top of page

Hydrotherapy for Dogs in Chicago

What is Canine Hydrotherapy?

Canine hydrotherapy is a method of physical rehabilitation that can be utilized when treating certain orthopedic and/or neurological conditions. Hydrotherapy with an underwater treadmill allows us to utilize the therapeutic properties of water to help pets exercise and recover in a low impact environment.  Due to the resistance and buoyancy of water, your pet will have less body weight to carry. This makes hydrotherapy a great low-impact option for building strength and endurance in overweight or injured dogs. The pressure of the water can help to improve body awareness and help to reduce swelling in the limbs. Additionally, the warmth of the water can help ease tense muscles, improve flexibility and decrease pain and inflammation; our underwater treadmill is kept at about 90 degrees.

Hydrotherapy can also refer to swimming. Swimming is a very different activity than underwater treadmill hydrotherapy. While swimming can help build your dog’s cardiovascular and muscular endurance. When your pet swims in an open pool, a rehabilitation therapist will have less control over your pet’s movements in comparison to underwater treadmill therapy. When your pets swims in an open pool, they are less likely to fully extend their limbs, limiting the therapeutic benefits they can gain from this exercise. The “doggy paddle,” involves restricted and choppy movements that do not mimic the way they walk on land. The underwater treadmill option is a more accessible, safe, and therapeutic option overall, because it mimics the natural movements your pet would be making when walking or running on land thus being a superior option when helping pets recover from surgery or injuries. 


What Does Hydrotherapy Treat?

Water therapy for your dog should always be part of a comprehensive physical rehabilitation program. It is just one of the many services we use to help support your pet's health and recovery. Hydrotherapy can be an essential component of post surgical recovery from:

  • TPLO (CCL surgery)

  • Medial patellar luxation surgery (trochleoplasty)

  • Hip surgery (FHO)

  • Back surgery (Hemilaminectomy)

  • Fracture repair  

Hydrotherapy can also be beneficial for the following non-surgical conditions: 

  • CCL injuries 

  • Back pain (intervertebral disc disease)

  • Degenerative myelopathy 

  • Arthritis 

  • Hindlimb weakness 

  • Hip dysplasia

  • Elbow dysplasia 

How to Know if Hydrotherapy is a Good Fit for Your Pet?

If your pet is showing signs of mobility issues or discomfort, they may be a candidate for hydrotherapy. Some health conditions such as a history of seizures, respiratory/cardiovascular issues, cancer, and other conditions can pose risk of injury in the underwater treadmill, thus prohibiting its use for some patients. Many owners become concerned when they learn their pet is not a candidate for hydrotherapy. It is important to note that hydrotherapy is not a “one size fits all” solution for mobility problems and/or pain. It is one aspect of a larger program that may or may not include hydrotherapy. If your pet is not an optimal candidate for hydrotherapy, there are plenty of alternative exercise and strengthening options available to treat their condition(s). These aspects of your pet’s treatment are just as important,if not, more important than hydrotherapy.

Ultimately if you are noticing any of the following symptoms in your pet, they may benefit from hydrotherapy. 

  • Limping

  • Licking a specific joint repeatedly

  • Slowing down on walks

  • Reluctance to climb or descend stairs

  • Trouble jumping on the couch or bed

  • Yelping or crying when moved or picked up

  • Restless sleep

  • Arched back

  • New aggression

  • Grumpy or reluctant to be touched


What to Expect at Healing Tails (how does hydrotherapy work?)

"My dog hates water, I do not think we will be able to do underwater treadmill work!" This is something we frequently hear from pet parents who are new to Healing Tails. And while it is true that many dogs do not like water, swimming, or taking baths, even dogs who may dislike those water activities can enjoy the underwater treadmill. Positive reinforcement including treats, training tools, affirmations, toys, etc. can quickly associate the treadmill as a fun activity for your pet! Not only this, but the dog enters into a dry treadmill which fills with water from the floor and a trained therapist will be in the tank with your pet. By slowly increasing the water level while they're standing in it, the process is a much less startling experience for your pet. We typically see great success with our dogs learning to enjoy the treadmill, even for our most water-phobic dogs. 


Schedule Your Pet's Consultation With Us Today!

If you think hydrotherapy would be a good fit for your pet please contact us! Our client coordinator will be happy to answer any additional questions you may have! Ultimately we would need to see your pet for a consultation to design the best possible plan to help improve their strength and mobility. 

There is one very important thing you should know about Healing Tails which sets us apart from any other facility which offers hydrotherapy. Your pet will be receiving their treatments including hydrotherapy from a doctor with specific training in hydrotherapy and canine rehabilitation. We are the only canine physical rehabilitation facility in Chicago where this is true! If you are considering other physical rehabilitation centers for your pet's hydrotherapy please inquire about the therapists and will see that your pet will receive the very best care at Healing Tails. 

We want to get your pet back to living the life they love pain free! 

bottom of page