Hydrotherapy For Dogs: What Is It And What Are The Benefits?

Dog Hydrotherapy

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Hydrotherapy, or water cure, for dogs is a form of occupational or physiotherapy that uses water resistance to rehabilitate injuries and relieve pain.

From Greek roots, the word hydrotherapy means “water healing.” But does this type of therapy have benefits for dogs?

In fact, there are many benefits of hydrotherapy for dogs and so much to understand. Here are a few of the basics you should know if you’re considering this treatment option for your pup.

What Is Hydrotherapy For Dogs?

Hydrotherapy uses water to help rehabilitate injuries your dog might have and to also relieve pain. It’s especially beneficial for dogs who have conditions such as a torn ACL, hip dysplasia, degenerative joint disease, arthritis, or dogs who have been paralyzed or lost a limb.

Hydrotherapy uses buoyancy, resistance, viscosity, and hydrostatic pressure to help a dog move the injured joints they are trying to rehabilitate. This type of therapy works because, essentially, you provide weightless physical therapy and remove the added pressure of gravity.

Your dog’s buoyancy in water reduces the stress on their joints as they try to recover from their condition. This type of therapy is also a natural anti-inflammatory due to its ability to reduce swelling in body tissues.

Types Of Hydrotherapy For Dogs

Physical therapy in dogs

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There are three primary types of hydrotherapy for dogs, all using different types of equipment and serving specific purposes. Consult with your dog’s vet to see which best suits your pup’s rehabilitation needs.

Underwater Treadmill

This type of hydrotherapy is the most common form for dogs and is best suited for those with joint issues and arthritis. It relies on a treadmill encased in a glass or plastic chamber. Once the dog enters the chamber, the door is shut, and water fills the chamber to the level just above the dog’s legs.

As the treadmill starts to move slowly, your dog will begin to move. The water provides resistance enough to strengthen their joint muscles but takes away the stress of gravity, which makes this a low-impact exercise.

Whirlpool Therapy

This type of therapy is used for dogs who are recovering from major surgeries and is great for pain relief. Think of this method as a Jacuzzi, but for dogs.

A dog would be put on a harness and lowered slowly into the pool. The water level depends on where the injury is located on your pup.

Once the dog enters the water, the warm jet stream inside the whirlpool effectively massages your dog’s injured muscles. The water jets create a deep effect on the injured joints, which gives the needed relief to your pooch.

Dog Pools

This type of hydrotherapy provides resistance enough to help the range of motion for a dog who might suffer from arthritis or degenerative joint issues. It mainly targets certain parts of the dog’s body, such as their elbows, chest muscles, limbs, and shoulders.

The size and depth of the pool will largely depend on the therapist or vet and what type of joint issues your dog needs to work on. Most of the time, your dog will wear a floater or might be on a harness if they are not too fond of water.

They would also have the assistance of a therapist by their side at all times to monitor their movements in the water.

What Are The Benefits Of Hydrotherapy For Dogs?

Senior Golden Retriever Hydrotherapy Exercise

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Besides the benefits of relieving pain and rehabilitating joints, there are other added benefits of hydrotherapy for dogs, like the following:

  • Relief of pain, swelling, and stiffness
  • Muscle strengthening
  • Alleviation of muscle spasms
  • Increased range of motion
  • Promote blood circulation
  • Tissue healing
  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Gait modification
  • Faster recovery from injuries

What Else Do I Need To Know About Hydrotherapy For Dogs?

Hydrotherapy for your pup is safe, beneficial, and reliable. But it’s important to note that this type of therapy must be handled by professionals and dog therapists who have adequate experience and training in handling dog injuries and pain relief treatments.

Also, specialized equipment is used for hydrotherapy which targets specific areas of your dog’s medical issues.

The cost of hydrotherapy also varies depending on what type of injury or pain your dog has sustained, how long they need therapy for, the type of therapy needed, and if there is availability in your area. In general, the average cost of a 30-minute therapy session might be between $40 and $60.

Always consult with your dog’s vet to figure out the best course of action when considering this type of treatment.

What do you think of hydrotherapy for dogs? Would you consider it if your pup had an injury or painful condition? Let us know in the comments below!

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