12 Types of Hydrotherapy

 Discover 12 Types of Hydrotherapy for Dogs

The most suitable type of hydrotherapy and the expected regime will be determined following the initial assessment of the dog. There is a number of ways that hydrotherapy can be performed and the following are some of those:

• sink
• Bathtub
• Whirlpool
• swim–spa
• Children’s wading pool
• Beach
• Dam
• Lake
• River
• Above–ground or in–ground human swimming pools
• Dog pools
• Underwater treadmills

Hydrotherapy for dogs in a pool is a non–weight bearing exercise. In an underwater treadmill there is some weight bearing but the degree of weight is controlled by the level of water. Hydrotherapy is astounding in how much it helps our furry companions! Decreasing the canine’s pain and inflammation and increasing the dog’s sense of well-being is only the tip of the iceberg.

There are pros and cons with small dog pools, large dog pools, and essentially with every form of hydrotherapy available. It is important to educate yourself about what is best suited for you and your dog’s situation.
Smaller dog pools can be a problem with nervous or anxious dogs. Large dogs may have difficulty moving around in them, or manoeuvring to get in them. These may also require that you use a hoist instead of a ramp for entering or exiting.

Larger types of dog pools allow dogs more natural swimming movements in them. This is a good thing for more nervous dogs and for motivating them. The other advantage is that hydro-therapists and physiotherapists can be “hands on” with the dog in the pool. Usually these have ramps, resting areas or platforms, and you can use a stretcher to assist a dog into the pool if need be.

Some dog pools will have anti-swim jets which are really good for increasing sensory awareness and promoting the reflex swimming response in dogs with neurological disorders. These jets are also great for conditioning the working dogs which need a high level of fitness and strength. Swim jets can sometimes be overused and caution is required in this regard.

Dog underwater treadmills allow precise settings for active time, rest time, speed and water height. The hydro-therapist or physiotherapist can be “hands on” with the dog in the treadmill. The smallest of improvements can be seen and documented. Gaits can be assessed and retrained.

It is of a general opinion that better flexion is achieved in a pool while better extension of joints is achieved in a treadmill. Despite this, the same degree of extension can be achieved in a dog pool with “hands on”.

Dog spas or hot tubs are usually provided as an add-on service. These spa tubs are usually not big enough to accommodate larger breeds of dogs. The water temperature is usually high in these, and some have jets. These tubs are good for the dog’s relaxation and sense of well-being. They also reduce levels of pain and increase the blood flow to the peripheral areas.

Swimming in ponds, rivers or oceans has limited advantages over the disadvantages. While the dog can be free and sociable, the following are also to be considered:

• Cold temperatures causes the blood to move away from the   peripheral limbs
• Cold temperatures can lead to increased stiffness in the   dog’s osteoarthritis
• Lack of control with swimming can allow for an accident
• Risk of waterborne diseases
• Risk of drowning
• Even in summer the water can be very coldDownload the Ultimate Rehabilitation & Physiotherapy Guide for Dogs

There is a variety of ways that hydrotherapy for dogs can be achieved. The most accommodating forms are the underwater treadmill and the dog pool. Whichever way you decide to perform canine hydrotherapy, be careful to not injure the dog if it is recovering from surgery. It only takes seconds to undo a surgical procedure, and your dog needs total supervision and hands on care when rehabilitating.

About the Author

Helga Schmitt has been passionately studying and researching dog health, physiotherapy and rehabilitation hands on for the past 20 years. She is a Certified and Registered Hydrotherapist, Chartered Herbalist, Holistic Nutritionist, and holds a Certificate in Homeopathy. She strives to educate dog owners about healthy choices. You will find a wealth of information in her e-book “The Ultimate Rehabilitation & Physiotherapy Guide for Dogs.”

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2 Responses to 12 Types of Hydrotherapy

  • cathy dalton says:

    It’s nearly impossible to google for vets or groomers that have hydrotherapy. (I’m in Grapevine, TX not too far from Dallas) I have a pool, but the big step is too far down (about 8″ and she’s too big – 50 pounds – and frail and she might freak out if two of us tried to set her on the step. I’d love to find a place that had a walk in type or lift to give her some temporary relief as the pills just don’t do enough. She’s 15.

    If it is a benefit to you, you may consider asking vets to notify you if they have it and what type so people could source them though you. I know I certainly found you in my search and hoped you had a list or links.


  • helga says:

    Hi Cathy
    Have you tried lifting her into the pool? If she is not fearful of water that is an option. If she is going to panic I don’t suggest trying it. If she is okay, place one arm through the forelimbs from the front of the chest, the other arm across her butt and around to the side under belly, holding her close to your body. Make sure she has a life preserver on for better management and control in the pool, also if she is frail it is better. If you are not strong enough to lift her or confident to try this, don’t do it. The other thing I suggest is to buy a ramp that can allow her to get in the pool. There are companies that make ramps especially for boaters who have dogs and want them to be able to get in the water safely without slipping, try http://www.doggydocks.com . These ramps semi float and may take getting accustomed to but also work. another option is to get a non slip mat and place it on the step for her. Guide her in the pool and encourage her with toys if need be. Getting into a pool environment is a learning process for most dogs. Is there some way you can build the step up slightly with a non slip item? Don’t give up, having your own pool is awesome, now it is just being creative to make it safe for your dog! Good luck and I thank you for your suggestion!

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