One of my clients has an Alaskan Malmute named Moab. I have been seeing Moab for a couple of years now. He has a bad hip and some other areas of arthritis, so he has been coming in on a routine basis for chiropractic adjustments. He sees Dr. Karen Becker for his other holistic care that he needs. Well last month I noticed that he was starting to decline, the owner had been noticing it as well. He was becoming more wobbly in the rear and unable to hold himself up on slippery floors such as the tile in the clinic. On physical exam, I took a quick subjective measurement of his leg muscles with my hands and I noted that his legs were becoming severly atrophied (thats losing muscle mass for those without a medical degree). My chiro treatments were no longer enough to maintain the nervous system to maintain the muscle mass. He needed more exercise. The problem he has arthritis, he can no longer go for long walks, in fact he
did not want to – his owner stated he just wanted to sleep. He slept for 20 hours a day and would only be roused to eat. He definitely needed exercise. He needed an underwater treadmill.
An underwater treadmill is exactly what it says – it is a treadmill that is under water. The dog gets on the treadmill and water fills a tank that the treadmill is in up to the dogs chest. What it does is two fold. One it helps take weight off the dogs legs by providing some bouyancy. Basically the dog is lifted a little by floating justy slightly, just enough so the dog is still making contact with the treadmill. Two – it provides some
resistance for the dog while he is walking on the treadmill. It is just like if we went wading in a hip high pool. It places resistance on our legs making them work harder.
The first problem is where to find a facility that has such a thing. Well we happen to have one of the best facilities in the country, a reputation that is world renowned, it is called TOPS Rehab. Unfortunately it is in Grayslake, IL about a two to three hour drive depending on where you live in the suburbs. Obviously if you live in the northern suburbs of Chicago it is very close to you. However my practice is on the south side.
Luckily there are other places, one is Integrative Pet Center; however that is downtown Chicago and some do not like to drive downtown. SO what was Moab’s owner to do, well… there is a brand new place just opened up in Chicago Ridge, IL owned by Dr. Joe
Whalen a very well respected wholistic practitioner like myself. Called Chicago Animal Rehab or CARE (www.chicagoanimalrehab.com/), it is about 5 minutes from the clinic I work at that Moab goes to.
The second problem is the cost. It is quite expensive to purchase one of these under water treadmills, only about $45K. So that cost plus the labor it takes to use one makes the price of treatment a little high. However, Moab’s owner figured she would give it a try and see what happens.
I saw Moab yesterday, walk in on the tile floor with no slipping. His good leg gained about 5 cm worth of muscle!!! His bad leg even gained a little muscle mass. The owner is extremely happy and feels that the cost is completely out weighed by the fact that she has her dog back again. It has taken years off his attitude. He is out playing and running and not sleeping. In fact she now has to curtail his activities because he sometimes gets too rowdy.
So if you have a dog getting up there in age, has arthritis, hip dysplasia, a neurologic condition, or anything that is really reducing the muscling of your dog you should consider having some sessions with an underwater treadmill. It could just bring
more life to your dog.