There was a time in which animals were easily euthanized if they suffered from an injury or a condition that kept them from their normal behavior. Fortunately, times have changed and now there are tons of alternatives out there to treat different conditions or diseases. There are also plenty of successful stories that show us never to give up on our pets, no matter how bad their condition may be, there’s usually a way out.
Hydrotherapy (also known as aquatic therapy) is one of those alternatives that can help animals in challenging scenarios. It is basically physical therapy in water and it is great because water can offer resistance and support to the body without putting too much pressure on joints, bones and organs.
It can help in cases of arthritis, weight problems, circulation problems, neurological injuries, orthopedic and back injuries, weakness in limbs, muscle strengthening and agility training among others.
It is more common for dogs, but cats can also benefit from it and more and more clinics are working with cats. Such is for example the case of CARES –Canine Arthritis, Rehabilitation, Exercise, and Sports Medicine Center from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.
As their name indicates, they specialize in dogs but they have a growing number of cat patients and they are helping them heal as well. Cats recover faster than dogs, but as they are also better at hiding their pain, people not always know there is an issue.
Right now, one of the cats they are helping since mid-January is Elmo, a 7-year old overweight cat with severe arthritis. When he was a kitten, he got a broken hip that combined with the arthritis, affected his mobility. He gained weight because of that and everything became worse.
At the beginning of this year he got to a critical point where he could barely walk and struggled to use the litter box. He couldn’t play anymore and he depended on another family cat for grooming.
So his humans reached CARES and Elmo started with hydrotherapy. He has stretches, water treadmill sessions and swims a few laps in the pool. Dr. Marti Drum, a clinical assistant professor in the rehabilitation center is in charge of Elmo’s progress.
She monitors his breathing and heart rate while looking for any sign of distress. The goal is for Elmo to loose half his weight and regain mobility. And the therapy has already made a big difference for him.
Let’s keep spreading the word so more cats can benefit from hydrotherapy.
For now, check out this video of Elmo in his therapy!