Hydrotherapy for Canines

Hydrotherapy for Canines

  • Kirsten Thornhill - 17.05.2021

What is Hydrotherapy for Dogs?

Most doggos love to be swimmin’ in any and all bodies of water. Paw parents are well rehearsed with the shaky spray of H20 that is to follow after a good doggo dip in the water. Water has special healing properties, for us and our four-legged friends. Water therapy, also known as hydrotherapy, is quickly becoming popular in the animal world. If you’ve been hearing or seeing this buzz phrase around, keep reading to understand just how aquatic therapy may help your furry friend. 

What is Water Therapy for Canines?

Hydrotherapy, or water therapy, is a form of physical rehabilitation therapy that uses the water’s properties to assist dogs with recovery and exercise. The buoyancy, resistance, and viscosity of the water positively affect pain management and muscle and joint strength. With reductions in discomfort, distress, contact force and pressure, inflammation on the bones, muscles, and joints can be avoided. The temperature of the water may also affect various physiological systems within the body. 

As history has reported, water healing and therapy has been a helpful tool in the world of holistic and natural medicine. With more than numerous treatment methods for us humans, recent studies and trials have shown that it may also be beneficial for your furry pups too. Hydrotherapy, water therapy, pool therapy, aquatic therapy are just some of the various names for this wellness and natural practice. 

A licensed and certified hydrotherapist can administer hydrotherapy with your dog, using various equipment. A veterinarian may prescribe water therapy exercises for disabilities, fitness, injury recovery, or surgery rehabilitation for canines young and old. 

What are the Types of Water Therapy for Dogs?

There are several hydrotherapy practices and uses for various areas of the canine body. The type of therapy that is selected will be suited for your dog’s specific needs. In most instances, your four-legged pooch will wear a harness to keep them safely afloat, above the water, and in the correct positions while they exercise. The therapist may use toys, balls, or other mentally stimulating objects in the pool to encourage your dog’s session, with verbal cues as they move too. 

The water temperature is very important here! A good facility will have the temperature set to a comfortable warmth, so your doggo can find comfort and relaxation to their injured or sore muscles and joints during the session. Colder pool temperatures may be okay for athletic doggos.

1. Dog Pools

Dog hydrotherapy pools come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. The pool is typically small, yet roomy enough for pets and therapists. Some pools may be raised so the therapist can stand on the outside and help your doggo on the inside. Other water therapy pools may look similar to a human pool, with your therapist maybe joining your doggo for their therapy swim. A pool with a ramp may be preferred, especially if your dog is having joint or muscle concerns. 

2. Underwater Treadmills

I’m sure you’ve seen this in videos on the internet. If not, imagine a treadmill, in a glass box, filled with water. Dogs can enter the box via ramp or be lowered into the pool to walk on this treadmill. The pool is not filled to the brim, it’s filled to the appropriate level to meet your dog’s needs, of course. Once your pup is inside, the therapist will help in assisting any limbs or muscles that may need some help to correct for proper range of motion. 



3. Whirlpool Hydrotherapy

Whirlpool therapy is commonly used for pain treatment and management in dogs who have discomfort following a surgery, injury, or ailment concern. The water can help ease stress, with the se of warm jets. Talk about a dog hot tub!

In a human study, researchers suggested that just 10 minutes of whirlpool immersions may lead to increased feelings of well-being and decreased anxiety states. Since human treatments may yield similar results to our furry friends, rehabilitation protocols in the vet world are alike. We can only assume that similar responses in doggos will follow. 

What are the Benefits of Water Therapy?

Many individuals associate physical hydrotherapy with recovery and strength assistances for muscles and joints. While this is just one of the many potential benefits of water therapy, it has been suggested to help with various other physical and mental concerns. 



1. Health and Wellness

The benefits of water therapy for dogs are beyond what we can count on our fingers and toes. When analyzing water healing in us humans, we have seen that water temperature does make a difference in how the body responds to treatment. Blood pressure, cortisol levels, immune system responses, metabolic rate alterations, and more may all be altered by hydrotherapy. 

Water therapy may even be beneficial to the skin and coat by increasing body circulation. 

2. Weight Management

Weight is another important factor that can bring on or worsen joint diseases in canines. For this reason alone, hydrotherapy may be a great treatment option to help with weight loss and management, while avoiding the harsh joint pressure that chronic conditions may contribute to. 



3. Helps with Orthopedic Conditions

Osteoarthritis, bone arthritis, is a musculoskeletal disorder that is common in dogs. It has been suggested that osteoarthritis is prominent in 20% of all dogs over the age of one in the USA. The biggest concern with arthritis pain in dogs results from the rough friction between bones, due to the erosion of cushioning cartilage. This is a hereditary condition and there are certain breeds that are predisposed to osteoarthritis, including Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Rottweiler breeds.

Hip dysplasia, for instance, is also common in larger breeds of dogs, including German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Bernese Mountain dogs, and more.

For orthopedic conditions, such as those mentioned above, pool therpay may be a key player in muscle strength assistance and joint recovery. The buoyancy of the water can enable your furry friend to do more than they would be able to on land by providing them more resistance. 

4. Reduces Anxiety

Water is calming, even soothing perhaps. Dogs with anxiety may benefit from the healing properties of water, leaving the pool with reduced stress, more energy, and possibly a new excitement for life. 

For both us humans and animals, exercise releases chemicals (aka endorphins) that are responsible for these ‘yipee’ feelings. 



5. Pain Management and Treatment

Acute or chronic pain management and treatment, due to injuries or ailments, can be reduced with water therapy. The water temperature and movement can help ease your dog’s pain, without adding more stress, pressure, or strain on their already sore joints and muscles. 

6. Speeds Up Postoperative Recovery

Physical therapy in water can help reduce postoperative recovery times. With a certified therapist by your dog’s side, movements can be strengthened and manipulated correctly in the water, without added land pressure on your dog’s joints. 



Various surgeries may benefit from water therapy as part of their rehab program, including:

  • Back and neck surgeries
  • Femoral head and neck osteotomies 
  • Patella luxations
  • Tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy 
  • Cruciate ligament repairs
  • Hip replacements
  • Fracture repairs

7. Fitness and Physical Training

Water therapy is not just for dogs with injuries or health concerns. Hydrotherapy has also been used as an exercise modality for athletic dogs. This can increase their overall fitness, possibly even quicker than if these doggos train on land. This form of fitness training can benefit gentle buoyancy on joints, protecting the dog from injuries during training. Exercising in a body of water can benefit athletic dogs by improving their proprioception, cardiovascular fitness and health, and may even improve their overall balance. 

Dog Water Therapy and CBD for Dogs

If you’re interested in holistic and all-natural relaxing options for your dog, you may want to highly considered cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD. 

CBD is quickly become a popular hit in the world of holistic and natural medicine, with more and more paw parents turning to CBD options everywhere. 



Not only can CBD help support the overall wellness and health of your dog, it can help with joint support and heart health. It works by interacting with your dog’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), supporting their immune, cardiovascular, and nervous system function. 

CBD can also help with promoting relaxation and calmness in dogs, helping with discomfort or distress they may be experiencing. 

The best part about CBD? It comes in various forms, sure to fit your dog’s needs and preferences. Here, at Petly CBD, we gladly carry various CBD Oils and Pet Chews for your furry friends! This makes it easy for your dog to eat, lick, chew, and enjoy. 

Hydrotherapy for Dogs: Final Thoughts

Seeing your pupper’s health improve brings you joy, excitement, and hope! You want them to live forever, right by your side. 

Hydrotherapy is a great option to get your dog into shape and to recover faster and safer. Talk with your holistic veterinarian to see if water therapy would be a good fit for your furry friend. With professional guidance and specific types of pool therapy exercise, your doggo may be feeling more youthful and energized in no time. 


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