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Canine hydrotherapy: where are we now?
  1. Barbara Houlding, MScVetPhys, MCSP, FIRVAP
  1. K9 Hydro Services, Unit 21, The Business Centre, Earl Soham, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP13 7SA
  1. e-mail: enquiries{at}

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Barbara Houlding reflects on the growth of canine hydrotherapy in the UK, as highlighted by a study summarised on p 407 of this issue

CANINE hydrotherapy is a common terminology used to describe water-based veterinary physiotherapy (WBVP) for small animals. Historically, this therapy has evolved from human aquatic therapies used by physiotherapists to treat a variety of medical conditions and sports injuries, for orthopaedic and neurological problems and to address health issues such as obesity.

WBVP is concerned with identifying and maximising each patient's functional and movement potential in relation to: health promotion and prevention, effective treatment and rehabilitation following injury and/or surgery, as well as performance enhancement in the athletic dog. The purpose of this therapeutic intervention is to optimise healing and facilitate the restoration of land-based function and movement. Clinical outcomes are complex and will be affected by the dog's signalment, the severity of the condition or health problem, appropriate timing of the referral and the skill of the veterinary physiotherapist or hydrotherapist delivering the water-based programme.

Professionals such as veterinary physiotherapists use a range of techniques that include manual and movement therapies administered in a wet room using warm water in conjunction with specialist equipment. …

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