Aquatic treadmill therapy (Getty Images )
When a walk in the park or a few games of fetch won't cut it, some pet owners turn to unconventional methods to help their pets shed pounds and treat health issues associated with extra-weight. From familiar to far-out, here are some ways canines are getting worked out and shaped up.
Laser therapy: Different classes of laser therapies can be used to increase blood flow around joints and muscles, making it easier for a pet to move and train. Excess pounds can weaken joints in the legs, making it harder to walk.
Underwater treadmills: It might look like an ordinary running machine, but fill it with water, and a regular walk goes the extra mile. Resistance from the water makes a 20-minute walk in the machine equal to about an hour's walk on land.
Resistance pools: To help rehabilitate an animal after broken bones, or to get the body moving to treat hip and other joint problems, a swim in a resistance pool can be used. The treatment also helps dogs learn to use their back legs while swimming, instead of doggie-paddling.
Acupuncture: The treatment is used for pain management, as well as treating arthritis, organ problems and stress. The tiny needles inserted into the skin began to be an accepted treatment for pets in 1975.
Agility training: Some owners don't want an animal that is just fit, they want a champion. Facilities like Integrative Pet Care offer more intense training and fitness courses for animals whose owners want them to compete in agility competitions. Hurdles, ramps, cones and other obstacles are combined with underwater treadmills and resistance pools to increase a dog's speed.
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