Swimming Can Improve Your Dog's Mobility, Study Reveals!

Swimming Can Improve Your Dog's Mobility, Study Reveals!

Swimming is a low impact and non-weight bearing exercise that improves mobility in dogs, a study indicates.

Researchers Tate Preston and Dr Alison Wills from the University Centre Hartpury have found that canine hydrotherapy benefits healthy dogs and Labrador Retrievers with elbow dysplasia by improving their gait, frequency and length of stride, and range of motion.


  • Elbow dysplasia is a genetic condition in dogs involving multiple developmental abnormalities of the elbow joint that can lead to forelimb lameness.
  • Canine hydrotherapy is a therapeutic approach for the treatment of a range of musculoskeletal pathologies.
  • Kinematics is the study of pure motion without reference to the forces or masses involved in it.


  • Reflective markers were attached to the legs of the small group of Labrador Retrievers, while a camera tracked the movement of the markers.
  • Kinematic analysis was used to assess the data on the effect of a customized hydrotherapy session on the range of motion, stride frequency, and stride length of Labrador Retrievers diagnosed with elbow dysplasia and healthy Labrador Retrievers.


The study highlights three findings on canine hydrotherapy:

  • It increases the range of motion in dogs with elbow dysplasia.
  • It influences the stride parameters in dogs with elbow pathology and healthy dogs.
  • It could be beneficial in the management of Labrador Retrievers with elbow dysplasia.


The results indicate that swimming improves the gait and movement of healthy dogs and support its potential as a therapeutic tool for rehabilitation and treatment of elbow dysplasia. Whether these results are transient or sustained is undetermined.

The team is interested in expanding their research to include German Shepherds and other breeds that are predisposed to developing elbow dysplasia.

Feature Image Source: Pixabay

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