Underwater Treadmill

This service is available at:
Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital
Port City Veterinary Referral Hospital

What is an underwater treadmill, how does it work?

An underwater treadmill is a self contained unit allowing for buoyancy and resistance training while walking on a treadmill submerged in 80 – 84 degree water. The unit itself is comprised of a treadmill section, water storage tank and a filtration unit.

The dog (or cat, if they are comfortable in water) walks into the dry treadmill unit with the therapist, the door is closed behind them and water enters the chamber to the desired depth and buoyancy.  Depending on the size of the patient this can take from thirty seconds to two minutes.  The treadmill is then turned on and your dog or permissive cat walks for a prescribed time and speed, both of which are based the patient’s rehabilitation needs.

Following the aquatic therapy session, the water is drained, the dog (or cat) and the therapist leave the treadmill and the patient is towel or blow dried.

German Shepherd in underwater treadmill at Mass Vet Physical Therapy & RehabilitationWhat are the unique benefits of aquatic therapy and the underwater treadmill?

Combining the properties of water and excercise in a controlled environment allow for a number of wide ranging benefits.

  • Uses the properties of water to aid in healing
  • Buoyancy: helps support the animal’s weight (less stress of healing bones/joints and less stress on arthritic joints)
  • Resistance: to build muscle mass, improve cardiovascular health, help with weight loss
  • Temperature: warm water helps circulation and keeps muscles warm during exercise
  • Tydrostatic pressure: can help with blood flow and reduce swelling
  • “Low impact, high resistance” exercise therapy

Used in treatment of:

  • Post-operative reconditioning, strengthening and endurance
  • Weight-loss
  • Conditioning for agility, sporting dogs, hunting dogs.
  • Osteoarthritis management
  • Neurologic disabilities – can be used for conservative disease/condition management or for post-operative care
  • Orthopedic conditions - can be used for conservative disease/condition management or for post-operative care

Common conditions that utilize aqua therapy:

  • Cranial Cruciate Ligament Repairs (TPLO, TTA, Lateral Suture Extracapsular repair)
  • Medial or Lateral Patellar Luxation Repair
  • Elbow and Shoulder Arthroscopies
  • Hip  (Femoral Head Ostectomy, Hip Luxation management, Total Hip Replacements, Hip dysplasia)
  • Neurologic surgeries of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine
  • Musculotendinous injuries
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Weight loss
  • Some fractures and other orthopedic diseases

Benefits of the underwater treadmill include the following:

  • Facilitates earlier return to function
  • Unloads painful or arthritic weight-bearing joints
  • Reduces joint compression
  • Decreases swelling in submerged body parts with hydrostatic pressure
  • Builds muscle mass
  • Provides a safe, controlled environment to exercise
  • Re-educates nerves and muscles
  • Improves balance and proprioception

24 Hour Emergency & Specialty

Capital District Veterinary Referral Hospital

Latham, NY 12110


IVG MetroWest

Natick, MA 01760


Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital

Woburn, MA 01801


Port City Veterinary Referral Hospital

Portsmouth, NH 03801



Lebanon, NH 03766


General Practice, Emergency & Specialty

Bulger Veterinary Hospital

North Andover, MA 01845
ER: 978.725.5544 GP: 978.682.9905