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Holly Demonstrates the Benefits of Canine Hydrotherapy for Arthritis

Holly’s Case Study and Treatment Plan

Holly the Golden Retriever is attending Blossoms Hydrotherapy to relieve the symptoms of Osteoarthritis. When Holly first arrived at Blossoms she had noticeable loss of muscle mass and tone through hind legs with hind limb ataxia. A treatment programme was developed to include measurement of muscle mass to monitor development and assess for signs of compensatory weight bearing. Holly initially swam with buoyancy aid to support weakened hind legs. Holly showed signs of improvement after just a few months with increased muscle mass and reduced ataxia. She has now progressed to independent retrieve without buoyancy aid as hind limb strength has increased. She shows excellent range of motion, particularly with chase retrieve. Everyone at Blossoms, and Holly’s owner, are really pleased with her progress.

Holly's hydrotherapy treatment


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition of the joints caused by degeneration of the joint cartilage and underlying bone. Primary symptoms include stiffness of the affected limb/s, lameness to varying severity and reduced range of motion. The condition is often painful and can cause the animal to become lethargic and reluctant to exercise. Key to the treatment of Osteoarthritis is to maintain regular, gentle exercise to maintain muscle mass and mobility. Animals with OA are prone to weight gain as their activity level reduces as a result of pain and discomfort on affected, weight bearing, joints. Weight control is a vital part of any treatment programme as increased loading can exacerbate the condition and increase pain levels. Hydrotherapy is an increasingly popular complementary therapy for dogs with OA. It allows non weight bearing exercise to build and maintain muscle mass to support affected joints within a controlled, safe and therapeutic environment. The warm water also aids to reduce swelling and increase the blood supply to surrounding soft tissue helping to reduce stiffness and aid range of motion.