Canine Hydrotherapy

The word 'Hydrotherapy' originates from Greece and translates into 'water healing'.

Originally used for humans but over the years has been just as successful on dogs, horses and even cats.

The most common problems treated with hydrotherapy

Arthritis, Hip Dysplasia, Cruciate Ligament Rupture, Patella Luxation, Elbow Dysplasia,
Degenerative Myelopathy, Ruptured Slipped disc, Spondylosis, Mobility conditions related to age and/or obesity,
Young active dogs on restricted exercise, Relief of pain and stiffness, Cardiovascular fitness, Spinal injuries,
Pre and post operative conditioning

Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise using nearly every muscle in the body. It also allows the animal to exercise in a non weight bearing environment which relieves pressure on joints and reduces pain.

Even young fit and healthy dogs can benefit from Hydrotherapy to build muscles in non weight bearing exercise, which is better than a regular walk or run and reduces the risk of reduced mobility when they reach their senior years.

Older dogs benefit from swimming in the warm conditions of a hydrotherapy pool, even if they have never swam before, like Teddy above, who was 8 years young when he had his first hydrotherapy session.

Five minutes swimming in the hydrotherapy pool is the equivalent of your dog walking 5 miles. Controlled swimming at a maintained temperature will improve a dogs range of muscle movement, reduce weight, and greatly improve their cardio vascular system. Swimming at temperatures between 26 and 29 degrees also improves the dog’s blood circulation.

Not only used to treat injuries, Hydrotherapy is often used to improve muscle tone on young and older dogs. The performance and stamina of working and agility dogs is improved with regular hydrotherapy sessions and with puppies who cannot be given too much exercise, Hydrotherapy is a way to get rid of excess energy, without putting any strain on their joints.

Before embarking on any Hydrotherapy with your dog, even if your dog does not have an injury, you must consult with your vet, who will be required to sign a consent form to ensure your dog is physically fit enough to embark on Hydrotherapy treatment and does not have any medical conditions that would be affected by swimming.

From personal experience, I would check with your local centre to ensure there is an experienced therapist in the pool with your dog, who is there to reassure your dog and monitor them throughout the swim. Your dog will be given regular breaks, and although your session may be for 30 minutes, your dog will not be in the pool for that long. After the swim, your dog will be be shampooed and dried before you leave.


Photos taken at Bearhugs Canine Hydrotherapy ©Julie Growcott


Veterinary Centers of America
American College of Veterinary Surgeons
UC Davis
Washington State University
American College of Veterinary Surgeons
Dogs Naturally
Dr Conor Brady

This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the advice provided by your veterinarian.