Hydrotherapy stands as one of the most effective natural therapies, offering many benefits for dogs. Whether your dog is recovering post-surgery, managing a chronic condition, or simply needs to maintain overall fitness, hydrotherapy is a gentle yet potent solution.

At RehabVet, we place paramount importance on each dog’s safety and individual needs. Our practice includes one-on-one hydrotherapy sessions, ensuring your pet gets the attention they deserve in a safe, secure environment.

Swimming, much like in humans, serves as an excellent exercise for dogs. Thanks to water’s buoyancy, dogs can enjoy a broader range of movements while experiencing reduced pressure on their weight-bearing joints. Our hydrotherapy pool’s warm water enhances blood circulation, alleviating muscle spasms and reducing pain, stiffness, and inflammation.

Hydrotherapy’s advantages extend beyond buoyancy, the water’s resistance promotes muscle strength without putting undue stress on your dog’s joints. Unlike on-land exercises where gravity’s pull can gradually weaken or damage limbs, hydrotherapy offers a safe yet challenging exercise routine.

When a dog is immersed in water, hydrostatic pressure is exerted. Greater depth translates to increased pressure, aiding in reducing swelling by moving body fluid away from affected areas. It also minimises pain perception, enabling dogs to move more freely.

Using warm water in hydrotherapy is advantageous as it expands blood vessels, enhancing blood circulation and giving muscles greater flexibility in limb movement.

At RehabVet, we advocate for a comprehensive approach to your dog’s well-being. While hydrotherapy offers numerous benefits, it should be complemented with regular on-land exercises, such as walking or running on padded ground, and a balanced diet. This approach ensures your beloved pet experiences the best overall health outcomes. 

Nino Stretching in the warm salted pool

Benefits of Hydrotherapy

  • Improved Muscle Strength: The water resistance strengthens muscles without causing excessive strain.

  • Joint Mobility: The buoyancy reduces the stress on joints, increasing range of motion.

  • Pain Relief: The warm water can help reduce discomfort associated with chronic conditions.

  • Weight Loss: Regular sessions can help overweight dogs lose weight in a low-impact environment.

  • Increased Circulation: Warm water enhances blood flow, promoting healing and overall wellness.

  • Cardiovascular Fitness: Swimming in a controlled environment is an excellent cardio workout.

  • Improved Balance and Coordination: The water’s resistance can help improve a dog’s balance and coordination.

  • Better Flexibility: The hydrostatic pressure of water promotes flexibility of limb movement.

  • Decreased Swelling: Hydrostatic pressure helps reduce swelling in injured or inflamed areas.

  • Improved Gait: Regular sessions can improve a dog’s gait and overall mobility.

  • Increased Confidence: Dogs afraid of water can gradually build their confidence in a controlled environment.

  • Stress Reduction: Many dogs find swimming calming and enjoyable, which can reduce stress levels.

  • Increased Body Awareness: Dogs can become more aware of their body’s movement in water, which can improve land movements.

  • Pre- and Post-Surgery Rehabilitation: Hydrotherapy can help speed up recovery after surgery and prepare bodies for operations.

  • Improved Digestion: Regular exercise, including swimming, can promote healthy digestion.

  • Healthy Coat and Skin: Swimming in clean water can improve the condition of a dog’s skin and coat.

  • Supports Arthritis Management: The buoyancy and warm water can help alleviate symptoms of arthritis.

  • Relief for Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: Water therapy can help manage these common conditions in certain dog breeds.

  • Mental Stimulation: The new experience of swimming and working to move in water can provide mental stimulation.

  • Improved Quality of Life: Overall, hydrotherapy can contribute to a healthier, happier, and more active lifestyle for your dog.

Conditions suitable for Hydrotherapy

  • Arthritis: Hydrotherapy can help manage pain, increase mobility, and enhance quality of life for dogs with arthritis.

  • Hip Dysplasia: Hydrotherapy can help manage this joint condition by providing gentle, non-weight bearing exercise.

  • Elbow Dysplasia: Similar to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia can benefit from the supportive properties of water.

  • Obesity: Hydrotherapy is a low-impact form of exercise that can assist in weight management for obese dogs.

  • Post-Surgical Recovery: Hydrotherapy can aid in recovery and rehabilitation after a variety of surgical procedures.

  • Spinal Injuries: Dogs recovering from spinal injuries often benefit from the supportive environment of water.

  • Degenerative Myelopathy: This progressive disease of the spinal cord can be managed with hydrotherapy, promoting movement and quality of life.

  • Muscle Wasting: Hydrotherapy can help to build muscle mass and strength without the impact of weight-bearing exercises.

  • Cruciate Ligament Injuries: Hydrotherapy can be a useful part of rehabilitation after treatment for these common knee injuries.

  • Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD): Hydrotherapy can provide gentle, low-impact exercise to manage this joint condition.

  • Patellar Luxation: Water therapy can be beneficial for dogs with this knee condition by strengthening the surrounding muscles.

  • Neurological Disorders: Dogs with neurological conditions can benefit from the support and movement opportunities provided by hydrotherapy.

  • Chronic Pain: Dogs with chronic pain conditions can often experience relief and improved mobility through hydrotherapy.

  • Aging-Related Conditions: Hydrotherapy can support senior dogs with various age-related conditions, improving their mobility and overall wellbeing.

  • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): Hydrotherapy can help improve mobility and muscle strength in dogs suffering from IVDD.

  • Fracture Recovery: After the initial healing of a fracture, hydrotherapy can support strength building and rehabilitation.

  • Soft Tissue Injuries: Hydrotherapy can aid in the recovery and rehabilitation of soft tissue injuries, such as sprains and strains.

  • Stroke Recovery: Hydrotherapy can support the recovery process after a dog has suffered a stroke.

  • Cardiovascular Fitness: Dogs with heart conditions can benefit from the low-stress workout provided by hydrotherapy.

  • Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyelopathy (CDRM): Hydrotherapy can help manage this progressive disease of the spinal cord in dogs.

How is Hydrotherapy Sessions Conducted?

RehabVet tailors each 45-minute hydrotherapy session to your dog’s unique health needs, integrating both physical therapy and gentle massage for optimal benefits. From moderate to serious conditions, our hydrotherapy service is fully customisable. To ensure comprehensive care, we delve into your dog’s detailed medical history from both you and your vet, allowing us to better manage their condition and boost their well-being. Following each session, we document their progress, conditions, and improvements for consistent monitoring.

Our skilled hydrotherapists introduce your dog to the pool with gentle care, taking strides around the water to soothe any anxiety. Throughout the session, your pet is under our careful supervision, guided to exercise the correct body parts, and given adequate rest periods.

At RehabVet, safety is paramount. Each dog is fitted with a life jacket to ensure safety and ease of handling.

A vet treating a working or athletic dog for a sports injury
A dog receiving aquatic therapy to help with a spinal injury.

Hydrotherapy, a crucial component of canine fitness, helps to recondition weak muscles, improving strength and overall wellbeing. The frequency of treatments is dependent on the dog’s condition. Short-term treatments, such as strength rebuilding or recovery from minor surgeries, may require as few as six sessions. For dogs with chronic illnesses, hydrotherapy can become a long-term or lifelong component of their care regime.

What should I expect during a hydrotherapy session for my dog?​

IThis non-invasive therapy involves using water to help dogs recover from injuries, surgeries, and other health conditions. During a hydrotherapy session, there are a few things you should expect:

1. Warm-up exercises: Before the actual therapy begins, your dog will undergo some warm-up exercises to help them get comfortable with the water. This could include walking on a treadmill or swimming in a shallow pool.

2. Special equipment: You should expect to see some special equipment used during the session, such as harnesses, life jackets, and water treadmills. These tools are designed to help your dog move freely and safely in the water.

3. Different water depths: Depending on your dog’s condition, the therapist may vary the water’s depth. Shallow water is ideal for dogs with mobility issues, while deeper water is better for those who need more resistance.

4. Low-impact exercises: During the session, your dog will perform low-impact exercises to help them build muscle strength, improve flexibility, and increase circulation. These exercises could include swimming laps or walking on an underwater treadmill.

5. Monitoring by a therapist: Throughout the session, a trained therapist will be monitoring your dog’s progress, adjusting equipment, and providing support as needed. They will also keep track of your dog’s vital signs, such as heart rate, breathing rate, and body temperature.

Dog in under water treadmill running

Frequently Asked Questions on Hydrotherapy for Dogs

Hydrotherapy provides dogs with a low-impact form of exercise that aids in rehabilitation from injuries, alleviates pain, and promotes overall fitness. It leverages the resistance and buoyancy of water to reduce strain on joints while stimulating muscle development and cardiovascular health. It's also beneficial for weight management and can enhance the quality of life for elderly dogs or those with chronic conditions.

The frequency of hydrotherapy sessions depends on the individual dog's health condition, fitness level, and the specific goals of the treatment plan. Generally, sessions can range from once a week to several times a week. We usually recommend it twice a week. It is crucial to follow the advice of a veterinary professional or trained hydrotherapist for the best outcomes.

The duration of hydrotherapy treatment can vary greatly depending on the specific condition being treated and the dog's response to therapy. For acute conditions, a few weeks of therapy may be enough, while chronic conditions might require ongoing treatment. Each session typically lasts between 15 to 45 minutes, again depending on the dog's condition and endurance.

While hydrotherapy is generally safe and beneficial, it may not be suitable for all dogs. For instance, dogs with open wounds, infectious diseases, or certain heart and lung conditions may not be ideal candidates. Also, some dogs might initially be scared of water. It's essential to consult with a professional to assess each dog's suitability.

Yes, hydrotherapy can be incredibly beneficial for many dogs. It provides a safe environment for exercise and rehabilitation, especially for dogs recovering from surgery, suffering from arthritis, or needing weight management. However, the 'worth' can vary depending on the dog's specific needs and the quality of the hydrotherapy provision.

(1) Rehabilitation: Hydrotherapy can speed recovery post-surgery or injury by reducing recovery time and improving the quality of healing. (2) Pain Relief: The buoyancy of water relieves the weight on painful joints and muscles, providing comfort. (3) Fitness & Weight Control: Hydrotherapy is an excellent exercise for maintaining fitness and managing weight, particularly for dogs with mobility issues.

Hydrotherapy can accelerate healing by increasing blood circulation, which aids in delivering oxygen and nutrients to damaged tissues. The buoyancy and resistance offered by water can help strengthen muscles and improve joint mobility without placing undue stress on them, promoting more effective healing. Also, the warm water can have a soothing effect, reducing pain and discomfort.

Hydrotherapy is a form of water therapy. While water therapy refers to any therapeutic use of water, hydrotherapy specifically involves the use of warm water and often includes specialised equipment like underwater treadmills or jet systems to help target specific conditions or injuries.

The temperature of the water used in hydrotherapy for dogs typically ranges between 28°C to 32°C. This warm environment can help relax the muscles, alleviate pain, and enhance circulation, contributing to the therapeutic effects of the treatment.

Hydrotherapy may not be suitable for dogs with certain conditions such as infectious diseases, serious heart or lung disease, open wounds, or certain skin conditions. Always consult with a veterinary professional or a certified hydrotherapist to assess each dog's suitability.

The success rate of hydrotherapy can vary greatly depending on the specific condition being treated, the individual dog's response, and the consistency of therapy. However, many studies and anecdotal evidence suggest high levels of success, particularly for conditions like arthritis, post-operative recovery, and weight management.

Yes, hydrotherapy can be highly beneficial for older dogs. It can help manage symptoms of arthritis, improve mobility, maintain fitness levels, and provide mental stimulation. It's also a safer form of exercise for elderly dogs as the water reduces the impact on their joints.

Yes, hydrotherapy is often recommended for dogs with arthritis. The warm water and buoyancy can help relieve joint pain and inflammation, improve joint mobility, and strengthen the muscles around the joints, which can reduce the strain on arthritic joints and improve the quality of life for these dogs.

You will be contacted and the results of the assessment will be discussed with you. If emergency treatment is indicated, it will be performed by your preferred vet or we can give recommendation on vets as well for further image diagnostics.

Yes, but often times the condition affecting the animal can become worse from improper exercise routines. The underwater treadmill is a controlled exercise environment where walking speed, water temperature and water depth can all be controlled. The patient may also be given adequate rest periods if they are tired, facilitating optimal conditioning or appropriate rehabilitation from an injury. The therapist also helps to adjust therapy sessions based on how the patient is doing.

Most patients participating in aquatic therapy are already out of shape and swimming in a pool or lake requires more cardiovascular strength and endurance than is available.

Swimming in a hydrotherapy pool may be effective for some conditions, but again several factors are unable to be controlled during a free swim.

Our physical therapist trained by the biggest hydro training facilities in UK and all of them posses the Level 3 Certificate in Hydrotheraphy for Small Animals UK. Many “therapists” in Singapore who are not trained and promoting hydrotherapy rehabilitation, can cause more injuries in dogs.