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Hydrotherapy and Osteoarthritis Fact Sheet

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Our Therapy and Fitness Centre team explain how hydrotherapy can help with the treatment of Osteoarthritis.

What is osteoarthritis?

Cartilage surrounds the joints within the body and acts as a shock absorber to prevent damage. When the cartilage becomes damaged the protective layer is lost, which results in abnormal wear and tear of the joints and causes inflammation. Osteoarthritis most commonly occurs secondary to another condition or injury. Although factors such as genetics and obesity can predispose an animal to osteoarthritis.

What are the benefits of hydrotherapy for osteoarthritis?

Walking in the underwater treadmill provides low impact exercise for the patient. The key properties of the water help to reduce weight going through the joints, which make movement more comfortable for the animal. The warmth of the water helps to increase blood flow, relax the muscles and reduce stiffness.

Why choose an underwater treadmill?

  • Allows the water level to be adjusted
  • Allows the speed of the belt to be controlled
  • Helps to build muscle
  • Increases proprioception
  • Encourages equal weight bearing

The underwater treadmill allows us to control the height of the water which is important because patients with osteoarthritis often require maximum support, to reduce the pressure on the joints. Also, whilst the patient is getting used to the water it allows us to slowly increase the water level, to allow the patient to habituate to the water.

What are the evidence based benefits of using an underwater treadmill?

  • Removes pressure from the joints which improves range of motion
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Helps to increase blood circulation
  • Increases muscle mass
  • Improves stamina and strength in a controlled environment
  • Provides cardiovascular fitness
  • Provides mental stimulation

Underwater treadmill specific benefits

  • Allows the water level to be adjusted to suit the needs of the patient
  • Increases proprioception from having contact with the treadmill belt
  • Helps to re-educate gait
  • Can alter the speed which is important in rehabilitation
  • Increases muscle mass due to a degree of weight going through the limbs
  • Encourages equal weight bearing
  • Allows for more controlled movement, which is important after surgery
  • Dogs often feel more relaxed when they can touch the floor so are less likely to panic

At Davies Therapy and Fitness Centre, our therapy team will assess your dog, provide helpful exercise guidance and utilise a variety of treatment techniques to help your pet achieve their goals. To find out more, visit:

Ask your vet about a referral today.

Linnaeus Veterinary Limited trading as Davies Veterinary Specialists 01582 883950

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