimming is great for the front
end but not every dog kicks effectively with their back legs. And while increasing endurance and improving cardiovascular function, swimming is only able to strengthen your dog’s muscles to a certain degree. Think about those aquatic classes at your gym. Who is the target audience there? The same is true for our canine friends. If your dog can handle weight-bearing exercises and resistance training then that is what he should be doing to maximize strength gains. Swimming is good for your older, arthritic dogs or those that might be immediate post-op and can’t fully support their own body weight, but your goal should be to have your furry friend be able to stand and move about on his own. Then weight bearing exercises should become the focus for strengthening and swimming can be used for endurance and weight loss.