February 03, 2017

Underwater Treadmills: Most Effective for Obese Cats

Mary Ellen Goldberg, BS, LVT, CVT, SRA, CCRA, certified veterinary pain practitioner with VetMedTeam, LLC., discusses why the underwater treadmill is the most effective physical rehabilitation method for obese cats.
By American Veterinarian Editorial Staff
Mary Ellen Goldberg, BS, LVT, CVT, SRA, CCRA, certified veterinary pain practitioner with VetMedTeam, LLC., discusses why the underwater treadmill is the most effective physical rehabilitation method for obese cats.


 
Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)
 
“The underwater treadmill is probably going to be the easiest thing to start obese cats in, because, as I said, as you play with them, many of these obese cats they don’t feel like playing—all they want to do is lay around and eat. If they’re in the underwater treadmill, that can help. I will give recommendations, slowly. So, it’s going to be brief—2 minutes in the underwater treadmill maximum when you’re starting out.
 
You don’t want to tax their bodies so they can’t breathe or they’re having problems, you also don’t want them to lose interest and not do something. You also need to be very aware in the underwater treadmill, the lower the level of water, the more difficult it is for the animal to move. If you have the water at the shoulder level, it’s easier for them to move and get around than it is at the elbow or at the ankle—at the carpus or the tarsus. So, when you’re working with them, you want to have it at the highest level that they can do because that begins as the easiest for them. Additionally, you want to have a little lifejacket on them. You want to be in the underwater treadmill with them, because these animals can drown. If they can’t walk and they lay down and they can’t do anything, they can easily drown. So, sometimes they need a little lifejacket until you know they have the strength to be able to support their weight and [have] the endurance to do the exercise.
 
You can have things in the underwater treadmill like pool noodles to keep them on the treadmill because they’ll also try to cheat. The sides of the underwater treadmill don’t move, and if they can stand on the sides and not have a belt that’s moving and not be forced to walk, they’ll do it. Pool noodles can be put in and kind of keeps them in line on the belt, and those kinds of tricks you can learn.”
 
 

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