Leeds dog hydrotherapy centre sees increased number of urgently ill 'lockdown puppies'
A hydrotherapy centre in Leeds has been able to remain open during lockdown to nurse seriously ill dogs - and has seen an increase in puppies through its doors recently.
Since Hydro Paws in Morley opened in 2012, the team has been treating poorly pups using hydrotherapy, focusing on veterinary referrals and clinical cases of dogs which need rehabilitation.
The centre has been allowed to remain open during lockdown to treat 'urgent clinical cases where the animal's welfare may be compromised without treatment' but owner Michelle Wilson said that while it is concerning that they are treating less dogs at the moment, an increased amount of puppies are being treated at the centre.
Michelle runs the National Association of Registered Canine Hydrotherapists (NARCH) centre which has a hydrotherapy pool and underwater treadmill for dogs to use.
The centre treats a range of different dogs, including to aid in post-surgery recovery, injury recuperation, fitness, weight loss and offer general fun swims.
Michelle said: "We offer a maximum of 20 minutes swim time or 15 minutes on the underwater treadmill for the dogs.
"The pool is non-weight bearing and the underwater treadmill is more controlled for surgical cases but it does all depend on what the dog needs.
"At the moment we're only allowed to treat urgent clinical cases where the animal's welfare would be compromised without treatment, so we are seeing less dogs.
"But actually a lot of younger dogs have been coming through recently, the 'lockdown puppies', and where we usually do see some younger dogs with early arthritis, we are seeing more of them for treatment for that and other things now."
Michelle added that the team have been seeing more dogs during lockdown with early diagnosed conditions that they usually don't see until later in the dog's life.
She said: "We are happy to help the most serious and most in-need dogs but we are wanting to be able to help them all as we usually do when we aren't in lockdown.
"We've been assessing dogs and keeping in contact with owners about the maintenance of dogs and if they think they need us we've said to bring them in so we can assess them to put the owner's mind at rest, but unfortunately because of lockdown we've got to assess who we class as urgent and clinical."
Hydrotherapy reduces pressure on joints which improves a range of motion, builds and maintains muscle mass, and it can also increase cardiovascular fitness, and strength.
The use of warm water enhances blood circulation, relaxes muscle spasms, reduces pain, inflammation and stiffness in dogs.
Hydro Paws assesses all animals assessed individually to adapt a tailor made hydrotherapy program best suited to their needs.