Q: My dog was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. Would underwater treadmill therapy be useful?
A: Hip dysplasia is managed in several ways. First, keeping your dog at
an ideal body weight minimizes the stress on his/her joints. Sometimes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines are used to control pain and inflammation, along with other pain managing medications if needed. A supplement for joints such as glucosamine and chondroitin may also be used. Physical rehabilitation is also helpful in the management of hip dysplasia. Walking in the underwater treadmill helps build and maintain muscle while only weight bearing about 40% of the body weight due to the buoyancy of the water. Sometimes a therapy laser is used for pain management. In select individuals, surgical procedures such as total hip replacement may be required. During an exam your dog should be measured for joint range of motion and thigh circumference. Then an exercise plan for rehabilitation and for home exercises would be developed. Most rehabilitation packages consist of consecutive sessions, about 45 minutes each and include consultation and a re- evaluation.