May 18, 2022

Canine Hydrotherapy

I do not provide hydrotherapy but I work alongside local Hydrotherapy centres in Oxfordshire to provide the relevant land based therapy so that your dog receives therapy 7 days a week.

Hydrotherapy uses the physical properties of water as a rehabilitation treatment. It is one tool in the toolbox of therapy treatments. I work closely with local hydrotherapy centres and hydrotherapists to provide your animal with a complete therapy program both in water and on land (with homework) so that your animal receives relevant therapy 7 days a week.

Water supports the dog so that he is not weight bearing thereby reducing the stress on joints. This is beneficial for dogs as part of a rehabilitation program. Having land based therapy with a Physiotherapist alongside this is beneficial.

Hydrotherapy is a form of Physiotherapy in the human rehabilitation world and Physiotherapists work with people in hydrotherapy pools during their recovery. In the animal world, although vet physios are taught animal related hydrotherapy treatment, there are courses that train a person to become a pure canine hydrotherapist. Canine hydrotherapists tend to own and run the hydro-pools and provide water based rehabilitation for the same medical conditions as physios treat.

Hence physios and canine hydrotherapist often work together to give the dog the most beneficial mix of therapies to optimise their recovery.


Canine Hydrotherapy


So why would your dog benefit from both physiotherapy and hydrotherapy? And should you just choose one or the other?

In the story of rehabilitation and recovery, the body needs the following to return to good function:

  1. Little or no pain
  2. Good proprioception
  3. Good stability
  4. Muscle strength

Muscles strengthen quicker and with better functional quality when all the first 3 situations are well established. Both physios and hydrotherapists provide therapy that addresses all 4 of these areas but each have treatment options that bias some of these areas more than others.

Physiotherapy can address the first 3 (pain, proprioception and stability) on land with greater intensity and using a greater selection of therapy tools unique to your dog. This is appropriate from very early in the rehabilitation timeframe. Then Physios will give a controlled progressing exercise program to strengthen your dog’s muscles too.

A Physiotherapist will also give you a home based rehabilitation and management program so you can continue your pet’s therapy to improve recovery each day – That’s 7 day a week therapy.

Hydrotherapy is a way to increase muscle strength and can help in reducing pain and swelling so that the dog is more keen to exercise. Your dog works his muscles harder against the resistance of the water and so increases strength and muscle bulk.

So using both physiotherapy and hydrotherapy may give your dog the best combination of therapy for his condition.

This is not to say that all dogs need both therapies. Both therapies can be adapted to suit your dog, your lifestyle and commitments while still providing him with perfectly good rehabilitation. Physio and hydro can also be used separately at different times within your dog’s rehabilitation. Neither therapies are an overnight fix, the rehabilitation of your dogs will take weeks to months.

I work closely with Hydrotherapy centres. Some dogs can receive both their hydro and physio treatment on the same day but certainly an initial physiotherapy assessment (1hr) is best done on a different day to hydro.

So both physio and hydro will help if your dog is recovering from surgery or a neurological insult; or when managing medical conditions such as dysplasias, arthritis, cruciate ligament injuries or degenerative medical conditions.

Next steps

Phone me on 07767455168 to discuss your dog’s needs.

Note that it is a legal requirement to have your vets approval before a physiotherapist or canine hydrotherapist can assess and treat your dog.