Hydrotherapy for humans has been used since ancient times, and some attempt at formalising treatment was made during the 18th century. Similarly, the benefits of sea water for the treatment and prevention of leg injuries in horses has been known for centuries. The greyhound racing industry eventually recognised the benefits of the equine treatment, and from there, the therapy was extended to dogs in general.

Hydrotherapy can be used as an alternative or complement to weight-bearing exercise and medication as it speeds up recovery after operations or slow the progression of degenerative conditions. It may be used as a pre-operative fitness regime in order to allow a dog to maintain condition before an operation if it cannot exercise normally. Spinal injuries or surgery can cause impairment of motor function, which may be treated by allowing the dog to exercise in water; it provides support and allows the dog to continue to exercise its muscles while nerve regeneration is taking place.

Explaining Canine Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is the use of water to heal. You can use cold water to reduce inflammation or you can use hot water to reduce pain and stiffness. A hot spa is wonderful because besides the heat treatment, the jets also act as a massage.  Swimming is great exercise because there is no impact on the joints but the water gives resistance.

Common conditions where hydrotherapy can help

Canine hydrotherapy can help with the following conditions –

  • Spinal patients:  Swimming is a great exercise for these patients as it is a reflex to kick in the water and it helps to open the neural pathways.
  • Cruciate patients:  We sometimes treat patients with a partial cruciate tear but otherwise we are seeing patients for post- operative recovery. The hydrotherapy is very beneficial to strengthen the muscles and regain extension of the stifle.
  • Hip dysplasia patients: Swimming is very important for these patients as it strengthens the gluteal muscle which helps to hold the hips in the sockets.
  • Arthritis patients: The hot spa and swimming in a heated pool helps with pain and increases mobility.
  • Overweight patients: A weekly weigh in and swimming as a cardiovascular exercise. There is no impact on these already overloaded joints.
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