What is Hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapy means “therapy in water” and is used for rehabilitation and exercise.

How Hydrotherapy helps

Hydrotherapy can be used to help dogs exercise when their ability to move is reduced due to surgery, injury, health or weight concerns.

Water aids rehabilitation and exercise via:

  • Buoyancy: reduced weight on joints allowing more comfortable exercise
  • Hydrostatic Pressure: can help reduce swelling and inflammation

Resistance and Viscosity: water resistance can aid with muscle strengthening and cardiovascular fitness. Viscosity together with buoyancy can help patients with poor balance be able to stand more easily.


The benefits of underwater treadmill

The underwater treadmill has significant benefits over ordinary free swimming.

  • Water level can be adjusted depending on patient’s ability, weight and progress.
  • Temperature of the water is controlled so muscles are working to their full potential and core body temperature is not affected.

Speed of the treadmill can be adjusted to ensure proper use of each leg with a focus on the areas needing rehabilitation.

Who benefits from Hydrotherapy

Many dogs can benefit from Hydrotherapy including (but not limited to):

  • Arthritis
  • Post Orthopaedic Surgery, including:
  • Cruciate ligament surgery
  • Patella surgery
  • Fractures
  • Developmental Joint Disease including Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
  • Spinal Conditions such as:
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease
  • Fibrocartilagenous Embolism
  • Other Neurologic Disease or Injury
  • Soft Tissue Disease or Injury
  • Overweight dogs requiring gentle exercise

Assessment before Hydrotherapy

Our vet will perform a thorough assessment of your dog prior to Hydrotherapy.

The initial consultation assesses many aspects including your dog’s current activity levels, gait, joint mobility, muscle size and cardiovascular fitness. We develop a rehabilitation plan based on the needs of your dog.

What happens during a session

Our Hydrotherapy Nurses conduct the Hydrotherapy sessions. They will check if you have any concerns with your dog and how they have been going at home. They will follow the rehabilitation plan as recommended by your vet.

Your dog will be fitted with a life jacket and we introduce them to the treadmill prior to filling it with water to the required level for your dog. Each session will be followed by a towel dry and a relaxing massage.

Important things to know before hydrotherapy

There are some situations that mean we are not able to use hydrotherapy including:

  • Open wounds, severe skin conditions, unhealed surgery sites
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Contagious conditions e.g. canine cough, ringworm
  • Cardiac or Respiratory compromise
  • Uncontrolled Epilepsy
  • Other medical conditions such as urinary tract infection (but once recovered are ok to proceed with hydrotherapy)

Please let us know if your dog has had any new health concerns prior to their session.

Prior to each session we request you do the following:

  • Take your dog for a toilet walk just prior to their session
  • Bath or give them a good brush out in the 24-48 hours prior
  • Bring along favourite treats or toys

What if my dog doesn’t like water?

We always work with your dog to create a positive experience with the underwater treadmill.

We will start them in the treadmill without any water and give lots of treats! We can progressively add small amounts of water and continue with treats.

It may take a few sessions to get them used to the water at the level required for rehabilitation. Some dogs may not enjoy the treadmill even with a careful introduction. If this is the case, we can develop an alternate rehabilitation plan that doesn’t involve water.

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