By Shannon Traphagen

Swimming provides a great workout. It requires that you move your whole body against the resistance of the water, and keeps your heart rate up while taking impact stress off your body. According to researchers at Bucknell University and the USA Swimming Association, swimming helps the cardiovascular system while reducing stress and anxiety.

It is not surprising that swimming for therapeutic purposes (hydrotherapy) is also beneficial for man’s best friend. “Hydrotherapy helps dogs who have arthritis, paralysis. It is used for pre and post-surgery rehabilitation, injury prevention and rehabilitation, obesity, dysplasia, balance and coordination,” says Cindy Horsfall, of La Paw Spa in Washington State, and founder of the Association of Canine Water Therapy.

Here in WNY SandDancer Canine Swim in Orchard Park offers one-on-one therapeutic swim. “A desire to help senior dogs live fullers, pain-free lives inspired me to create SandDancer,” says Marybeth Glatz. Having trained at La Paw Spa under Horsfall, Glatz saw how hydrotherapy benefits dogs and dog owners. It really began for Glatz when her own dog developed age-associated health issues. “I wanted to provide him with as much time and comfort as possible, became certified in hydrotherapy, and moved back to Buffalo to start SandDancer.”

“I noticed improvement in the dogs I was working with almost immediately,” Glatz said. “Canine hydrotherapy is not just good for their joint health, but it also improves their lymphatic systems by increasing lymph drainage and decreasing inflammation.” According to the Association of Canine Swim Therapy, it can also benefit their circulatory, endocrine, digestive, and nervous system.

Joe and Jillian Benedict couldn’t agree more. “Our dog Bogey had double hip dysplasia when he was just two-years-old. It had taken a significant toll on our pup by the time he was three. He wouldn’t play, walked with a limp, and was very depressed. Because of this, he couldn’t do what he was born to do—hunt. We happened to stumble across SandDancer and decided to give it a try. After just one visit, Bogey seemed like a new dog. Is he cured? No. But he is back to his happy self. After a few visits he is walking better and has been able to hunt a few times. Eight months in, Bogey is living—and thriving. His weight is better controlled and he’s cut his pain medication in half. He’s back to loving life,” Benedict states.

Taking my own ten year old Labrador to SandDancer, my husband and I have watched with shear exhilaration as he swims happily, gaining strength each time he gets in the pool. He runs and plays more at home, and his endurance level has increased greatly. Not only has it helped our dog, but my husband and I enjoy watching him swim. It’s therapeutic for us and a very relaxing environment.

For more information about SandDancer Canine Swim visit, call 716.380.8244, or stop by 6084 Powers Rd. Orchard Park NY.