Hydrotherapy is a water based therapy that is a great way to improve mobility and provide relief from pain and stiffness. Both the aquatic treadmill and pool use heated water to allow the limbs to move freely in order to avoid further injury and cramping from weak and tight muscles that have been underused due to injury or conditions which affect the way your pet is able to move around land based.

Hydrotherapy is a very gentle form of therapy which is surprisingly effective when used in the correct way by a qualified and experienced hydrotherapist.

A hydrotherapy session at Synergy Small Animal Rehabilitation involves a physical assessment, looking at how the dog moves, as well as a general health exam, assessing their pulse rate, breathing rate, and the colour of their mucous membranes (gums). Once this has been completed, your animal will be put into a harness or buoyancy jacket depending on whether they are going in the treadmill or pool, and what level of fitness they have. During the session your animal will have stints of working in the water with rest breaks interspersed between them, this is the most effective way to achieve improvements with this type of therapy.


Treadmill or pool?

Water therapy in general is a very good way to re-introduce exercise into your pet’s life again when wanting to improve mobility and quality of life when day to day activities become just too uncomfortable or when recovering from injury. The decision about which method is used for a particular case is usually made by our qualified physiotherapist or hydrotherapist. However, there are many reasons why we may recommend one over the other.



  • The use of a hydrotherapy pool is ideal for dogs and cats which may have conditions which affect their ability to move freely and comfortably. It is a non-weight exercise which is aided by the use of flotation jackets to aid support and buoyancy. Arthritis is one that many people associate with old age but sadly it can affect animals of all ages. The knock-on effects of arthritic type conditions are that muscles start to weaken and become tight not only around affected areas of the body but in general as daily exercise is reduced in an attempt to keep your pet comfortable.

  • By allowing your pets to swim in a heated pool with an experienced therapist they can enjoy physical exercise within a controlled environment without causing further injury or pain.

  • It is important to have a devised exercise plan from the start which your therapist will assess and compile on an individual basis. Not only does it allow limbs and muscles to stretch, extend and strengthen but the use of the pool is a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness too, something we don’t always think about when exercise is reduced.

  • The pool is a fantastic way to remain and improve general fitness for dogs who lead active lives whether that be in life in general or because they are working dogs in the field or agility world. Working dogs are just as prone to injury as pet dogs and need to keep a good level of fitness. The use of a hydrotherapy pool is an excellent way to remain in shape.

Our pool:

  • Our pool is 6 metres by 3 metres internally, which makes it quite large as canine hydrotherapy pools go. Whilst this can be used for a lot of our rehab patients, this size makes it ideal for fitness sessions and large dogs that take much bigger strokes in the pool.

  • There are jets to provide additional resistance to those dogs that are swimming for fitness or at a later stage of their rehab and need an additional challenge.

  • We have both internal and external ramps to help make getting in and out of the pool as easy as possible for all our patients.

  • Just like human swimming pools, our pool will be kept at a warm temperature to help keep our patients supple whilst they’re swimming.



  • There are many reasons why you would want to use the treadmill. It is a weight bearing form of hydrotherapy and accurately simulates walking on land. However, the use of water within the treadmill provides buoyancy and support just like the pool allowing the limbs to move with less force going through them. This is a crucial component when recovering from surgeries or unstable injuries.

  • Just like the pool the water is heated. The water level within the treadmill can be adjusted to suit the condition and capabilities of your pet at any one time. The speed of the treadmill belt can also be adjusted based on the size of your animal, the way they move, and the condition being treated. A much slower speed allows for fuller weight bearing, extension and flexion going through each limb in a deliberately controlled manner. This is important particularly in early stages of recovery. Speed can then be increased in conjunction with the adjustment of water levels as they progress through their recovery period. Each patient has an individual plan to suit their condition and expected long term outcome.

  • As with the pool, the treadmill is also a great way to improve and maintain the high fitness levels of the working dog. Muscle tone and strength is vital when it comes to working or competing. All of these elements can be maintained and improved upon with the skills of an experienced therapist working together with you and your dog.

Our treadmill:

  • Our treadmill has 360 degree viewing potential to allow for thorough evaluation of the way a patient is moving.

  • An extended belt allows for more space for larger breeds and canine athletes that may have longer strides.

  • The belt direction is reversible and we have the option of inclining the belt, this gives us so much more variability to allow for even more specific rehabilitation and conditioning plans for our patients.

  • Touch screen controls mounted on the chamber, allow our therapist to be in the treadmill with the patient and still have complete control of the session.

To find out more about what conditions hydrotherapy can help to treat, visit the services page: