Majesty Dog

Canine Hydrotherapy: Improving Recovery and Mobility for Man’s Best Friend

Introduction to Canine Hydrotherapy

Dogs are our loyal companions and valuable members of our families, so we naturally want to provide them with the best possible care. When our furry friends are injured or suffer from conditions that limit their mobility, hydrotherapy is a safe and effective way to help them recover.

Hydrotherapy, a type of physical therapy that uses water as a therapeutic tool, can provide numerous benefits to dogs. In this article, we will explore what canine hydrotherapy is, its benefits, as well as the importance of veterinary referral and the dangers of attempting hydrotherapy at home.

What is Canine Hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapy, also known as aquatic therapy, involves using water to promote healing in dogs.

The therapy is performed by a certified hydrotherapist who has specialized knowledge and training in canine hydrotherapy. It can involve swimming or walking in controlled water environments like pools, underwater treadmills or resistance pools.

The water’s buoyancy reduces the weight of the dog’s body, decreasing the stress on their joints and muscles during the initial phases of rehabilitation.

Hydrotherapy can be useful in treating various conditions.

It can aid in recovery from injury, surgery or chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis. Hydrotherapy can also be used as a preoperative exercise to improve a pet’s physical condition before undergoing surgery.

Benefits of Canine Hydrotherapy

Canine hydrotherapy has become increasingly popular in veterinary medicine due to the numerous benefits it provides. One of the key benefits of aquatic therapy is injury recovery.

For dogs, hydrotherapy can assist with post-operative healing and rehabilitation, enabling them to recover more quickly and with fewer complications. With the resistance that water provides, dogs can rebuild their strength and muscle mass that may have been lost due to injury or immobilization.

Canine hydrotherapy is also beneficial for overweight and obese dogs. Hydrotherapy can help dogs burn calories while reducing the force put on their joints.

For overweight dogs, shifting the exercise routine to hydrotherapy can encourage them to be active without putting unnecessary strain on their joints.

In addition, hydrotherapy can improve a dog’s overall mobility.

As mentioned earlier, hydrotherapy can help to improve muscle tone and mass. This can increase a dog’s range of motion, allowing them to move with less pain and stiffness.

For dogs that suffer from conditions like hip dysplasia, arthritis or spinal problems, hydrotherapy can provide relief, reducing pain and stiffness as well.

Importance of Veterinary Referral and Caution Against Attempting Hydrotherapy at Home

Although hydrotherapy can offer various benefits for dogs, it is important to remember that this is a specialized therapy that should be conducted by a professional. A veterinary referral is necessary before beginning hydrotherapy.

Before scheduling any appointments, owners should notify their veterinarian of their dog’s condition and inquire whether hydrotherapy is recommended.

Attempts to perform dog hydrotherapy at home can be dangerous and can cause severe injury to the dog.

Most treatments for canine hydrotherapy are provided in specialized veterinary clinics or hydrotherapy centers. These centers use purpose-built water therapy equipment and provide the owner with a comforting environment and experienced staff that are trained to monitor the animals’ progress attentively.


Canine hydrotherapy has numerous benefits that can help dogs recover from injuries, reduce weight, and improve mobility. However, this therapy should only be conducted by trained and certified professionals, and veterinary referral should always be obtained.

With the current advances in veterinary medicine, hydrotherapy will continue to grow in popularity and recognition as a safe and effective option for canine rehabilitation.

Conditions Treated by Canine Hydrotherapy

Canine hydrotherapy can help treat various conditions in dogs. The therapy works by providing low-impact exercise and muscular development which can enhance the healing process.

Here are some conditions which canine hydrotherapy can be beneficial for:

Muscular and Neurological Conditions

Hydrotherapy can help dogs who suffer from various muscular and neurological conditions by allowing them to exercise without putting stress on their bodies. Dogs with spinal cord injuries, for example, can benefit from hydrotherapy by slowly and gradually improving mobility without over-taxing the body.

The buoyancy of the water can help strengthen the muscles responsible for movement while providing a low impact environment to exercise.

Arthritis and Orthopedic Problems

Canine hydrotherapy can help dogs with arthritis or orthopedic problems by reducing pain, inflammation and increasing mobility. The warm water used during hydrotherapy, combined with the gentle exercise, can relieve stiffness, swelling, and pain in the joints.

This therapy’s low-impact nature is also beneficial for dogs who may be experiencing bone, joint or ligament problems, allowing them to rebuild strength gradually without over-taxing the affected areas.

Neurologic Issues

Hydrotherapy can help dogs with neurologic issues to increase their muscle strength and flexibility. For dogs with conditions such as intervertebral disk disease (IVDD), hydrotherapy can be a beneficial therapy.

During hydrotherapy, the buoyancy of the water takes the pressure off the discs between the vertebrae, reducing the chance of further injury from compression of the discs.

Use in Conjunction with Other Treatments

Canine hydrotherapy is often used in conjunction with other treatments such as pain medication and joint supplements. Hydrotherapy works to reduce pain and stiffness in the muscles and joints, making it the ideal partner for pain medication.

Joint supplements can help to rebuild tendon and ligament strength, which fits perfectly with hydrotherapy’s goals of gradual strengthening and muscle-building.

How Canine Hydrotherapy Works

Hydrotherapy works by using water to promote healing in dogs. The buoyancy provided by the water supports the dog’s weight, allowing them to move without causing too much stress on their bones or muscles.

Additionally, the water provides resistance to the dog’s movements, encouraging them to work their muscles harder. This resistance can help to build strength and endurance, which subsequently reduces recovery time.

Water’s Buoyancy and Added Resistance

The low-impact environment that the water creates during hydrotherapy is because the water supports the dog’s weight. This buoyancy allows a dog to move with greater ease and less strain on their muscles and joints.

The buoyancy of the water also reduces the gravitational forces acting on the animal’s body when it moves, reducing pressure on the joints and providing relief for dogs suffering from pain.

The resistance that the water provides can help to improve the strength and endurance of the dog’s muscles.

The resistance is created by the viscosity of the water, so the faster a dog moves, the more resistance they face. This resistance forces muscles to work harder, which can lead to stronger and more agile muscles.

Warm Water Promoting Relaxation and Reducing Muscle Spasms

The warm water used in hydrotherapy has several benefits. It promotes relaxation and reduces muscle spasms.

The warmth of the water also helps to increase blood flow to the muscles and joints, which can help to improve circulation and reduce inflammation.

The relaxation that hydrotherapy provides can also help to reduce pain and tension in the muscles, making it easier for the dog to move.

Additionally, the warmth of the water can help to reduce muscle spasms that often arise from injury or discomfort. Overall, by reducing muscle tension, hydrotherapy allows the dog to move more freely, reducing the chance of further injury during recovery.



Canine hydrotherapy is a low-impact therapy that can help dogs recover from various illnesses, injuries or chronic conditions. Hydrotherapy can help to reduce pain, inflammation, and stiffness and can improve muscle strength and endurance.

When used in conjunction with other treatments such as pain medication and joint supplements, hydrotherapy can significantly improve the dog’s healing time. Hydrotherapy works by using the water’s buoyancy to support the dog’s weight, reducing the stress on their muscles and joints, and providing resistance to their movements.

The warmth of the water used during hydrotherapy can help to reduce muscle spasms and promote relaxation.

Types of Canine Hydrotherapy

Canine hydrotherapy is rapidly gaining popularity in veterinary medicine. Two main types of hydrotherapy include underwater treadmill therapy and pool-based therapy.

Each of these therapies has its benefits and unique features that make them suitable for varying conditions.

Underwater Treadmill Therapy

Underwater treadmill therapy involves a dog walking on an underwater treadmill in a water-filled tank. The treadmill’s speed can be adjusted to modify the level of difficulty in their therapy.

This therapy is ideal for dogs with joint issues, recovering from surgery, or those who need to build up their endurance and coordination. Some common conditions that the underwater treadmill can help with include arthritis, hip or elbow dysplasia, spinal cord injuries, ligament damage, and more.

One benefit of underwater treadmill therapy is that the adjustable settings allow for customized therapy tailored to the dog’s unique needs. These customized settings allow for the therapist to improve the dog’s range of motion, endurance, and coordination.

Pool-Based Therapy

Pool-based therapy involves an underwater pool where the dog can swim or walk in a water-filled environment. This therapy is ideal for dogs with weight-bearing or multi-joint arthritis issues.

Swimming is excellent for exercising the whole body, and moving around in the water’s buoyancy means that the dog’s muscles are getting a good workout without too much pressure on the joints. Swimming also helps to restore muscle mass, which is especially beneficial for dogs who might be recovering from surgery or who are suffering from conditions like atrophy, which involves wasting away of the muscles due to inactivity.

Pool-based therapies are effective in alleviating arthritis symptoms because the water’s buoyancy creates reduced pressure on the joints and allows the dog to move with less pain and more comfort.

Precautions and

Contraindications of Canine Hydrotherapy

Before starting any hydrotherapy sessions with your dog, it is essential to consider some factors that may pose a risk to your dog’s recovery.

Wait Time After Surgery

It is crucial to follow the veterinarian’s advice on when to begin hydrotherapy sessions after surgery. Several weeks need to be given after surgery for the body to heal, and close supervision is required to ensure the following of appropriate progressions during rehabilitation.

Beginning therapy too soon after surgery can cause setbacks in the post-surgical recovery process.

Close Supervision During Therapy

Close supervision of the dog during therapy is also necessary for the safety of the dog. A certified hydrotherapist ensures that the rehabilitation process proceeds accordingly, and all precautions are taken as required.

By monitoring progress, the therapist can modify the pace, progression, and intensity of the therapy to ensure that the dog is not pushed beyond their limits and also avoids injuries.

Difficulty with Hydrotherapy for Brachycephalic Breeds

Brachycephalic breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs, have difficulty breathing and may find it challenging to tolerate long sessions of hydrotherapy. They also have a higher chance of experiencing heat exhaustion as they have a reduced capacity to control their body temperatures.

It is best to consider this before deciding to go for hydrotherapy sessions.


Some conditions contraindicate hydrotherapy due to the added stress it puts on the animal. Unstable spines, joint and ligament injuries, or cardiovascular problems require careful consideration before implementing hydrotherapy.

These cases require immediate and specialist care from a veterinarian. The therapeutic plan may include options such as medication, surgery, or other veterinary pain management techniques.


Canine hydrotherapy is an increasingly popular method for improving the quality of life for dogs suffering from a wide variety of physical issues. The two most common types of canine hydrotherapy include underwater treadmill therapy and pool-based therapy, each tailored to meet different needs.

Before beginning hydrotherapy with a dog, there are precautions and contraindications to consider, such as wait time after surgery, close supervision, and checking the animal’s overall health. These issues are important to ensure that the rehabilitation process to be safe and successful.

By careful consideration of these factors, hydrotherapy can be a useful tool in helping dogs live a more comfortable and healthy life. Canine hydrotherapy is a safe and effective way to help dogs recover from various physical issues, including injuries, chronic conditions, and arthritis.

Underwater treadmill and pool-based therapies offer customized and low-impact alternatives to traditional exercise. However, it is essential to consider precautions, such as waiting time after surgery, close supervision, or contraindications, such as unstable spines or joint and ligament injuries.

Canine hydrotherapy is a valuable addition to the various therapies available to treat dogs and can significantly improve the quality of life for our furry friends.

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