Frequently Asked Questions

1.  What are the most common problems you have treated?
The most common condition is hip dysplasia or hip dysplasia combined with a low back disorder.  Anterior cruciate repair (TPLO and traditional), neurological problems such as stroke, disk herniation and degenerative myelopathy also rate high.  Hip surgeries, luxating patella (pre and post surgery) arthritis and geriatric problems, particularly obesity make up the rest of the majority of cases we treat.

2. I don't want to do surgery on my dogs torn cruciate, can you help us?

We have treated a large number of dogs successfully using conservative management for torn or partial tears of the cruciate ligament.  It takes dedication on your part as well.

3.  My dog is afraid of water - can you get him into the pool?
I have worked with a number of dogs that have never been in a pool from a 6 year old, 2 lb Chihuahua to a 7 year old, 230 lb male Mastiff.  A platform lift that can be raised to level with the deck is used.  Your dog can be walked onto the platform and be lowered safely into the water with minimal anxiety.  Occasionally for expedience, I have to lift them onto the platform.  I do not believe in taking a dog down stairs into the pool frontward or backward because of the risk of injury, especially if the dog has had recent surgery!  We have also had success in transitioning the dogs rehab to the owner's pool after appropriate progress has been made.

4.  What are the qualifications of the therapist?
See the About Therapist & Staff page for detailed information about the Therapist's training.

5. How often will my dog need to come to therapy?
How often and when a dog comes to therapy is totally dependent on the dog and its condition.  Many of my past patients have required less than 6 sessions, because I believe strongly in teaching the owners to take responsibility for their own dogs rehab if possible.  Some dogs require more extensive rehab and may come as much as 3 times per week for several weeks followed by less frequent visits depending on progress.  Many of the dogs I see for wellness and conditioning come once a week for swimming or manual therapy.

6. How long does therapy last?
Therapy lasts until the dog is well or until the owner feels satisfied with their dog's progress.  The initial evaluation and treatment time is approximately 60 minutes.  Subsequent therapy sessions are typically 30 minutes.

7. Will the pool chemicals hurt my dog?
We have been treating dogs for since March 2000 and have not had any problems with chlorine issues.  We keep the chlorine at a level that is safe, but as low as possible. Our own dogs, including our 2 show dogs, swim in the same pool 7 days a week with no issues.

8. Is this only for older dogs?
While therapy is very beneficial for older dogs, it can be helpful for all ages of dogs.  We have worked with puppies from 8 weeks old who had injuries to the senior canines of 16 years and older.

9. My dog needs surgery, when should I bring him in for therapy?
I have developed a protocol to educate owners on immediate post-op home care.  This program includes one pre-surgery visit to instruct the owner how to specifically perform range of motion techniques, neuromuscular electrical stimulation to avoid muscle atrophy and improve healing as well as other surgery specific info.  Actual therapy begins when your vet releases them, usually just after sutures are removed or about 10 days post-op.  There are some circumstances that allow rehab to begin sooner, but YOUR SURGEON ALWAYS DECIDES.

10. My dog has neurological problems and cannot move his rear legs, will therapy help him?
Without evaluating your dog it is difficult to tell for certain.  We have worked with a number of dogs that had severely impaired rear limbs and have helped them achieve greatly improved function.  One poodle owner was told the dog would never walk again but with pool therapy and an owner willing to do a lot of work, the dog is walking and playing again.

11. If I have access to a pool, can I help my dog swim in the pool?
Yes, but I strongly recommend that you get instruction from an experienced rehab specialist first.  There are a number of factors to be considered with each swim program.  An experienced therapist will set up guidelines to be followed to avoid problems and help facilitate your dog's rehabilitation.

12. Does the pool water need to be a certain temperature?
Yes, especially if we are working with geriatric arthritic dogs or dogs with neurological problems. The water temp for them should be between 86-90 degrees.  CPRSW maintains the pool at this temperature year round which allows the fit dogs to swim without overheating and the other patients the benefit of warmer water.

13. How do I get started in this business?
First you must be a veterinarian or physical therapist.       Second you need the proper education and certification.  To obtain that educational info contact or If you plan to make this your primary source of income, plan on significant start up costs.  Heated swimming pools and underwater treadmills are not cheap.
Caly---congenital hip problems. Caly had been unable to play with her playmates with severe post play pain. Swimming is strengthening Caly when all else failed.
It is not as easy as it looks. Ryder is recuperating from cruciate surgery and all 230 lbs fought the swim lesson.
Young whippet being conditioned. Luna also lure courses around the pool.
Tracker--total hip placement which failed and 2 femoral fractures. Without swim therapy, Tracker was unable to build the strength necessary to walk without falling.
Shaggy suffered from severe loss of rear limb function following spinal surgery. He required assistance to get rear limb rhythm.
Elf swim conditioning... Elf was the #1 confirmation Skye Terrier in the country and his owner wanted conditioning work in the summer.
Sugar is a Great Dane female who had a litter. The owner wanted Sugar back in her winning form for the National Specialty and since exercising her in the heat of the summer in Phoenix is not an option, she swam 3 times a week to get her girlish figure back. She won an Award of Merit.
Emma is a 13 year old golden retriever who had cancer in the rear leg. It was amputated to stop the spread of it. The swimming was something she loved and helped her gain strength in her other leg.
Sunny came to us with very advanced degenerative myelopathy. Swim therapy was helpful, but fitting him to a cart provided greater mobility for his remaining time.
Tobie--post cruciate ligament repair. Tobie is a 7 month old lab that tore the cruciate away from the tibia while playing.
Chance was one of the top ranked confirmation Am Staff's in the country when he tore a shoulder muscle turning on an icy surface. His rehab began with swim therapy to avoid aggravating the healing muscle.