In recent years, canine hydrotherapy has become increasingly popular to treat a range of conditions despite a lack of empirical evidence. It is currently unclear whether joint angles and limb movements performed by dogs during swimming are quantifiably beneficial for healthy animals. This study investigated the swimming kinematics of healthy dogs to establish baseline data for this activity and compare limb kinematics to that of overground locomotion. Kinematic data were recorded from eight healthy dolichocephalic dogs (mean age: 3.4±2.2) of a variety of breeds. Overground data were collected prior to swimming and consisted of dogs trotting on a flat surface. Swimming data were collected using an underwater camera during a standard hydrotherapy session conducted by a trained canine hydrotherapist. Range of motion, primarily due to an increase in flexion, was significantly greater (P<0.005) during swimming than trotting. Stride length (P<0.001) and frequency (P<0.005) were both significantly reduced in swimming compared to trot. Swimming kinematics recorded in this study are consistent with previously published data on canine aquatic locomotion but differ from those previously reported for water treadmill exercise. This study provides an insight into aquatic locomotion in healthy dogs indicating that range of motion exceeds that of terrestrial gaits. It is unclear whether these changes are beneficial for healthy animals and therefore further research is required to develop evidence-based protocols for industry practice.
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physiology (medical)
- Veterinary (miscalleneous)