Commonly asked Questions
Updated: Jul 20
My dog doesn't like water, why would I take her to Hydrotherapy?
It is a valid point and i completely understand that some dogs can find the fear of water crippling, causing excessive stress and panic. In those cases Hydro is not for your dog, perhaps land based physio or chiropractic is a better option. However a lot of owners tell me they dislike water, 'he won't go out in the rain'.....is that him not wanting to go or you? 😅 'She walks around puddles' ok so your dog isn't keen on water and would choose to avoid it, but you struggle to do much of a walk because your dog is in a lot of pain and discomfort? She can't get up the stairs anymore?
Perhaps it is worth giving Hydrotherapy a go despite this mild phobia, to alleviate pain and improve their quality of life. Believe it or not it's the dogs that love water that struggle to adjust in the Hydrotherapy environment as it is more controlled than they are used to, also the water is clean and warm....the water-loving dogs like muddy and cold! This warm, controlled space can often provide a level of comfort to dogs who may struggle with the water aspect. There is always a therapist inside the treadmill with your dog too and you are stood right next to them on the outside, we have treats and toys and lots of fuss to give your dog. Sometimes leaving the dog to their own devices and just talking about something irrelevant, like the weather, can also take away your anxiety which your dog picks up on, and we get an improvement! So all i can say here is, have some faith in your therapist and listen to their advice, give it a couple of tries and relax yourself during the appointment. If Hydrotherapy is not right for your dog, your therapist will tell you. But believe them when they say it will often get better with time.
My dog is too weak to do any proper exercise, it might be too much to start Hydro?
Some dogs, particularly the older geriatric patients, are going to find this difficult let's not beat around the bush. But if Hydrotherapy can actually help improve that situation, make your dog stronger and more mobile then its 100% worth it to improve their quality of life, surely? What is the alternative?
Elderly dogs are actually the ones who show the quickest improvements after only a couple of sessions, we often start to see an improvement in their general mood and willingness to do more, they have more energy. You tell me that he doesn't want to exercise....wrong....dogs love exercise and scenting the world around them, he doesn't want to exercise because perhaps its too painful, fearful, reluctant to jump in to the car? Or the last time you went out you made sure he walked the full block, because that's what he has always done, and he suffered for days after.....no surprise he isn't keen to exercise!
Giving them that opportunity to to be partially buoyant, relieve their tired joints of bearing weight and relax sore muscles in the warm water. They love it! The most commonly used phrase by owners of elderly dogs undergoing Hydrotherapy is 'It's like he's a puppy again'. All im saying is, don't discount it, if we take things slow and very gradually build up there's no reason why an older dog can't come to Hydrotherapy.
How many session will it take to fix my dog?
Believe it or not, i cannot work miracles....I just get really really close! The word 'Fix' suggests that we can just fiddle with some switches, replace a part and hey ho your dog is fixed! I am afraid it is not that simple, is anything in life? The time is takes for your dog to manage a condition or return to function really depends on a number of things:
For example a 6 yr old active dog that has had a cruciate repair, otherwise healthy. Surgery went well and has healed ok, you are then referred to Hydrotherapy to help strengthen back up and ensure the leg is ready to withstand the dogs normal active lifestyle (a return to function). Alongside guided increases in exercise, on lead, we will get to a stage that your therapist feels your dog is ok to tailor off their hydrotherapy and return to their normal life, or as close as possible to normal. The dog will always have a slight weakness in that knee and so this must be accounted for, perhaps less slippy flooring and fewer ball launchers will help. But otherwise the dog can be discharged and only need to return for recreational purposes, maintaining strength and to protect the other cruciate ligament from tearing. It is always advisable to continue Hydrotherapy after something like this; prevention is key.
A 7 year old dog with Hip Dysplasia and early onset arthritis. These problems are life-long, degenerative and therefore they are 'conservatively managed' with Hydrotherapy. This allows the dog to live a normal, somewhat restricted lifestyle to ensure the longevity of the joints and manage the pain. Treatment will depend on the severity of the condition and how mobile the dog is. Your dog will get to a point where he is able to manage in-between hydro sessions for perhaps up to 3 weeks before needing a maintenance session, ensuring we stay on top of the issues and pain. This is far from a 'quick-fix' that pet owners are looking for unfortunately, but it's a pretty good alternative!
Many owners that bring their dog to Hydrotherapy can clearly see the benefits it brings and are willing to continue without me even having that discussion with them. It is a testament in itself. So don't give up and work together with your vets and therapists to ensure you have a treatment schedule that works for your pet, for you and brings maximum realistic benefits, especially for those life-long degenerative conditions.
Why do I need Veterinary consent to take my dog to Hydrotherapy?
Any professional, responsible, registered Hydrotherapy centre should obtain your vets permission before seeing your dog. There are 4 good reasons for this:
1. Communication - It is vitally important your vet is aware you are intending to do Hydrotherapy but also that they deem the dog fit and well enough to start. What if I took a dog on with epilepsy but wasn't aware. The dog starts to fit and I haven't ensured the owner has medication and must to administer first aid whilst calling a vet. Believe it or not many owners fail to disclose such crucial information unless specifically asked! Hence we request medical information from your vet.
2. Safety - If i am told the dog has advanced spinal disease and is losing the use of its back legs, then i can prepare the centre and session to accommodate that dog safely. Extra non-slip rugs and additional harness aids, even extra staff on hand to help move the dog around the centre for example.
3. Law - Hydrotherapists sit under the Veterinary Surgeons (Exemptions) Order 2015 and therefore can only treat a dog if it has been 'prescribed' by a Veterinarian.
4. Because we care - we want to do what is right for your dog and provide the best possible treatment we can. This can only be done when we have a clearer picture of the reason for referral.
If you have any other questions you would like answering, be sure to comment below! Thank you for reading :)