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Underwater treadmill

  • Dog
  • Anatomy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Orthopaedics

What is an underwater treadmill for dogs?

The underwater treadmill is a special pool with an integrated treadmill. The underwater treadmill for dogs is a form of veterinary physiotherapy and is part of hydrotherapy. This form of treatment is suitable for all dogs of any age and breed, even for animals who are rather afraid of water.

Canine underwater treadmill – aims

Depending on your pet’s disease and condition treatment with the underwater treadmill is used for different purposes:

  • Muscle strengthening with joint relief
  • Building up muscle
  • Gait training
  • Balance training
  • Weight reduction
  • Metabolic improvement
  • Increasing performance
  • Improving mobility
  • Training proprioception

How does exercise on the underwater treadmill take place?

Getting used to the treadmill

Getting used to the underwater treadmill is discussed with the veterinary physiotherapist. Whether the dog should first try the dry treadmill or go into the water directly is always decided on an individual basis. Some dogs love water and want to get in while others must be coaxed slowly. If your dog is unsure, the habituation period can take 2 - 3 sessions before the actual training can be started.


Your dog runs on the moving treadmill for a certain time – between a few minutes and half an hour. Certain physiotherapy exercises can also be performed.

The immersion depth depends on the disease condition. The deeper your dog is in the water, the less the load on the joints. However, water resistance is then greater, which makes greater demands on the muscles. In some cases this is undesirable.

We would like your dog to enjoy training on the underwater treadmill and not feel under duress. This takes a little patience and motivation, for instance with a toy or treat.

After the treatment

After his treatment session, your dog is dried and may go home again.

How does the underwater treadmill help my dog?

Many treatment aims are achieved at the same time on the underwater treadmill, e.g., building up muscle, gait training or weight reduction.

With the underwater treadmill your dog’s entire body is involved. Since the water causes resistance during walking, there is greater stress on the muscles, while stress on the joints is relieved. The steady movement of the underwater treadmill helps to train a physiological gait and avoid poor posture.

Even if your dog can only move painfully, training on the underwater treadmill is completely painless, so your dog can move his whole body, including those parts of the body that would hurt during movement on dry land.

Muscles waste away because the dog tries to avoid using these parts of the body due to pain. With pain-free training on the underwater treadmill your dog can build up the muscles again.

The water temperature too can influence muscle tension. The water should be warmer for dogs with sprains and pain and a bit cooler for dogs with flaccid muscles.

The sense of balance is stimulated and the dog’s confidence in its own perception is restored. The cardiovascular system and consequently blood flow and metabolism are stimulated by the training.

The underwater treadmill is also suitable for dogs with lameness or joint pains after operations or prolapsed discs. The underwater treadmill also represents a helpful training aid for dogs in poor condition or overweight dogs.

Canine underwater treadmill – treatment for osteoarthritis

Dogs with osteoarthritis benefit particularly from training on the underwater treadmill. The underwater treadmill not only strengthens the muscles but also has a positive effect on the diseased joints. The water supports the body during walking, thereby sparing the joints. The arthritic joint is more mobile in the water and does not hurt your dog. Blood flow to the joint cartilage is better during training on the underwater treadmill. Production of synovial (joint) fluid is stimulated and the muscles surrounding the joint capsules are loosened.

This depends entirely on the disease and your pet’s constitution. Training on the underwater treadmill once or twice a week is usually recommended for your dog. The number of treatment sessions needed is determined from the disease condition.

The training duration varies between a few minutes to half an hour depending on how old your pet is and whether it has recently had surgery.

Canine underwater treadmill – how much does the treatment cost?

There is no simple answer to this question. The cost is affected by various factors, e.g., how often your dog has to do the training and how long the habituation period takes. We can look at your dog more closely in a personal discussion and then tell you whether the underwater treadmill or a different kind of veterinary physiotherapy will be most helpful.

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