Why take your dog swimming?

With a wet, chilly winter setting in, many dog owners will be less than happy about encouraging their pooch to jump in lakes or play in the sea, as they face the prospect of a muddy mutt bouncing around the house.

However, provided you choose an appropriate and safe place, swimming is remarkably good exercise for dogs and has numerous benefits.

And we don't just mean splashing around in muddy ponds, as there are now a number of hydrotherapy centres in the UK where you can take your pooch for a swim in a special canine pool.

So if you can put up with a wet pooch this winter, why not take Fido out for a splash and watch him reap the benefits?

Weight loss

If your pooch has been overindulging on their premium dog food and is carrying a little excess weight, swimming is the perfect non-impact exercise to help them get back into shape.

Often overweight pups are in poor shape physically and the excess pounds put pressure on their joints, so swimming in a hydrotherapy pool is perfect since it is non-weight bearing so it won't jar their limbs.

By booking your pup in for a few sessions and starting them on a calorie-controlled diet, you'll soon see positive results, and your pet will be much happier for it.

Healthy hounds

For years, hydrotherapy has been used to help rehabilitate humans who have sustained injuries or are suffering from joint problems such as arthritis, so it's not surprising that swimming can have similar benefits for your dog.

"Hydrotherapy allows exercise in a very controlled way, letting the muscles work whilst the body weight is supported by water," explains vet Pete Wedderburn, writing in the Telegraph.

"This is an excellent way of building muscle strength and endurance. There are a range of beneficial effects, including pain relief and improved range of movement of the joints."

If you think your pooch could benefit from this exercise, the best thing you can do is speak to your vet who can advise you on whether this is a good choice for your pup and point you in the direction of any registered hydrotherapy centres.

In addition, if your pooch simply has boundless energy, swimming can be a great way to help them work it off safely and help them become calmer at home.

Happy pups

Almost all dogs love water, and most pooches will be more than happy to jump into the pool and spend a session splashing around.

What's more, if you visit a hydrotherapy pool, this is the perfect opportunity for nervous dogs to get used to being handled in a safe environment.

In fact, so positive are the effects of canine hydrotherapy that the Doggie Paddle centre in the United States is donating swimming sessions to homeless dogs to improve their chances of adoption.

Speaking to the Dog Daily, Julie Thomas, who owns the canine therapeutic swimming and exercise business, explained: "They not only get in shape physically, but they also become more socialised and used to handling."

Written by: Hannah