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At Hamilton Specialist Referrals, hydrotherapy is only ever carried out by our qualified hydrotherapists and takes place on our aquatic treadmill. It often uses toys to motivate and stimulate, and alternating treadmill speeds and water heights to provide extra resistance or buoyancy. Prior to treatment each animal has a warm shower and is fitted with a safety harness. After treatment, animals have another warm shower and are dried off.

Hydrotherapy is an excellent form of exercise because most of the muscles normally used in movement are involved, but without the stresses caused by motion on hard ground. On land, each footfall creates a shock wave that travels up the limb and is absorbed by bones, tendons, ligaments and joints. While these stresses are necessary to maintain healthy strong bone, if they are severe or overly repetitive, they can damage structures or weaken the limb. Because it’s a form of exercise in reduced-weight conditions, it can enhance recovery following injury or surgery. It can also be helpful in the management of arthritic joints and obesity.

Hydrotherapy in warm water helps to improve:


  • Range of movement around painful joints
  • Muscular strength and tone
  • Limb proprioception and coordination
  • Balance
  • General fitness and cardiovascular stamina

Conditions that can be treated using hydrotherapy

  • Relief of pain, swelling and stiffness
  • Cruciate Ligament injuries and post-operative recovery
  • Hip dysplasia – especially useful for young dogs who are restricted to lead exercise
  • Elbow dysplasia – especially useful for young dogs who are restricted to lead exercise
  • Arthritis – reduced pain and increased mobility
  • Spinal injuries
  • CDRM – chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy
  • Cardiovascular fitness (heart and lungs)
  • Recovering from injuries – soft tissue and neurological damage
  • Obesity (weight loss in conjunction with diet)
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Pre- and post-operative conditioning by muscle strengthening maintenance and restoration
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