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What is dog hydrotherapy?


Dog hydrotherapist Rebecca Atherton from Which Loal-recommended Canine Plus in Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, explains dog hydrotherapy and why it might be beneficial for your dog.

What is dog hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapist Rebecca Atherton says: 'Canine hydrotherapy is basically swimming for dogs. Using a purpose-made pool, we exercise the dogs to help them deal with a variety of problems.'

Would my dog benefit from hydrotherapy?

Rebecca’s business treats a range of complaints.

Around 50% of the dogs they treat need rehabilitation after surgery. The other half is usually dogs who are suffering from ongoing chronic conditions.

Rebecca says: 'The most common conditions we see are arthritic and cruciate ligament damage. They’re very similar to the sort of conditions that hydrotherapy would treat in humans.'

These ailments are more common in larger breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds. However, Rebecca believes hydrotherapy can be beneficial for smaller dogs too.

How can I get good hydrotherapy for my dog?

Visit your vet

Vets refer around half the dogs Canine Plus sees. The other half just come in to see what it’s all about.

Before any dog can begin this therapy, they must have permission from their vet. Without getting the go-ahead from your vet it could be dangerous for your pet, especially if they have existing complaints, such as heart problems.

Seek Canine Hydrotherapy Association-registered practicioners

Unlike vets, there is no government body that regulates the industry.

However, Rebecca says: 'Nearly all good hydrotherapists will belong to the Canine Hydrotherapy Association (CHA). They employ a code of conduct and make sure all work is up to scratch.

'If your pet insurance is paying for the hydrotherapy, they will nearly always ask you go to a CHA-registered hydrotherapist.'

Check experience and references

Rebecca is a qualified veterinary nurse with over 10 years experience in handling dogs.

She urges anyone to check the hydrotherapist’s background before employing them. Ask how they got into hydrotherapy and what their experience with dogs is.

As with any other service, you should always ask for references, too.

How long does dog hydrotherapy take?

Treatment times vary. Treating a dog with a phobia of water, for instance, might only take a few sessions. For a post-surgery or injured dog, it might be 10 to 20 sessions.

Dog hydrotherapy is usually thought of as a long-term solution for dogs with lasting conditions.

How much does dog hyrotherapy cost?

The cost of hydrotherapy can vary greatly depending on where you live.

Canine Plus charges £25 for the first 40-minute session. After that, sessions are £20 for customers without pet insurance.