Hydrotherapy for your dog or cat

Pet Wellness Worx shares with us information regarding your pet and their weight loss needs and how Hydrotherapy could benefit them in the nicest possible way.

Being overweight is a marker for shorter and unhealthier life.  

Why worry about a kilo or two…?  But for Ella and Jane that’s a good portion of each of their total body weight.

It’s noticeable on each of their small frames,   but it’s their health - not their looks - that concern me.

There are many reasons for being overweight and these include physiological issues which include:

  • slowing metabolism, 
  • hormonal disorders, and
  • spaying or neutering.

But in most instances weight related problems are the result of two simple, all-too-common factors:

  • Too much food, and
  • not enough exercise.

Sometimes we as owners mistakenly believe that a dog or cat needs access to food twenty-four hours a day, or we just don’t have enough time to walk the dogs, do homework and clean, cook…Oh and those puppy-dog eyes! We give in so easily to hand them a treat, dont we? 

Health problems related to the muscular skeletal system include disc disease, ruptured cruciate ligaments, hip dysplasia and other forms of joint disease, and surgical complications. Included in health risks are chronic airway disease in dogs, obese dogs are much susceptible to heat stress due to the insulating effects of fat, fat cats are unable to groom leading to skin disease.

Diseases associated with obesity in pets are:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Diabetes Mellitus especially in cats
  • Hyperlipidemia & dyslipidemia -> hepatic lipidosis in cats, hyperlipemia in dogs
  • Osteoarthritis  and orthopaedic disease
  • Dermatitis
  • Oral disease in cats
  • Lower urinary tract disease especially urine sphincter incompetence
  • Cardiovascular changes
  • Renal pathology
  • Pancreatitis
  • Neoplasia – mammary cancer, bladder cancer associated with obesity in dogs

The effects on quality of life are huge because they shorten their life span, decreases mobility and joint problems. Obesity aggravates the effects of old age and arthritis.


Hydrotherapy Plan for weight loss in pets

Draw up an exercise plan with a qualified Hydro therapist to suite you and your pet, the aim can be to lose weight, promote activity, minimalize effects of inactivity. From there you also would like to regain functional movement, speed up rehabilitation and correct inefficiency. Take into consideration the age of the dog. There are many exercises for different breed types. You will need to find that sweet spot and comfort zone of your pet, what he likes or dislikes. Is the pet suffering from any Orthopaedic disorders or any medical issues? Design the appropriate condition program for balanced exercise. Be careful for overtraining. Be prepared to have patience it will take up to 6months to a year to see optimal change and the more gradual the weight loss program the healthier the dog will be.

The plan should be three fold:

  • core strengthening work,
  • cardiovascular training, and
  • endurance.

Core acts like a corset. Encircling the trunk and protects the back. Core stability provides strength and coordination. Strengthening the core stabilising muscles and reduces injuries. A strong core secures the spine and eases movement as well as improving self -carriage.

Strengthens the heart comes with cardio fitness so this could include land treadmill, swimming, resistance swimming, walks, runs, stairs, hikes and under water treadmill!

Long-term endurance training induces many cardiovascular adaptations including decreasing heart rate and increasing interventricular septal thickness and heart weight.

The Benefits of the Underwater Treadmill

The underwater treadmill will provide active weight bearing exercise which is supported by the water with near normal movement and function.

  • The lower the water the better this is for proprioception stimulation and neural function. This is difficult as the pet must lift four limbs out of the water and break the surface tension of the water when placing their limbs.
  • The higher the water is the more resistance there is, here you have maximum bouncy to support the pet create stability and confidence to walk without hurting themselves further carrying dead weight on their already ailing joints. The concussive forces are limited in this way on the joints with the water height at hip/ shoulder.
  • The properties of the water include buoyancy, in this way your pet is able to move and make use of his muscles and joints in a way that would not be possible on land. The hydrostatic pressure of the water promotes circulation and the resistance of the water strengthens muscles.

Both cats and dogs can benefit from Underwater Treadmill treatment

Water provides resistance throughout the range of motion and pets are able to exercise without injury for longer periods.  Better health and wellbeing therefore a happy healthy pooch and kitty.

  • Underwater treadmill boosts weight-loss, as exercise increases metabolism therefore calories are expended.
  • There is a reduction of dead weight and concussive forces on weight-bearing joints. The water provides stability and confidence while exercising. This method of training limits joint strain, decreasing the chance of over-heating and enhancing cardio fitness.
  • You will notice improved mobility, an increase in fitness and stamina and promotion of relaxation.


Lorren Barham | Owner & Animal Hydrotherapist

Hydrotherapy: exercise without weight-bearing through the resistance of the water thereby building muscle bulk to support affected areas with the comfort and stability of the water.
Physiotherapy: able to assess and treat neuromuscular-skeletal disease much the same as human physios. Employ physical therapy techniques to increase function and mobility of joints and muscles. (Massage, ultrasound/ light therapy/ TENS, passive range of motion, balance and strengthening exercises).
Acupuncture and Tuina massage: pain modulation by encouraging natural healing and improve functioning, usually in conjunction with hydrotherapy. Improve posture by decreasing pain and muscle spasms.

Working your Way to Wellness (Pty) Ltd T/a PET WELLNESS WORX, 72 Plattekloof Rd | Plattekloof Glen | Northern Suburbs 7460 | -33.883041, 18.559426
Tel: +27 (0)21 558 5092 | Mobile : +27 83 704 6804, 
info@petwellnessworx.co.za | www.petwellnessworx.co.za




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