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The Benefits of Aquatic Therapy for Overweight Pets

A photo of a dog in a pool with a life jacket on, enjoying aquatic therapy to help with weight loss. Alt Text: A happy overweight pet dog enjoying the benefits of aquatic therapy.

Experience the transformation in your overweight pets through the benefits of aquatic therapy. Explore the journey of weight management, physical rehabilitation, and improved health with water-based exercises.


Obesity is not just a human issue. Our pets are facing the same battle, with nearly 56% of dogs and 60% of cats in the United States considered overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. If you’re a pet parent wrestling with the challenge of an overweight pet, aquatic therapy could be your lifesaver. But what is it exactly? And how can it benefit your pet? Let’s dive into the world of aquatic therapy for pets.

The Benefits of Aquatic Therapy for Overweight Pets

Aquatic therapy for pets, also known as hydrotherapy, is a type of rehabilitative treatment that leverages the physical properties of water, such as buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, and resistance, to facilitate recovery and improve physical condition. It has gained immense popularity over the last few years due to its efficacy and the multitude of benefits it brings to the table. Let’s get our paws wet and explore these benefits in more detail.

Why is Aquatic Therapy Essential for Overweight Pets?

The benefits of aquatic therapy for overweight pets are far-reaching. Excess weight puts undue strain on an animal’s joints, making movement painful and challenging. It also increases the risk of various health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. Aquatic therapy serves as a low-impact exercise that can help reduce these risks and provide a healthy, enjoyable form of exercise for pets.

Low-Impact Exercise

Overweight pets may struggle with land-based exercises due to the extra weight they carry. Aquatic therapy provides an environment where they can exercise with minimal joint stress, which is crucial for obese pets who are at higher risk of developing joint issues such as arthritis.

Weight Loss

The resistance of the water during aquatic therapy provides a vigorous workout, helping your pet burn more calories than traditional exercise methods. Additionally, the cool water can help regulate body temperature, allowing pets to exercise for longer periods without overheating.

Enhanced Mobility and Strength

Aquatic therapy provides an excellent opportunity to improve an overweight pet’s muscle strength and overall mobility. In water, pets are motivated to move more and the buoyancy support allows them to perform movements they may find difficult on land.

Pain Relief

If your pet is suffering from any pain due to excess weight or joint problems, aquatic therapy can provide significant relief. The warm water used in therapy helps soothe aching muscles and joints, creating a comfortable exercise environment for pets.

Improved Mental Health

Just like humans, pets can also suffer from mental health issues, and carrying extra weight might contribute to feelings of discomfort, lethargy, and irritability. Regular aquatic therapy sessions can help uplift their mood, improve their confidence, and encourage positive behavior.

Aquatic Therapy Methods for Overweight Pets

Aquatic therapy can be administered in a variety of ways, and the method chosen largely depends on the specific needs of your pet. Let’s look at some of the most common methods.

Underwater Treadmills

Underwater treadmills allowpets to walk or run while being partially submerged in water. The water provides resistance for a more vigorous workout, while also supporting the pet’s weight, reducing the impact on their joints.

Swimming Pools

Swimming pools can be used for both guided and free swimming sessions. A trained therapist often accompanies the pet in the pool, guiding them through the exercises.


Whirlpools provide a more relaxing and therapeutic form of aquatic therapy. The warm water and gentle massage action can help soothe aching muscles and joints.

Is Aquatic Therapy Safe for All Pets?

Aquatic therapy is generally considered safe for most pets, but as with any therapy, there are some precautions. Not all pets are suitable for aquatic therapy, especially those with certain medical conditions. Always consult your vet before starting any new exercise regimen for your pet.

Precautions and Care in Aquatic Therapy

Though aquatic therapy has numerous benefits for overweight pets, it’s crucial to ensure your pet’s safety during sessions. Therapists should be appropriately trained and experienced. The therapy pool must be clean, and the water temperature should be carefully controlled. Your pet should also be closely monitored for any signs of distress during therapy.

Where to Find Aquatic Therapy for Pets?

Finding a reliable and experienced aquatic therapy provider for your pets can be daunting, but there are several resources available. Your vet can often recommend facilities, or you can do your own research by checking online reviews and testimonials.

The Cost of Aquatic Therapy for Pets

The cost of aquatic therapy for pets can vary widely depending on the location, duration of the sessions, and the specific requirements of your pet. On average, a single session can range from $30 to $75. Many clinics offer package deals, which can reduce the overall cost per session.


1. How often should my pet have aquatic therapy sessions?

The frequency of aquatic therapy sessions depends on your pet’s specific needs and overall health. A typical regimen might include one to two sessions per week, but your vet or a trained therapist can provide a more personalized plan.

2. Will my pet enjoy aquatic therapy?

Many pets thoroughly enjoy their time in the water. However, as with any new experience, it might take a few sessions for your pet to become comfortable.

3. How quickly will I see results from aquatic therapy?

The timeframe for noticeable results can vary. Some pets show improvements after a few sessions, while others may require several weeks or months of regular therapy.

4. Can aquatic therapy replace my pet’s regular exercise?

While aquatic therapy is an excellent form of exercise, it should not entirely replace other forms of activity. Pets still need regular walks and playtime for a balanced exercise regimen.


The benefits of aquatic therapy for overweight pets can significantly enhance their health, mobility, and quality of life. While it may seem daunting at first, with proper guidance and a bit of patience, it could be just the thing to get your furry friend’s tail wagging with joy once more.

Remember, our pets are reliant on us for their health and wellbeing. They might not be able to tell us in words when they’re feeling down, but by paying close attention to their behavior and health, we can ensure they live their best lives. Here’s to healthier, happier pets!

Dr. Sara Lam

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