Hydrotherapy means “water healing” in greek, and that’s exactly what it does – it heals a dog’s body via means of controlled exercise in warm water!
The purpose of exercising in warm water is to rehabilitate damaged/hurt joints while building strength without putting actual weight on the joints. That’s the beauty of the buoyancy effect water has!
Benefits of Hydrotherapy for dogs
Hydrotherapy for dogs has a plethora of benefits:
1) Speeds recovery process after surgery (e.g. knee surgery, fractures, amputations)
2) Easy on the joints and therefore great exercise for obese dogs
3) Slows progression of degenerative conditions (hip & elbow dysplasia, arthritis)
4) Helps dogs recover from paralysis
5) The treadmill hydrotherapy doesn’t require swimming, meaning it can also be used to treat dogs who don’t like to swim
6) Can support general fitness routine by improving balance & overall coordination
7) Great way of burning excess energy for high energy dogs
Where to take your dog for Hydrotherapy sessions
Hydrotherapy can take place in a larger, heated doggie pool, or in a small, heated pool on an underwater treadmill. Typically, hydrotherapy is offered at canine rehabilitation centers.
The CRI (Canine Rehabilitation Institute) can point you in the right direction of a therapist for your dog worldwide!
Many Pet Spas are also beginning to offer hydrotherapy services as they’re becoming a more common sight, and offer a plethora of wellness services for dogs (& cats).
I’ve taken one of my client dogs, Samoyed mix Bear, to a pet spa here in my area in NC a few times. He’s been having knee problems for a few years, and hurt his left front leg several months ago when slipping on the kitchen tile, causing a limp.
His veterinarian prescribed physical therapy, specifically hydrotherapy.
Bear’s physical therapist at Riverbark Pet Resort is trained medical professional Nikki who has been rehabilitating pets for 10 years and loves her job (go figure!).
Hydrotherapy sessions vary in length as they are customized to meet each K9 patient’s respective needs. Bear started out with 5 minutes of underwater treadmill walking, and has worked his way up to 20-25 minutes! As a result, he is doing so much better and his limp is nearly gone.
Side note: Peanut Butter has been a wonderful motivation for him to keep on walking!
When supervised by a trained medical professional, Hydrotherapy sessions are an effective, gentle means of rehabilitation. As mentioned above, it is also a wonderful way of burning excess energy in high energy breeds!
The cost for Hydrotherapy sessions will vary between pet spas and be dependent on their geographical location. Some pet insurance companies may cover a portion of the cost for physical therapy – if you’re looking into getting medical insurance for you pup, make sure to know which treatments are covered.
I wrote about my comparison of 12 different pet insurance companies a while back:
Do you have any experience with Hydrotherapy for dogs? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!