Our treatment programmes
All dogs whether swimming for recovery or for fun, will have a qualified hydrotherapist in the pool with them at all times to be on hand to help your dog gain confidence in the pool environment and to offer reassurance if necessary. Being in the water will allows us to connect with your dog and they quickly learn to relax and trust us aiding in the rehabilitation process. Each dog will wear a float coat or harness in the pool and water treadmill. The time spent in the water swimming depends entirely on your dogs’ inclination to swim and, depending on how your dog reacts to the pool, the therapist may spend time making your dog feel relaxed before they get in. The time in the water will be a combination of swimming and rest periods to maximize the benefits of the warm water and hydrostatic pressure acting as an anti-inflammatory, increasing recovery time. During rest periods we can provide some gentle massage to help reduce muscle tightness and release endorphins.
Rehabilitation swims (orthopaedic conditions, soft tissue injuries, neurological conditions and degenerative diseases) – a combination of swimming and rest periods to maximize the benefits of the warm water and hydrostatic pressure acting as an anti-inflammatory, increasing recovery time.
- Rehabilitation- post-surgery
- Conservative management and pre surgery conditioning
Hydrotherapy is excellent as part of the management of osteoarthritis. The warm water relaxes the muscles surrounding the joints, easing pain, and the non-weightbearing aspect means that fitness can be maintained without causing further pain and joint damage. Osteoarthritis can develop early on in life, especially where there are congenital joint conditions such as elbow or hip dysplasia, so hydrotherapy is not just for old dogs!
Management of long term/degenerative conditions Neurological conditions
Hydrotherapy is a powerful tool in the rehabilitation of neurological conditions such as intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) and degenerative myelopathy (DM). Depending on the condition and surgical procedures performed your dog can be treated in either the pool or underwater treadmill. The underwater treadmill is the perfect tool for post-surgery spinal cases as we are able to assist the dog in walking by placing their paws as they walk helping to reprogram the nervous system whilst simultaneously building muscles. This is particularly useful when a dog has a degree of paralysis and we work alongside the dog’s physiotherapist to ensure the best possible outcomes. Less severe neurological conditions can be treated in the pool where without the worry of weightbearing, the limbs can move more freely, and the gentle resistance of the warm water helps to build up muscles in a safe way.
Cruciate ligament disease is all too common in dogs, especially active large breeds. We have found hydrotherapy extremely beneficial for post-operative rehabilitation of cruciate repair and in cases where surgery is not performed, to build up the supporting muscles and reduce the risk of surgery being required. Where conservative management is needed the pool is often used as it is totally non weight bearing whereas post-surgery the underwater treadmill is an excellent tool for building muscle.
Hydrotherapy is extremely useful for the older dog, as it is non weight-bearing and will relieve stiffness, pain and the strain of old age. A full range of motion is achieved in the pool environment, allowing joints to move freely and muscles to strengthen. Additionally, the cardiovascular exercise helps to keep the heart and lungs in good condition.
Puppy swimming and water confidence
Hydrotherapy is an excellent form of exercise for young dogs, helping to build confidence in a new environment and developing swimming skills. The non-weightbearing exercise is a safe way to burn off all that excess puppy energy without the risk of damaging developing bones and joints. In addition, the mental stimulation of a new situation provides an ideal socialisation opportunity and exposes your puppy to swimming in a completely safe environment. We will swim puppies from the age of 4 months, provided that they are fully vaccinated.
Fitness sessions for pet and competition dogs
In addition to our rehabilitation programs, we also offer fun/fitness swims to dogs of all ages. Swimming is a great way to build muscle, improve cardiovascular fitness, and burn off energy. In fact, it is one of the best total body conditioning exercises a dog can take part in! Most dogs love to swim and the mental stimulation combined with a good cardiovascular workout will often lead to a quiet evening for the owner. We can also use the underwater treadmill to build sessions of increasing duration and intensity to improve cardiovascular fitness muscle mass and tone and stamina. This program is perfect for working, agility and show dogs to help them stay in peak condition.
Fitness sessions for weight management
Our fitness sessions can also be part of a weight management program. Obesity in dogs is a huge problem, with PDSA research indicating that 35% of UK dogs (2.9 million dogs) are now overweight or obese. It is estimated that being obese reduces the average lifespan of a dog by 1.8 years, and obesity greatly increases the risk of a variety of health problems including heart disease, arthritis and diabetes . Over-feeding treats and an incorrect diet are the primary cause of pet obesity (90% of dog owners admit to feeding treats such as crisps, cakes, toast and takeaways), however, changing diet alone is rarely enough to achieve substantial weight loss in dogs.
Non-weight bearing and low impact
Hydrotherapy is the perfect way to increase the exercise levels of an overweight dog, as it is non-weight bearing and will not place strain on joints, muscles or ligaments. This gives hydrotherapy a huge advantage over simply walking the dog, which may place more stress on already overloaded joints. The low impact, cardiovascular exercise will accelerate the dog’s weight loss by rapidly improving their fitness levels. Hydrotherapy uses a heated indoor pool with a ramp to make it easy for the dog to get in and out of the water. Flotation devices are used for nervous or older dogs until they are comfortable, confident and strong swimmers. We have resting stations that are used during the hydrotherapy session to allow the dog appropriate recovery periods during their treatment protocol. Our experienced hydro-therapists always take the time to make sure that the dog enjoys the experience!