The therapeutic use of water has been recorded in ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations and has recently become a popular choice of treatment for the rehabilitation and general health of our pets. Extensive work in human physiotherapy has demonstrated that a suitably monitored course of hydrotherapy acts by encouraging a full range of joint motion in reduced weight bearing conditions, thus improving muscle tone and promoting tissue repair, without imposing undue stress on damaged tissues.

What are the benefits?

Hydrotherapy has specific therapeutic effects on body tissues it can be used to relieve pain, swelling & stiffness, for muscle strengthening and maintenance and to increase increased range of motion in joints. It has been proven to help the cardiovascular system as well as the muscoskeletal systems by improving cardiovascular fitness (heart & lungs) and improving circulation. It can be used to improve quality and rate of healing following surgery or traumatic injury. Hydrotherapy is also becoming increasing popular in young growing dogs diagnosed with developmental conditions.

What are the specific illness that benefit from hydrotherapy?

Below is a list of just a few conditions which hydrotherapy may benefit. However, most dogs will benefit greatly from hydrotherapy as a form of exercise but it is essential to get advice from a Veterinary Surgeon before taking your animal for treatment.

Developmental Conditions

  • Hip and Elbow dysplasia – especially useful for young dogs who are restricted to lead exercise
  • Patella Luxation

Degenerative Conditions

  • Osteoarthritis (DJD) primary and secondary to developmental condition
  • Spondylosis

Pre and Post Surgical cases

  • Total Hip Replacement
  • Femoral Head and Neck Excision (FHNE)
  • Arthroscopy
  • Cranial Cruciate Rupture- TPLO/TTA/Lateral Suture

Neurological Conditions

  • Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Fibro-Cartilaginous Embolism (FCE)
  • Cervical Vertebral Malformation
  • Spinal Injury/Trauma/Shock
  • Neuromuscular Disease
  • Peripheral Neuropathies

Soft Tissue Injuries

  • Tendinitis
  • Ligament strain
  • Muscle strains/sprains


(weight loss in conjunction with diet)

How does hydrotherapy work?

Hydrotherapy is an excellent form of exercise because most of the muscles used in daily movement are involved – without the stresses caused by motion on hard ground. Hydrotherapy allows the “working out” and strengthening of the muscles while the buoyancy effect of water reduces the load on weight bearing joints which helps to reduce pain and allows easier movement. Due to the increased resistance of movement created by the water, the muscles must work harder than they would do on land. Warm water increases the circulation of blood to the muscles, increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients and flushing away waste products, leading to muscle relaxation and a reduction in pain and stiffness. Improved circulation reduces swelling around an injured area and enhances healing.

 Where offers hydrotherapy?

There are a few facilities locally that offer hydrotherapy as a service.

The first is North Wales Canine Hydrotherapy who are based in Abergele, they are a family run business who have been offering the service for approximately 13 years. A specialist indoor warm water pool where dogs can swim at waist level for ease of handling and comfort and an easy access ramp, buoyancy aids and electric hoist to allow entry for incapacitated dogs are just a few of the benefits they have. Follow http://www.swimyourdog.co.uk/ for more information.


Chester Gates Veterinary Specialists near Chester who have a purpose-built hydrotherapy suite which includes both pool and water treadmill. With both hydrotherapies available your dog will have the best opportunity to improve fitness and strength depending on their needs, which will be decided with your physiotherapist and veterinarian on site. For more information on their facilities please follow http://www.chestergates.org.uk/services.aspx?service=1334&clientId=10101.