The benefits of hydrotherapy for dogs.

Top Benefits of Hydrotherapy for Dogs

Dogs of all ages with various mobility issues can benefit from veterinary physical rehabilitation. Through different exercises, treatments, and massage, rehabilitation improves dogs’ flexibility, range of motion, muscle strength, balance, and endurance.

Many dogs, like a dog with IVDD or disc disease, benefit from a specific type of treatment known as hydrotherapy, which is more effective than a massage in many cases. They may regain some function after surgery by using an underwater treadmill.

The use of canine hydrotherapy isn’t new, but until recently wasn’t a treatment many vets recommended, since the facilities weren’t widespread and easily accessible. Now that more centers are open and hydrotherapists available, this type of rehabilitation is being used in vet science across the U.S.

What Is Hydrotherapy?

Canine patients with mobility issues may greatly benefit from walking in water or on an underwater treadmill. The buoyancy of the water, combined with ambulation, results in support while walking. It also minimizes weight-bearing joint stress and helps prevent tissue injuries and inflammation.

This treatment is typically done in warm water, and sometimes, with the help of an assistant. Some dogs need support with vests, slings, and harnesses.

Two Types of Hydrotherapy or Aquatic Swimming

Many dogs with mobility issues need this therapy. There are two different types, and your therapist will determine what’s appropriate during the initial consult. It may be a combination of the pool and underwater treadmill.


So many dogs love to swim… but many dogs don’t enjoy it at all. Don’t worry if your dog doesn’t love the water. The rehabilitation technician will start slow with your pup, and their therapist will create exercises fit for their level of tolerance.

Underwater Treadmill

The buoyancy of the water and the constant motion on a treadmill allow exercise with less stress on the joints, which is why so many dogs with arthritis benefit from the treatment. The warmth of the water helps increase circulation, relax muscles, and allows for greater flexibility and range of motion.

How Does Hydrotherapy for Dogs Work?

Why Is This a Treatment Option?

Hydrotherapy is part of a vet-recommended treatment plan for a long list of health issues and medical conditions. If your vet recommends this modality, it’s likely your dog suffers from a neurological issue or is recovering from surgery.

Here’s a list of common reasons dogs need hydrotherapy:

Top Benefits of Underwater Therapy

When you watch your dog, you’ll see almost immediately how much easier it is for your dog to walk in the water, even if your dog hates water when you visit the lake!

What About Overweight Dogs?

If your vet tells you that your best friend needs to lose weight, consider these three points when you start swimming with your dog:

If you don’t have access to a pool, look for hydrotherapy facilities with times where swimming without a therapist is allowed. Some pools even have a few hours towards the end of the day that allows dogs to swim with life jackets and experienced pet owners.

Can You Do This at Home?

Swimming and walking in water can also be done in a swimming pool at home. When you start with your dog in the pool, always have a life vest or float coat available. If your dog has a heart condition or hasn’t seen the vet in six months, don’t start swim therapy until your vet gives you a thumbs up.

What Does Hydrotherapy for Dogs Cost?

The approximate cost for hydrotherapy sessions ranges from $35 to $45 for an initial consultation and between $20 to $30 for a swim therapy session. For underwater treadmill therapy, you may be paying a little more for some sessions with a therapist or as high as $50 a session. Fortunately, many pet insurance plans cover rehabilitation or integrative medicine options.

The American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians is a wonderful resource when looking for hydrotherapy therapists.