Hydrotherapy benefits a range of conditions of the joints, muscles, bones and ligaments. It may assist some neurological conditions and can improve circulation. It speeds healing by reducing inflammation, stiffness and pain. It increases general fitness, helps with weight loss and will often increase a dog's mental health.

The rest of this page lists conditions that may benefit from hydrotherapy treatment. However, if your dog has been diagnosed with one of these conditions, please do not automatically assume that hydrotherapy is suitable. Your veterinary surgeon will decide if it is suitable and we'll follow their recommendations if they refer your dog to us.

Joint Conditions

Hydrotherapy provides needed non-weight-bearing exercise that builds muscle but does not stress joints so allowing them to heal. It may also increase joint mobility.

Conditions treated include:

  • Cervical spondylopathy - a degeneration of the disks in the neck causing stiffness, pain and swelling.
  • Hip or elbow dysplasia - a hereditary malformation of the joint that causes lameness.
  • Hip replacement operation recovery.
  • Intervertebral disc protrusion - a disk in the spine moving out of line.
  • Legg-Calve Perthes disease - a bone disease that affects the top of the long leg bone inside the hip socket that causes lameness.
  • Luxating patella - a condition where the kneecap dislocates or moves out of position causing lameness and discomfort.
  • Osteo-arthritis - a form of joint degeneration.
  • Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) - a condition requiring the surgical removal of loose flaps of cartilage.

Spinal Conditions

Hydrotherapy may be suitable for treating spondylosis, a degeneration of the spine and deformity of the joints that occurs with aging.

Muscle Conditions

Hydrotherapy is a safe way to build or repair muscle because the level of exertion can be finely controlled.

Conditions treated include:

  • Injuries of soft tissues other than muscle.
  • Low muscle mass which can be improved in strength and endurance.
  • Muscle sprains, strains, spasms and ruptures.
  • Stiffness due to muscle damage.

Bone Conditions

Hydrotherapy allows exercising of dogs with fractured or cut bones that are too fragile to bear weight. Weight-bearing can gradually and safely be increased as bones heal.

Conditions treated include:

  • Bone fractures - cracked or broken bones.
  • Osteotomy recovery - recovery from a surgical cutting or shortening of a bone.
  • Tibial Plateau Levelling Osteotomy (T.P.L.O) recovery - recovery from surgery of the joint on the lower leg bone.

Ligament and Tendon Conditions

Hydrotherapy makes possible the gradual and gentle exercising of fragile or damaged ligaments and tendons.

Conditions treated include:

  • Cruciate ligament disorders - damage to a key ligament in the knee joint.
  • Ligament sprains.
  • Tendon rupture and damage.

Circulation Conditions

Hydrotherapy gives the dog a thorough work-out, improving circulation and building the strength of the heart. The level of exertion can be controlled to meet individual patient's needs more finely than is possible with exercise out of the water. The hydrostatic pressure of water at a depth of three feet is 17 pounds per square inch. The pressure assists circulation and ensures a good cardiovascular workout.

Conditions treated include:

  • Heart conditions.
  • Other cardiovascular or circulatory conditions.
  • Some skin conditions.

Neurological Conditions

Hydrotherapy is a safe way to exercise dogs with neurological conditions, encouraging them to use paralysed muscles.

Conditions treated include:

  • Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyelopathy (C.D.R.M.) - a gradual loss of coordination in the hind limbs because of deterioration of the spinal cord.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Paralysis.
  • Spinal injuries.

Pre and Post Operation

Pre-operative conditioning such as muscle building and toning before surgery can prevent damage to the affected joints and reduces the rehabilitation time after the surgery. Post-operative therapy has similar benefits.

Pain Relief

Exercise without pain offers an improved quality of life for the dog. Hydrotherapy reduces pain. Endorphins, the feel-good factor, are released during exercise, promoting natural pain relief as well as making your dog feel great. As a result, the dog will be happier and have more energy.

Mental Health

Hydrotherapy promotes relaxation and a release of feel-good endorphins. It is mentally stimulating.

Physical Fitness

Because swimming is a non-weight bearing exercise, it allows a greater range of movement and is therefore a complete form of exercise. Exercise in water increases stamina and promotes recovery allowing further strengthening exercise on land.

Working dogs, racing dogs, show dogs or those requiring stamina can also benefit from hydrotherapy sessions. Programmes can be tailored to keep them in top physical condition by toning up the cardiovascular system, and strengthening and maintaining muscles, so building resistance to injury.

Weight Loss

Normal exercising of obese dogs can lead to damaged joints, lameness and discomfort. Hydrotherapy assists weight loss and provides a safe way to exercise obese dogs who would damage their joints with vigorous exercise out of the water. Therefore, exercise in the pool combined with a calorie controlled diet can prevent further damage and aid weight loss.

Sometimes dogs that need surgery cannot be operated on until weight loss is achieved. Hydrotherapy can help the dog to lose weight without exacerbating the condition that the veterinary surgeon is waiting to operate on. We regularly weigh and measure your dog so you can see how well your dog is progressing in their weight loss programme.

Disabled and Elderly Dogs

Elderly or disabled dogs, that are not normally able to weight bear or walk normally unaided, find being weightless enables them to use their limbs freely in the water. Even though their limbs do not function properly on land they will try to use them in the water. With regular hydrotherapy sessions strength and limb function improve dramatically as does the dog's mental health.