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Canine Underwater Treadmill in Chicago 

How Does Underwater Treadmill Treatment Work?

Underwater treadmill therapy is a physical rehabilitation treatment modality utilized to help both dogs and cats recovering from surgery or injury. It can be an effective tool utilized to support pets suffering from a variety of orthopedic and neurological conditions. Walking and moving on land can place a burden on sore joints and muscles. During an underwater treadmill therapy session, we utilize the properties of warm water to help your pet exercise and recover in an environment which allows exercise to be performed comfortably and safely under the direct supervision of a trained veterinary rehabilitation therapist. The focus of underwater treadmill therapy is to safely build muscle, improve flexibility and strength in addition to overall comfort level.

The main properties of water and their effects include:


The buoyancy of the water helps to reduce the load on your pet’s joints. Depending on the water level in the underwater treadmill, your pet’s overall weight load could be reduced by 90%. This allows for your pet to exercise in an environment that alleviates pressure on joints and supports weak muscles.   


The water provides natural resistance which helps to safely build muscle and cardiovascular endurance in dogs recovering from injury or surgery. 

Hydrostatic pressure:

Water exerts pressure on your pet’s body when they are submerged in the underwater treadmill tank. This pressure can help to reduce pain and swelling. 


The water in our underwater treadmill is typically around 90 degrees. The warm water helps to improve your pet’s circulation, increase the elasticity of the tissues and helps to relax and soothe tense muscles. This can result in improved flexibility and more fluid movement.

What Are Some Benefits of Underwater Treadmill Exercise?

The underwater treadmill provides a controlled exercise environment for your pet. The therapist can alter the speed, incline, duration of therapy and water level to achieve different therapeutic benefits. When utilizing underwater treadmill therapy as part of a rehabilitation program, we can expect the following benefits for your pet: 

  • Improve muscle mass 

  • Relief from pain, swelling and stiffness

  • Increased flexibility and range of motion 

  • Improved cardiovascular fitness and endurance

  • Improved mobility

  • Improved body awareness 

  • Gait training (improved gait)

Underwater Treadmill Therapy Can Help The Following Conditions

Pets suffer from many conditions which could benefit from underwater treadmill therapy.  If your pet is suffering from any of the following conditions, chances are good hat underwater treadmill therapy can help. 

Orthopedic conditions: 
-Hip dysplasia 
-Elbow dysplasia 
-CCL injuries 

Post surgical conditions:
-Knee (CCL) surgery (TPLO, lateral fabellar suture)
-Hip surgery (FHO)
-Back surgery (Hemilaminectomy)
-Elbow surgery (fragmented coronoid process, OCD, ununited aconeal process)

Neurological Conditions:
-Degenerative myelopathy
-Laryngeal Paralysis 
-Intervertebral Disc Disease 
-Hindlimb weakness 

Underwater Treadmill Therapy Should Always Be Part of a Pet’s Comprehensive Physical Rehab Program

While many pets benefit from underwater treadmill therapy, there are a few conditions in which it's use would be contraindicated. This may include pets suffering from seizures, cancer, open wounds or certain injuries such as tendon strains. We want to make sure that your pet is completely safe and that we achieve the best outcome possible with your pet's physical rehabilitation treatment. For this reason, every pet who comes through the door at Healing Tails receives a thorough review of their medical history and a comprehensive evaluation by one of our doctors on staff. While it may be disappointing to hear that your pet cannot utilize underwater treadmill services, they can still benefit from physical rehabilitation. 

Some clinics rely on underwater treadmill therapy as a sole modality to help with your pets recovery, however we believe that it is just one of the tools in our toolbox to help support your pet and their condition. Our programs are designed specifically for your pet and their individual needs and will always include other modalities and treatments in order to achieve the optimal outcome. While we love our underwater treadmill, we believe that underwater treadmill therapy should be just a piece of a complete physical rehabilitation program designed specifically for your pet.

Healing Tails Chicago Underwater Treadmill Sessions Are Unique! 

Did you know that of all of the facilities in Chicago which offer underwater treadmill therapy, Healing Tails is the ONLY rehabilitation facility where a doctor will be running your pet’s underwater treadmill and overall therapy session. The level of expertise which we offer is unmatched! 

If underwater treadmill therapy is recommended as part of your pet’s physical rehabilitation program, we will make sure they are comfortable and that it is a positive experience for both you and your pet. We welcome pet parents to take part in the session and offer treats and comfort to your pup. At your pet’s first visit, we will first introduce them to the sound of the underwater treadmill from outside of the tank, we may even have them walk through the chamber a couple of times or have a few treats inside. Once we know they are comfortable with the sounds and motions to get them in, the therapist will put on some water gear and join your pet in the tank. The water fills up around the pet which also helps them feel comfortable. We often hear pet parents tell us that their pet hates swimming and baths, but with the right handling and positive reinforcement most pets adjust to their sessions just fine! The therapist will adjust the water height, the speed of the belt and may even help move your pet’s legs in order to achieve the best possible outcome! 

Schedule A Consultation For Your Pet Today!

We understand that bringing your pet in for underwater treadmill therapy and physical rehabilitation can be a big time and financial commitment! You may still have questions about our services and if they are right for you and your pet. This is no problem at all! We love spending time getting to know our clients and patients before we meet them - we also are invested in making sure that we are the best fit for you and your pet. Please give us a call or submit an inquiry form. Our highly knowledgeable client care coordinator will get back to you as soon as possible and can help answer any questions you may have. Once you’ve had a chance to chat with our coordinator, they can get you and your furry friend scheduled for their initial consultation. 

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