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Hydrotherapy is the use of water to aid the rehabilitation process

The Bath Canine Hydrotherapy Centre uses an underwater treadmill as a vital part of particular treatment programmes. It provides partial weight bearing exercise which allows a more comfortable environment for treatment, as it reduces the stress on damaged tissues and joints.

It is a very effective way of facilitating a more normal walking pattern following an operation or lameness. It also performs assisted walking within water following a neurological or spinal problem that may have left the dog with reduced or loss of use of one or more limb. The treatment programme can be graded and easily measured since water levels and speed can be adjusted accordingly.

Muscle wastage (atrophy) will begin within a few days following an injury or period of immobilisation and it is very important to rebuild this muscle bulk as soon as possible. Sometimes, it is not appropriate or possible to begin on-land Physiotherapy and as such, Hydrotherapy can be used as a vital stepping stone to enhance the recovery and start the rehabilitation process sooner.

The properties of water mean that the water-based environment enables effective treatment and rehabilitation. For example; the buoyancy of water reduces the load through joints; the resistance of water increases strength as muscles have to work harder; the hydrostatic pressure of water reduces swelling and oedematous tissues; the therapeutic temperature (~27°C) increases circulation and therefore will improve healing times.

Why is Hydrotherapy beneficial?

  • Aids pre and post-operative conditioning
  • Increases range of movement of joints
  • Decreases pain during exercise
  • Decreases stress on healing tissues
  • Aids muscle strengthening, maintenance and restoration
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness
  • Reduces muscle spasm and tone
  • Increases speed of recovery
  • Aids weight reduction
  • Aids relaxation
  • Improves circulation
  • Decreases swelling and joint effusion
  • Increases stability to unstable joints
  • Improves psychological well-being/enjoyment for the animal
  • Helps transition to land based exercises

Conditions that may benefit from treatment

  • Post-operative recovery (e.g. after fractures, cruciate ligament repair, patella fixation, spinal surgery)
  • Overweight dogs needing to reduce weight and increase fitness
  • Recovery from soft tissue injuries (e.g. bicipital tendonitis, Achilles tendon problems, ligament sprains)
  • Neurological problems (e.g. peripheral nerve damage, spinal problems, reduced or loss of function of 1 or more limb)
  • Vascular events (e.g. FCE, TIA)
  • Recovery from multiple injuries
  • Lameness
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Dogs who are on restricted lead exercise
  • Orthopaedic conditions (e.g. hip and elbow dysplasia, OCD)
  • Maintenance of fitness levels (e.g. in the working, athletic, or elderly dog)