It’s not just humans who enjoy a good swim. Even though they’re limited to the doggy paddle, many dogs relish the chance to jump into water for exercise.
Like most activities right now, though, the coronavirus pandemic has made dog swim sessions much harder for those not living on the coast or near rivers and lakes.
If you’re in Leicestershire, you almost couldn’t be further from the sea. However, the new Soggy Dogs K9 Swim Centre in Earl Shilton has an alternative. Opened in December 2020, Soggy Dogs is a heated indoor swimming pool with facilities that would put your local people pool to shame. Available throughout lockdown for both swim lessons and hydrotherapy sessions, the pool welcomes dogs and owners alike.
The idea for Soggy Dogs came to owner Hannah Kennedy-Jackson when looking for help for her Bearded Collie, Bobby. After Bobby was diagnosed with joint problems, Hannah found he would require costly therapy.
While formal hydrotherapy has its place, Hannah wanted to give Bobby more opportunities to exercise in water and so set about building the Soggy Dogs pool.
Hannah told the Leicester Mercury newspaper that her motivation for opening the pool to other dogs came from her own experience of expensive hydrotherapy bills, “I know how stressful it is when you have huge vet bills. You need the hydrotherapy and it costs a fortune. We have been able to make it affordable. To see the dogs walk out confidently, looking better, it’s so rewarding.”
According to Dogby’s contributing vet, Dr Alex Crow, recreational swimming can be an important part of your dog’s exercise regime:
“Dogs love to swim. Take them near any body of water and most dogs can’t wait to get wet but there are many health benefits to swimming that many owners might not have realised.
“Hydrotherapy has long been used in both humans and dogs for rehabilitation after an injury due to its low-impact nature. Being submerged in water reduces the effects of gravity on the joints and so provides a great way to keep active and build muscle mass without putting too much strain on the joints. But you don’t have to visit a hydrotherapy pool for your dog to get the benefits of swimming, they can reap the benefits from having a good paddle in your local lake or the sea.
“Swimming is a great form of exercise for dogs. It strengthens cardiovascular health, improves circulation, builds muscle and burns calories. If you are trying to cut some excess weight off your overweight dog, then swimming is a great fat-burning activity to add into their routine – in fact just 1-minute of swimming equates to 4-minutes of running for your dog! Swimming also reduces the risk of injury when compared to land-based exercise and so can be particularly beneficial to older dogs who may have reduced mobility and vulnerable joints due to the effects of degenerative joint diseases such as osteoarthritis.
“Swimming not only improves your dog’s physical health but their mental health too. Playing in water provides them with very different stimulation to what they may be used to and can be a great way to let off any excess energy. Not to mention taking the plunge into a cool body of water can allow your dog an easy way to cool off on those hot summer days.“
Despite the covid-19 lockdown, Soggy Dogs has been able to remain open as it provides an essential service. Hannah and her team of three ensure that everyone coming to the pool follow the coronavirus regulations, including strict sanitary guidelines, social distancing, and wearing face masks out of the water. The pool is also cleaned regularly, with thorough sanitisation between sessions.
Dogs of all breeds and ages have used the pool so far, from Chihuahuas to New Foundlands. Human visitors seem to be loving the swim centre as well. One recent customer commented on the facility’s Facebook page, “Excellent facilities and friendly service. Clean and followed all Covid guidelines. Would definitely recommend. Thank you!”
Soggy Dogs is open 10am to 8pm seven days a week, with bookings available on their website.
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