What is hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy utilises the properties of water. To ensure safety and appropriate treatment, hydrotherapy should be carried out by appropriately qualified and trained hydrotherapist’s to improve an animal’s function in a purpose built, and suitably heated hydrotherapy pool. All dogs require veterinary consent prior to their first swim, this form can be downloaded from this page (see link above)
Benefits of hydrotherapy
The benefits of hydrotherapy depend very much on how the hydrotherapy treatment is carried out. For some dogs simply floating or swimming gently in water can relieve pain and inflammation. For others more vigorous exercise is used to increase the use of limbs, increase muscle bulk and tone, and strengthen the support for joints. Especially after surgery or injury hydrotherapy can allow earlier return to normal use.
Water can also be used as a means of supporting dogs in a non weight bearing or partially weight bearing environment to allow movements that would not be possible on land, perhaps because of weakness or injury. This is particularly useful for dogs that have spinal problems
Hydrotherapy can also increase cardiovascular fitness and help with weight loss.
Benefits of hydrotherapy can include:
- Decreased pain perception
- Decreased pain and inflammation
- Possible feeling of well being due to release of endorphins
- Relaxation of muscle tension and/or muscle spasm
- Reduction of swelling
- Increased range of movement in water helping to ease stiff and arthritic joints
- Non weight bearing – it is easier and more comfortable to move in water so animals often gain confidence
- Non weight bearing – less joint concussion avoiding further damage after injury or for dogs with some form of dysplasia
- Support for weakened or spinal injury dogs
- Reduction of frustration for dogs on cage rest or reduced exercise – less likely to be ‘uncontrollable’ on land
- Increased muscle strength
- Improved muscle patterning and recruitment helping to improve gait patterns (reduction in lameness)
- Improved cardiovascular fitness
- Potentially earlier return to normal activities – very important for owners of Assistance, Working Dogs or sports dogs
- Slowing of progression of some symptoms of degenerative diseases
- Improved quality of life
Conditions treated with hydrotherapy
In general conditions treated with hydrotherapy fall into the following categories:
- Soft tissue injuries
- Degenerative and medical conditions
- Conditions related to age – either juvenile/developmental or geriatric
These conditions can include:
- Hip dysplasia
- Cruciate ligament rupture – either conservative management or post operative recovery
- Patella luxation
- Elbow dysplasia
- Degenerative myelopathy (formerly known as CDRM)
- Spinal injuries including recovery from fractures and IV disc rupture (commonly known as a slipped disc)
- Spondylosis – spinal arthritis
- Mobility problems related to age
- Obesity control
Why use a Registered Canine Hydrotherapist?
It is important that any client has confidence in the therapist treating their dog. By choosing to use a Registered Canine Hydrotherapist (RCH) you can be assured that the hydrotherapist looking after your dog or cat is trained in hydrotherapy and is required to abide by a code of practice and ethics by their professional association.
Every RCH is listed on the NARCH website enabling you to check that their registration is valid as well as providing details on the type and level of training completed and areas of competence or expertise.
A listed RCH has fulfilled the NARCH training requirements for registration (which are the highest in the UK) and must keep up to date by completing a further 20 hours of Continued Professional Development training each year. Registration with NARCH is not an easy option for a canine hydrotherapist.
RCHs are required to abide by the guidelines and rules set out in the Guide to Professional Conduct for Registered Canine Hydrotherapists and must hold public liability and professional indemnity insurance.
Gail Baker – NARCH Registered Hydrotherapist, ABC Level 3 Qualified in small animal hydrotherapy
Ellie Casson – ABC Level 3 qualified in small animal Hydrotherapy
Megan Rose-Routledge – First Aid Qualified. In training and working at Hydropaws for over 12 months.