Therapy Facts

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Canine Bodywork and Massage

During a water therapy session, even if your dog has only signed up for a swim conditioning program, there will need to be resting times as water is up to 20 times the resistance of air. It is during these resting times when bodywork and massage are ideal. An experienced therapist should be noticing the movement and strength used during a swim. Limitations to the gait and movement are detectable in the 3 dimensionality of water – and then during …

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My dog doesn’t use his back legs when swimming

Question: My dog doesn’t use his back legs when swimming. Answer: Good question! I was horrified when I first started back in 1996 and noticed that probably 50% of dogs don’t use their back legs in water…. And then I remembered the dog paddle – – – remember when you were a little kid and you learned how to dog paddle? That’s strictly a front arm paddle… Since nearly 80% of the dogs who come to see me in spa are coming …

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My Dog does not like to be in water. Can he still benefit?

My Dog does not like to be in water. Can he still benefit? Question: My Dog does not like to be in water. Can he still benefit from therapy at La Paw Spa? Answer: Cindy at La Paw Spa excels in the department of emotional safety in water. She has built her practice and school on the importance of this. The first session is always about emotions and Cindy takes great care in helping the dogs onto the steps where …

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My Dog does not know HOW to swim. Is water therapy really the right thing?

Question: My Dog does not know HOW to swim. Is water therapy really the right thing for him? Answer: First of all, it’s really important to understand that swimming is only a portion of the benefit of warm water therapy. With some dogs, swimming isn’t even a part of the program at all. We always begin with bodywork and ROM work at the steps of the pool and slowly get deeper in the water as your dog’s trust and comfort …

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Can I get in the water with my dog?

Question: Can I get in the water with my dog? Answer: Absolutely !!! However, on our first session – you will be better support for your dog by being at pool side. Cindy does most of her first session at the steps, talking with you and getting to know your dog and your dog getting to know and trust her and the pool… there is a lot going on with that first session and we like to keep things safe …

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Do you have any shorter appointments?

Question: I see that all of your appointments are an hour long. I don’t think that my dog can handle that much activity. Do you have any shorter appointments available? Answer: Spa time is a lot more than just the time spent swimming! Along with swimming, we also spend time doing gentle range of motion and massage. We understand that swimming takes a great deal of effort (twenty times more than moving in air!), so we are very careful not to …

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Do you use Life Jackets?

Question: Do you use Life Jackets at La Paw Spa? Answer: If you are coming to Cindy for a therapy session, she will be in the water for the entire session with your pup. She will choose not to use a life jacket in a session so that she can see the full range of motion used in the water and to be able to do bodywork accordingly. Cindy will support as needed so that your dog will never feel …

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When can I do self swimming?

Question: When can I do self swimming? Answer: Well, that depends on your skill and what your dog requires. Many people who want to self swim require only one instructional session from Cindy and then they are well on their way. Some people prefer to spend a bit more time with Cindy before they feel capable of “taking the oars”, so to speak. This is highly individual, and something to be decided between you, Cindy, and your canine partner. The most important …

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How many sessions will my dog require?

Question: How many sessions will my dog require at La Paw Spa? Answer: Well.. this is a loaded question… the answer to this one depends on about 20 different variables – maybe more. We first will want to discuss your situation with your veterinarian and come up with what our goals are for the work. Here are some examples of programs that have worked well with other dogs – and what we usually do is start slow, take notes and the answer …

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Is my dog too big to swim in your pool?

Question: Is my dog too big to swim in your pool? And how are we going to get him in? Answer: When my buddy, Cardiff, arrived at the pool, he resembled a small horse weighing in at 240 pounds. This was the largest dog that had ever visited La Paw Spa. Well okay, he was actually the biggest dog I had ever seen! I almost snuck out the back door!!! To get this big fella in the pool, his ‘Mom’ …

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What do I need to bring?

Question: What do I need to bring to my spa appointment? Answer: After we have made an appointment for you, please go to the the website and print out the FORMS to bring with you to your first session. If you hit the submit button after you have filled out these forms,then I will get a copy to review before I meet with you – this will help me become more educated about your pup before I meet him/her. All …

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Do you use hoists?

Question: Do you use hoists? How will you get my dog into the water? Answer: This is where I could get on a soap box and stand on street corners… I would never use a hoist… there has never been a dog that we haven’t been able to safely get into the water. I have learned that we need to protect the dogs emotions – especially in that first session as it sets the stage for how therapy will progress. …

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What else do I need to know before coming?

Question: What else do I need to know before coming to La Paw Spa? Answer: There are many things that will help us to keep the pool safe and clean for everyone. Here are a few tips: Please be certain that your dog is brushed before coming to the spa.If you are self swimming, please be certain to skim the pool of as much hair as possible after your session as a courtesy to the client who comes in after …

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Do you wear a wetsuit or some kind of full body armour?

Question: Do you wear a wet suit or some kind of full body armour when you work with dogs in water? Don’t you get scratched up doing this work? Answer: This is another one of those soapbox questions! This question always makes me smile… I actually wear as little as I can getaway with in the water when I work – – – and as I tell my students – if you get a scratch, it’s because you weren’t listening! …

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I hear that you teach classes and that the dogs you use for the class get free sessions

Question: I hear that you teach classes and that the dogs you use for the class get free sessions and have a lot of fun! How do I get one of these free sessions!? Answer: Yes !!! Just let me know and we’ll get you signed up! I teach 3 classes each year to students who have never worked in water and for these classes, I need easier dogs and usually draw on my client base. For the 2 advanced …

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You don’t usually answer your phone – how do we reach you?

Question: You don’t usually answer your phone – how do we reach you? Answer: I am truly sorry about that… I tried to hire staff for the phone thing but I really want to talk to you personally – it is a bit of a challenge when you work in water all the time – – – please do leave a message and dare to be obnoxious about it – pester me… please… In addition to a phone message – …

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You’re busy! How can I get my dog into see you?

Question: I notice you only provide sessions 4 days a week and don’t have a staff, how can I get my dog into see you? Answer: One of the big things I teach in all of my classes is to always be the best you can be, to take care of yourself and to be fully present when you are with a client. I practice what I preach here in providing therapy. I limit the number of people who I …

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Will a visit to benefit ME?

Question: I had a rough and stressful day. Will a visit to La Paw Spa benefit ME? Answer: OH, YES! Come on in and relax… let Cindy take care of your pup and you can sit back in one of the pool side chairs and just enjoy… the warmth of the water, the moisture in the air, the soft music – – – shut your eyes and take a nap even! You could almost transport yourself to some tropical islands …

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The DM Diagnosis

DEGENERATIVE MYELOPATHY (DM) This guide was compiled by a German Shepherd Dog owner who provided care for dogs with this disease. She is not a veterinarian. The guide is intended to provide general information and examples; it is not intended to be a substitute for expert advice and information that can only be provided by a qualified veterinarian familiar with Degenerative Myelopathy (DM). Consult your veterinarian and neurologist for accurate and complete information about DM. What is degenerative myelopathy (DM)? …

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Why Warm Water?

THE BENEFITS OF WARM WATER THERAPY: In Aquatic bodywork, we work from a comprehensive perspective that embraces both Eastern and Western models of the body. According to this expanded view, loss of flexibility in joints and muscles is not only physiological in origin, but emotional as well.*  Diminished Muscular Tension Increased Range of Motion Reduction of Pain Augmented Peripheral Circulation Normalization of Muscle Tone Reduced Stress and Anxiety Increased Body Awareness Release of Emotional Stress Warmth of the Water: As the temperature of the therapy pool approaches …

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Karma – Using Water to Rehab Canine Injury –

When we first brought Karma to swim with Cindy after her awful accident, we (along with the vets, who said it would not happen) were dubious that she would ever again regain full function. After 16 months she was 99% healed and went on to achieve her ASFA field Championship, in huge part due to her visits to La Paw Spa and Cindy’s gentle, healing ways. Karma has gone on to have a litter of her own, to run for …

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Cardiff – Surgical Recovery with Water Therapy –

I don’t even know where to begin…..I am in awe of how I’ve seen Cindy expand upon her vision this past year! What started as a dream, and a valuable one, has developed into a well sought after level of experience from canine lovers across the nation. To think of warm water canine therapy, you have to think of its pioneer… Cindy Horsfall. She not only assists those stepping into this business but continues to practice her devotion in the …

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Lilly – Swim Therapy for Spinal Injury

Hi my name is Lilly. I am only 5 years old and I have arthritis so bad that I was loosing the use of my hind legs. One day I went out to play and was having so much fun I jumped in the air and when I came down I could only walk backward not forward. That really scared my family so they rushed me to the vet. That is where we got the bad news. The vet gave …

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Water Therapy for the Canine Athelete

Weekend Warriors and Winter Couch Potatoes:How can we help to turn them into true Canine Athletes? By Debbie LaMonicaACWT Therapist, Washington It looks like it is springtime here in Washington. I say this not because it FEELS that way when I walk out my front door, but because the calendar says so. Pretty soon, what the calendar says, and what my senses feel, will match one another. This time of year, the thoughts of many a dog fancier turn to …

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Wobbler Syndrome

Wobbler syndrome (cervical (neck) vertebral instability) is caused by compression of the cervical spinal cord as a result of cervical vertebral malformation-malarticulation or instability. Spinal cord compression injures the portion of the spinal cord necessary for an animal to stand and move normally. In Doberman Pinscher and Great Dane dogs, the skeletal abnormality occurs predominantly in the last three cervical vertebrae (the fifth, sixth and seventh cervical vertebrae). The cause of the skeletal malformation or malarticulation is unknown. Clinical studies …

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What does Canine Warm Water Therapy Look Like? Graduates in the News!

Joyce Biethan, the owner of Unsinkable Dogs has created a wonderful K9 Warm Water Swim Center in the greater Portland and Vancouver area. Working at her pool is Mindy Mulligan, a level two graduate of La Paw Spa’s Aquatic Training Program and Judi Truskey, a level one graduate. These girls are offering wonderful service and this is a great video of some of the work that they do. Yeah Joyce, Mindy and Judi!!!

Is water therapy helpful for osteosarcoma?

Question: Hi Cindy- I am writing to you as you seem to have a wealth of knowledge & experience regarding canine water therapy! I am considering / researching some water therapy for our Rottweiler who has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma. We have unfortunately been down this road 2 other times with previous Rottweiler’s. It is heartbreaking to say the least. Our dog is 9 and we have chosen not to amputate. He is currently taking supplements, organic diet and a few …

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How can I get get my vet to support water therapy?

Question: I want my vet to support water therapy, what do I say to her about my work? I have been a groomer for all of my life and my own dog went through water therapy and now I am hooked. What can I tell my vet so that she might support me? Answer: Hello Pamela, You could just write her a note from your heart and explain your vision and dream – perhaps something like this: Dear Dr X, I love …

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