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Swimming Helps Dogs Stay Active, Scientists Say

Swimming is not only great for therapy, but also keeps dogs fit.

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A recent study shows the benefits swimming has on dogs. Via stoute_meisie/Instagram
Cari Jorgensen

My dog cannot stand water. He stays as far away from the pool as possible, looks at the hose skeptically and pees on the porch rather than go on the grass when it’s raining. God forbid anyone tries to give him a bath. Swimming, for him, is out of the question. For water-loving dogs, however, it’s a great method of keeping fit.

Researchers from Hartpury University Centre in the United Kingdom studied hydrotherapy and the effects it has not only on Labrador Retrievers with elbow dysplasia, but also healthy Labradors.

“Dogs with elbow dysplasia displayed an increased range in motion, stride frequency and stride length — measures of mobility in our study — after the hydrotherapy,” Dr. Alison Wills, one of the researchers, said in a press release. “Interestingly, the healthy controls also showed significantly better stride characteristics. From the findings of this study, it does appear that swimming is good for dogs.”

Tate Preston/Hartpury University Centre and College

To measure the dogs’ strides, Wills and fellow researcher Tate Preston marked the dogs’ limbs and used a camera to track where the markers moved. Wills and Preston then analyzed the information to learn how the dogs’ movements while walking differed before and after swimming, according to the press release. The short video above by Tate Preston with the Hartpury University Centre and College shows a dog undergoing the hydrotherapy for the study.

Since the study only looked at Labradors, the research team would like to expand the study to other breeds of dogs. Because of the small sample size, Wills is cautious about generalizing the findings.

“Dogs also come in all shapes and sizes so what works for one may not for another,” Wills said in the press release. “Even so, most dogs still find swimming fun!”

That is, if the dog likes water.

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