We’re very excited that Bucks Canine Hydrotherapy will soon be opening in store offering rehabilitation, fitness and fun! So that you know what it’s all about, we’ve interviewed its founder, Helen James, ahead of the launch on 1 July 2017.

What is Hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapy offers a non weight-bearing form of exercise which can be beneficial for many different reasons. It can be useful in treating a variety of conditions, including muscle and ligament damage, orthopedic conditions, arthritis, recovery from surgery, long term mobility problems and neurological disorders. If your dog is injured, muscle deterioration can start within a few days of the animal first becoming immobilised. To avoid causing further weakness or a secondary injury, it is very important to use exercise to rebuild and strengthen any muscle that may have wasted away. It can also help increase the range of movement the dog regains once recovered. 

There are also anti-inflammatory benefits to be gained which can aid long-term mobility issues such as osteoarthritis. Within water animals are also subject to hydrostatic pressure and this has the effect of a gentle pressure bandage on limbs. This can help to reduce swelling and then pain especially in the lower limbs – very useful for dogs with elbow, stifle, carpal and tarsal injuries or arthritis.

It is difficult to move quickly within water (because of the viscosity or ‘stickiness’ of water) so the water has a cushioning or protective quality reducing the risk of injury. This same quality means that the dog has to work hard to move forward when swimming and in turn this helps to increase muscle strength and bulk. This is a very useful property for young dogs that are on restricted exercise, as they can exercise hard in the water with little risk and use up some of their excess energy.

Hydrotherapy for fun!

But it is also a fantastic alternate to walking your dog to improve his or her overall fitness, to help inactive pups get some exercise or overweight dogs lose some weight. Hydrotherapy improves fitness and improves the general well-being of the dog. You should expect a healthier, livelier, more supple and content pet.

Why did you get into hydrotherapy?

HydrotherapyI have grown up with dogs all my life and have three English Springer Spaniels. Button and Tilly who are both 11 and the new addition to the family Alfie, who is 6 months old. I can’t imagine my life without dogs and have always wanted the opportunity to work with them. When Tilly hurt her leg and needed a cruciate ligament repair the healing time was slow and I wanted to do something to help her. I found out about Hydrotherapy and that my insurance would cover the cost – Tilly loved her hydrotherapy sessions and I saw the benefits. This is what made me passionate about Hydrotherapy for dogs.

I trained at Greyfriars and loved every minute of it, even receiving an Outstanding Achievement Award, and now I have the pleasure of opening a hydrotherapy centre in Aylesbury.

Isn’t it the same as taking my dog to swim in a lake or river?

Cold water causes constriction of the blood vessels near the skin, and to the superficial muscles which restricts the flow of blood making the muscles less efficient. The increased circulation of blood created by the warm water relaxes these muscles and increases the intake of oxygen and nutrients which reduce pain and stiffness. The swelling around the injured area is also reduced due to the increased circulation which encourages healing.

At Bucks Canine Hydrotherapy, hydrotherapy treatment takes place in warm water in a vet approved pool. The pool is kept at the perfect temperature for your dog, with clean and sanitised water, providing the perfect environment for a controlled fitness regime tailored to your dog’s needs.

What if a dog hates water?

With sensitive and gentle handling most pets can get over any dislike of water (though not always). Your hydrotherapist will allow extra time and it could take a few hydrotherapy sessions for your dog to relax. Some dogs that appear to hate water, and will walk round puddles and refuse baths and showers, can take to swimming surprisingly well, especially with praise and reassurance and the hydrotherapist in the water with them.

For more information, visit Bucks Canine Hydrotherapy. To book a session or talk about your pet’s requirements, call Helen on 07817 683 608 or email her on helen@buckscaninehydrotherapy.co.uk

Written by: Lucy Ellis

Photos: Dog Swimming by Kimberly Reinhart http://bit.ly/2ttdnwt; Helen James;