Underwater treadmill helps dogs walk again

2012-03-24 00:00

TESSA, a three-year old boerboel bitch, yesterday showed that a fat dog can easily lose weight while running for a few minutes on an underwater treadmill.

This treadmill was developed by Onderstepoort, the animal rehabilitation centre in the faculty of veterinary science of the University of Pretoria.

Head of the centre, Sister Theresa Frias, said the underwater treadmill was state-of-the-art equipment that offered vets and nurses the opportunity to engage directly with the handling and treatment of animals.

The boerboel shed 10 kg in seven weeks by running on the treadmill for three minutes a day.

Frias said Tessa’s knees were operated on last year and the surgeon recommended she lose weight. She slimmed from 70 kg to 59 kg.

Tessa is also on a strict diet.

Frias said: “This treadmill has placed us on a level footing with other well-known overseas universities and training institutions.

“It enables us to give the best treatment and training currently available in animal rehabilitation to our students and animals.”

Frias said the treadmill focused on treating specific injuries.

“The advantage of the treadmill is that the dog walks and it is not a swimming action.”

She said dogs that had to learn to walk again would benefit greatly from the treadmill.

Dr Henry Annandale, director of clinical services at the hospital, said bodily stimulation helped the animals to recover more quickly and older animals could be more mobile, which improved their quality of life.

Before the treadmill was developed the centre could only use a swimming pool to conduct hydrotherapy. A session on the treadmill costs R140.

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