Hydrotherapy is already widely recognised as a form of therapy for a range of human medical conditions but it’s now available locally for dogs too. H2O Canine Therapy at Willowbrook Garden Centre has been operating for less that a year but has already attracted an ardent following from dog owners – and their pets too.
Owner Amy Loveless is a qualified small animal therapist. As the owner of an arthritic dog and with experience in dog grooming and exercise, she became interested in this form of treatment when it was recommended by her vet. She trained as a hydrotherapist at the Greyfriars Rehabilitation Centre in 2011 and then, with her husband, decided to set up a practice of her own.
The H2O Centre is equipped with a 6 metre by 3 metre pool – one of the largest in the south west – heated to 30 degrees with built-in jets, an underwater camera, a ramp to provide dogs with easy access to the pool and a range of toys which not only encourage exercise therapy but make it fun too. Dogs are always accompanied in the water and encouraged in a variety of ways to strengthen muscles and restore flexibility. The camera monitors their movement and progress and can be used as a lasting record for their owners.
Dogs with a range of conditions from arthritis to hip dysplasia can benefit from hydrotherapy, as do those recovering from injuries and surgery. As a non-impact, non weight-bearing form of exercise, it encourages limb movement, helps circulation and aids recovery. It can be used to teach dogs who lack confidence in the water to swim. It is endorsed by vets as a proven form of treatment. Overweight dogs can also benefit from the exercise.
Dog owner Terrie Love takes her 10 month old labrador Fred for 30 minute sessions at the centre. “He suffers from hip dysplasia which means he wobbles when he walks. My vet advised me to try this treatment as it will make his hips stronger. He loves it and it definitely works. He’s really tired after a session too.”
H2O centre owner Amy Loveless says that business has been “absolutely fantastic since I opened last year. I have my own website and advertise at dog shows but word-of-mouth recommends by vets and satisfied customers have helped us to get well-established.”
For dogs not quite up to a long walk over the Blackdowns, this is a valuable alternative, and available close to town too. www.h2ocaninetherapy.co.uk/