In the last few years a number of hydrotherapy clinics have been set up around the country. The dogs swim in special pools or exercise on hydro treadmills to lose weight.
These centres were originally set up for rehabilitation for injured dogs. Joe Keane of Sunbeam Veterinary in Cork has said that hydrotherapy is now used for for overweight dogs.
“Four years ago we invested in an underwater treadmill as we were looking to the future and hydrotherapy is a good non-invasive therapy post-surgery. Three years ago we started to use the walker as a weight-loss treatment for animals that find it difficult to exercise because they are too large. Hydro therapy takes the pressure off all the joints. Like ourselves, it’s difficult to lose weight just by dieting — it’s better if there is a multi-approach to weight loss,” says Keane.
Overweight dogs can develop many health problems such as diabetes, joint, respiratory and heart problems. Injured animals who are unable to exercise are also prone to weight gain and this is where the hydrotherapy can help them.
Keane also urges owners to be careful with their dogs’ diets, and warns of canine obesity. “It’s a growing epidemic — it’s now considered a disease in pets. We need to make owners aware of this growing problem. People don’t realise that a slice of buttered toast is the equivalent of a burger to a dog or one biscuit is like a packet.”
Whether or not an overweight do loses weight is down to the owner and the owner needs to make the changes in their dog’s diet and their exercise regime.
In Kildare, at the Canine Hydrotherapy and Rehabilitation Centre, dogs are learning to swim in an 11x5m heated pool, as well as using a hydro treadmill. “Dogs are becoming couch potatoes like the rest of us,” says owner Mick Murphy whose business has the biggest canine hydro pool in the country. “I’ve seen dogs nearly double the weight they should be — they cannot move. We have reversed obesity in dogs, but it takes discipline, they say a minute of swimming is the same as a mile of walking.”
New or nervous swimmers first take to the water in a lifejacket but its not long until the pets will run happily into the water on their own. Some owners even book their dogs into the pool for ‘social sessions’ where owners can get into the pool and play too. Murphy believes the Irish, “are slowly beginning to cop on” about pet exercise and nutrition but he says owners must resist the urge to overfeed animals when they put on the “sad face”.
At the Veterinary Hospital, UCD, the Animal Rehabilitation Centre (ARC) spokesperson Lynn Cogan says rehabilitation in general is a fairly new concept in veterinary medicine in Ireland but the benefits are now widely recognised.
“Hydrotherapy is gentle on joints but is a tough workout and will burn calories,’ she says.
It is very important to feed your dog the correct amount of food and also to understand what ingredients are in their food. Raw is by far the best way to feed your dog and a lot of Pet Shops now offers frozen raw food such as Nature’s Menu. The next best way to feed them is grain free. Grains such as maize are of no nutritional value to dogs, they are simply used as a filler. Grain free dog foods such as Canagan and Orijen can be bought in Pet Shops or online at www.petdepotdirect.ie. It is always good to be informed about your dogs food. If you have any questions about what you are feeding your dog, what is the best dog food for your budget or what you should be feeding them do not hesitate to contact the Pet Depot Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0404 32498.
Dog’s Trust have sent out a warning to all dog owners reminding them of the tragic consequences feeding your dogs, human chocolate can have.
Some human foods are ok for dogs to eat in moderation but this is certainly not the case with chocolate. If dogs eat chocolate this can cause chocolate poisoning which can be fatal to dogs.
Please keep all chocolate out of reach of your dogs and if they display any symptoms of chocolate poisoning such as vomiting, excessive thirst or rapid heart rate, bring them to the vet immediately.
Keep your doggies safe this Easter weekend.
If you are walking along Limerick’s boardwalk area with your canine chum don’t be surprised if you hear a voice telling you to pick up your dog’s poo. This voice is part of a new initiative in Limerick. These talking lampposts will broadcast a message reminding and encouraging you to always pick up after your dogs.
Following in the footsteps of Fingal County Council who have had an 80% drop in dog fouling, Limerick is hoping for some really positive results with this new initiative.
These audible devices were developed by NUI Maynooth based company, Rite View Solutions LTD in conjunction with Fingal Council and after such great results Limerick have decided to install devices on both sides of the river Shannon in Limerick City.
The message you will hear is “Do your bit to keep Limerick clean. Stop Limerick Dog Litter. Use any bag, any bin – please pick up after your dog.” Sinead McDonnell, the council’s Environment Awareness Officer has said that sometimes people “are to embarrassed to pick [dog poo] up or carry it [in a bag]“, and the council wants to encourage people not to feel this way. “The message we are promoting is simple; always carry a bag to clean up after your dog,” said McDonnell.
We hope that the success of this initiative encourages more county councils to install these devices around Ireland.