Well as a vet I have always believed in the benefits of hydrotherapy but having the opportunity to set up my own hydrotherapy centre I thought I should learn a bit more so in March 2017 I enrolled on the level 3 certificate in Hydrotherapy at canine therapies in Preston.

I would like to think I took to it like a duck to water but sadly I was more a brick to water. Thankfully the ever patient Jo was on hand to help me with my first few swims as the first one I did I missed the bottom of the step face planted in the water and then had to try and run though the water to catch up (it is harder than it sounds!) – thankfully the dogs do laps of the pool so I was able to catch up on their way back, and then tripped on the step again – so much to remember!

Jo gave me a pep talk on doing large stride skips and using my toes so I was ready to try again, this time I though would go without shoes and actually it was better I made it all the way round and even kept up!

Training in the pool

Next lesson was how to not annoy the dogs by holding them in a position they don’t like, some you have to hold at the front of the life jacket, some at the back, some you need to hold their feet to make them work and some you don’t hold at all! several filty looks after I think I am getting to grips with that! I have to admit it was super cute doing Bailey from the front. He is maybe 4kg when wet, 16 going blind but if I went backwards and talked to him he did marvellously in fact he put a lot of the pups to shame! I am sure he was knackered afterwards as I know I was!

The Lovely Rooney. Rooney has a neurological problem which means he is weak on his limbs a condition we call ataxia. Because he gets wobbly the pool isn’t as suitable for him so he goes in the treadmill. As he loses his co ordination you have to place his feet for him. The exercise is good for him as it keeps his muscle strength up and keeps his mental levels up as the water helps support him. To ensure he walks properly sometime you have to put his paw in the right position (otherwise would counteract the positive benefits of hydrotherapy)

Rooney might as well kick back and enjoy the treats if someone else is going to walk his feet for him!

As part of my assessment for the certificate I had to show first Aid for all future patients you will be pleased to hear I passed!

Inca who was being swam for her osteoarthritis had a chat with me and gave me a few pointers!

Inca going the other way so we ensure both sides are worked equally. We used the toy to play games, keep her focused and manoeuvre her in the direction we wanted!

We use platform for the front legs to try and encourage better weight bearing on the hind limbs. This is particularly useful after an operation or if we want to work specific muscle groups.

Every dog and every condition is different so it was great funny learning about all the ways to benefit the animals and to everyone at canine therapies thank you for being so patient!

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Llyn Elsi