It's more than just a dip in a cool pool.
Black Lab swimming in pool
Credit: Toshiro Shimada / Getty Images

It's important to you that your pets lead healthier, happier lives. Whether you want veterinary advice, behavioral insight, or the best-in-market pet essentials that make every day more joyful, for both you and your cat or dog, The Well-Balanced Pet offers practical tips you can use.

The word hydrotherapy originated in Ancient Greece and translates as "water healing." Water has been long-touted as a relaxing, safe, and effective environment to exercise in, to increase relaxation, reduce pain, and rehabilitate injuries. The reason? Water's natural buoyancy combined with its resistance and hydrostatic pressure provides a weightless environment for low-impact exercising—basically water removes the pressure from gravity that can contribute to muscle strain and joint stiffness. This makes hydrotherapy a smart option for dogs needing rehabilitation and exercise.

What is hydrotherapy for dogs?

Three types of hydrotherapy for dogs exist, all using different equipment and offering different purposes, but individual facilities offer different services. One common option is the underwater treadmill, which is essential a chamber your dog enters that is filled with warm water (this increases flexibility and enhance circulation) and as your dog begins to walk the underwater treadmill begins to slowly move. The speed and water level are then adjusted. This is an excellent option for dogs battling arthritis or joint issues.

Another option great for dogs recovering from a major surgery is whirlpool therapy. Think of it as a giant Jacuzzi for dogs (in a harness, of course) where the injured area or muscle is gently massaged by warm water jets for a deep effect. Lastly, there is the dog pool, perfect for increasing range of motion for dogs affected by arthritis or degenerative joint issues. The depth and size of the pool may vary and your dog might wear a harness or floater and have a therapist working in the water with them to monitor movements. As with any form of treatment, consult with your veterinarian to see which is appropriate for your furry friend's needs.

Could my dog could from hydrotherapy?

Dogs benefiting from this type of therapy are recovering from surgery, illness, are afflicted with arthritis, hip dysplasia, degenerative joint diseases, are those with injuries such as a torn ACL or dogs who have been paralyzed or lost a limb.

Can I join my dog in a treatment session?

If your dog has trust issues and doesn't feel comfortable being in the water with just the therapist, ask if you can join—assuming the tank can hold all of you.

What are the benefits of hydrotherapy?

The positive outcomes resulting from hydrotherapy include: Relief of pain, swelling, and stiffness, weight loss, neuromuscular re-education, muscle strengthening, increased cardiovascular stamina, and increased range of motion.


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