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To evaluate the effects of a flotation vest (FV) and water flow rate (WFR) on limb kinematics of dogs swimming against a current.


7 (1 male and 6 female) healthy adult Siberian Huskies.


Dogs were habituated to swim with and without an FV beside an investigator in a continuous-flow pool against WFRs up to 2.9 km/h. During each of 4 experimental sessions in a repeated-measures study, markers were wrapped around the right carpus and tarsus, and a video was recorded while each dog swam with or without an FV for about 2 minutes at each of 7 WFRs between 0 and 2.9 km/h when the WFR was incrementally decreased or increased. Motion tracking software was used to measure stroke excursion and frequency.


Stroke excursion varied more than frequency among all dogs and in response to changes in experimental conditions. The male dog and 1 female dog were unable to complete the study. For the remaining 5 dogs across all experimental conditions, mean tarsus excursion was 30% that of the carpus. Mean total excursion (sum of the excursion-frequency products for the carpus and tarsus) decreased when an FV was worn and increased with WFR by 69% and 19% when WFR was incrementally increased and decreased, respectively.


In dogs, range of motion during swimming was greater for the carpus than tarsus, when an FV was not worn, and increased more with WFR when WFR was incrementally increased. Those factors should be considered during swimming-based rehabilitation.

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research