What's hydrotherapy for dogs and do vets near me offer it?
Hydrotherapy uses water to treat or relieve illness or injury. It works effectively for us humans, and it can work for your dog, too. Canine hydrotherapy provides a relaxed way for your dog to take part in supportive and controlled swimming exercise that can ease aches, pains and stiffness, and help the body recover from injury.
To find a dog hydrotherapy centre near you, first try our referral guide, simply by selecting hydrotherapy in the pull-down menu at the top right of the page. If you can't find a hydroptherapy centre nearby, ask your local vet for recommendations. You can also search online for canine hydrotherapy facilities in your area. The Canine Hydrotherapy Association offer directories of approved hydrotherapy centres as do the National Association of Registered Canine Hydrotherapists.
Though practitioners don’t have to qualify to become a canine hydrotherapist, most are self-regulated by the CHA. Do your research before booking a trial hydrotherapy session. Once you’ve narrowed your search down to one or two options, it’s a good idea to visit in person to check the quality of the facilities, the insurance cover provided, the credibility and professionalism of the staff, and their treatment recommendations for your dog.
Hydrotherapy has been proven to help dogs in the following circumstances:
- Dogs recovering from nerve damage or muscle injury
- Obese or overweight dogs
- Dogs with arthritis or dysplasia
- Dogs recovering from surgery, especially joint or spine surgery
- Older dogs that find outdoor exercise too rigorous or tiring
- Dogs that have suffered neurological insults
- Dogs that need increased fitness and muscle tone
How does hydrotherapy work?
Canine hydrotherapy can be pool based or treadmill based. Pools allow the dogs to swim as we would in a swimming pool; however, with underwater treadmills, the dogs walk on the treadmill whilst being supported or resisted by the water depending on the type of exercise that is needed for the treatment protocol. Once a hydrotherapy professional has taken your dog’s measurements and discussed his/her medical history with you, your dog will be introduced to short sessions of hydrotherapy. Subsequent sessions can last longer as your dog becomes accustomed to the exercise.
Exercising in water can support your dog’s limbs, joints, and muscles in a way that everyday exercise can’t. Because your dog can then effectively be weightless, this controlled exercise can stimulate and exercise your dog’s joints and muscles with less of the stress or pain that can be caused by regular exercise.
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The cost of dog hydrotherapy varies depending on the location, the type of session (pool or treadmill), and the specific needs of your dog. Individual sessions can typically range from £40 to £70, with some centres offering package deals for multiple sessions. It’s important to enquire about the cost during your initial consultation and check if the hydrotherapy centre offers any discounted rates for ongoing treatments. Remember, investing in your dog's health through hydrotherapy could save you money in the long run by potentially reducing the need for more extensive medical treatments.
Advice on hydrotherapy for dogs
For expert advice on canine hydrotherapy, ask your local vet if he or she can recommend a hydrotherapy practitioner in your area.