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Level 3 Diploma in Small Animal Hydrotherapy + Level 6 Diploma in Veterinary Physiotherapy with Hydrotherapy

Ofqual Code .
Ofqual Code Physiotherapy .
Guided Learning Hours 1879 Physio + 326 Hydro
Enrolment valid for You have 3.5 years to complete your course.
Award type Diploma - Learners can expect their certification within 6 months of completing the course, following the (EQA) External Quality Assurance of assessment. All course fees, inclusive of all payment plans including our Premium Credit Limited option, must be settled before certification can be ordered.
Assessment Method You will be assessed via a combination of video and photo submissions, case studies, your supervisor will also need to provide witness testimonies.
Practical (mandatory) Learners need to attend 25 days of practical training and assessment (at one of our centres), PLUS 5 days of hydrotherapy training and assessment, PLUS 800 hours of physiotherapy clinical practice that they need to arrange themselves. Placement dates can be chosen to suit the learner.
Entry Criteria Minimum age: 18. Learners must be able to access veterinary physiotherapy clinics to complete 800 hours of clinical practice.
Credits 458 Physio + 44 Hydro
Post Completion Meets the Canine Hydrotherapy Association (CHA) membership requirements

This course meets the Canine Hydrotherapy Association (CHA) membership requirements

Learners will gain an understanding of the techniques involved in the provision of hydrotherapy and the assessment required before small animal hydrotherapy commences. Learn about the various medical conditions and their impact on hydrotherapy treatment. This regulated qualification also develops students knowledge around tissue healing, small animal behaviour and professional practice management. Additionally, students will learn terminology to be able to conduct gait analysis and review patient performance practically. There is a focus on Practical Aquatic Treadmill Therapy and Advanced Treadmill Techniques – something that is not offered in any other qualification. This qualification consists of online theory and practical training:

Online Theory
  • The theoretical principles of animal hydrotherapy and treadmill therapy, as well as theoretical guidance on how these therapies can be used
  • Details on the conditions that hydrotherapy can benefit. These are primarily orthopaedic, medical and neurological in nature, and therapists are required to be well-versed in these conditions in order to accurately administer therapy
  • First aid and dealing with small animal emergencies – this is essential for therapists who intend to work in animal healthcare as a hydrotherapist
  • Practical administration of hydrotherapy for dogs, cats, rabbits and other small animals
  • Small animal behaviour relevant to dogs, cats, rabbits and other small animals in a therapeutic setting
  • Thorough guidance on learning to assess an animal’s likely outcome from hydrotherapy and how to ascertain whether the treatment is suitable for a specific case
  • Learn about small animal anatomy and biology; essential for ensuring robust baseline medical knowledge
  • The basic fundamentals of administering hydrotherapy, such as assessment, handling of the patient, managing the equipment and other elements that are essential for effective treatment
  • Learn how to manage aftercare for an animal that has experienced a session of hydrotherapy, and how to interact with pet owners to explain performance during the session
Intensive hands-on training and assessments with our team of experienced Vets, Physiotherapists and Hydrotherapists. This centre has top of the range equipment including underwater treadmills, large bespoke pools, a hydrotherapy spa, the 2nd gait analysis treadmill in the UK and a team of highly qualified personnel. Gain hands-on training with a variety of dogs attending for rehabilitation and sports conditioning. Train with highly qualified, experienced hydrotherapists and veterinary physiotherapists to learn how the treatment is used in a working rehabilitation clinic. This includes pool hydrotherapy and hydrotherapy treadmill treatments, including innovative advanced aquatic treadmill techniques. The practical training enables students to learn from experienced professionals in the industry while working with a range of cases at different stages of treatment. A range of practical dates are available. Students are required to have good physical mobility as the practical placement involves the following activities:
  • Handling a variety of dogs with varying mobility
  • The ability to handle the dog at their level (knelt)
  • Moving around the dog to accommodate their body language and behaviour
  • Strength, stability, and balance when working with a patient in the confinement of an aquatic treadmill
  • Suitable mobility to get in an above-ground pool and walk through a 1 metre water level under the resistance and hydrostatic pressure of a heated hydrotherapy pool
  • If attending an advanced treadmill course, students must be able to stand, bend over and kneel in the treadmill and deliver the techniques for a variety of breeds
  • Suitable fitness to perform 40 hours or practical training

Level 6 Diploma in Veterinary Physiotherapy with Hydrotherapy:



Online Theory

This qualification will provide learners with a higher-level knowledge of small animal hydrotherapy and allow them to qualify as a veterinary physiotherapist, gaining the skills, knowledge and practical training required to treat animals both in and out of the water. The course content combines a sound knowledge base of anatomy and exercise physiology in animals along with occupational competence in providing excellent rehabilitation and physiotherapy care for a range of animals and conditions. This qualification consists of online theory and practical training:

The units of this qualification have been carefully curated with the guidance of industry professionals to ensure that learners receive a rich knowledge base to equip them for a rewarding career in this industry.

Learners will explore topics such as advanced neuro physiotherapy, understanding pain, physiotherapy techniques, professional skill, exercise prescription and rehabilitation. Learners will benefit from the higher-level hydrotherapy content which compliments the comprehensive physiotherapy content. Clinical reasoning and case reporting are also examined within this qualification and learners will gain valuable experience by completing 800 clinical practice hours. This course is an excellent choice for students wishing to qualify as a Veterinary Physiotherapist. On successful completion of this qualification, learners can seek employment as veterinary physiotherapists and hydrotherapists, working to treat animals both in and out of the water. Alternatively, learners can seek employment in a specialist role within a wider practice setting. This qualification also ensures that learners are equipped with the professional skills needed to work as a self-employed veterinary physiotherapist.

The practical training will be conducted in small numbers split over the clinical spaces with a mix of live clients and practitioner animals to allow focused personal development. There will be time for reflective learning as well as larger group workshops. Learners will be actively hands on in all aspects of running a busy practice and teaching approaches will be adapted to reflect various learning styles. Learners attending the Canine Fitness Centre may be able to benefit from additional benefits and opportunities beyond the structured learning including business mentoring and opportunities with an experienced senior business executive, discounted access to an exercise prescription and client record app, and further clinical and behavioural experience with our partners. A range of practical dates are available.


Unit 1

Unit 1: Introduction to small animal hydrotherapy

This unit provides background information about small animal hydrotherapy. Gain an understanding of the properties of water, types of equipment used in hydrotherapy and the intended outcomes of hydrotherapy.

Unit 2

Unit 2: Small animal anatomy and physiology

The unit provides an introduction to the subjects of anatomy and physiology - this is essential for successful hydrotherapy sessions and achieving the desired outcome.

Unit 3

Unit 3: Biomechanics and Gait

This unit studies gait patterns and relevant terminology, as well as posture and muscle contractions relevant to hydrotherapy treatment.

Unit 4

Unit 4: Conditions presented for hydrotherapy

This unit explores the conditions that are commonly presented for hydrotherapy. This includes medical, orthopaedic and neurological conditions.

Unit 5

Unit 5: Understanding small animal massage

Unit 6

Unit 6: Water maintenance, balance and testing

Learn about water testing and how to interpret results from water tests.

Unit 7

Unit 7: Practical skills in small animal hydrotherapy

This unit explores the practical application of hydrotherapy from the initial assessment to preparation of the patient, to hydrotherapy treatment and aftercare.

Unit 8

Unit 8: Practical advanced aquatic treadmill therapy

Learn about the practical application of advanced aquatic treadmill techniques and how to adjust hydrotherapy treatment and review patient performance.

Unit 9

Unit 9: Practical Aquatic treadmill treatment

This practical unit is all about the aquatic treadmill and how to create treadmill sessions for patients.

Unit 10

Unit 10: Administration in a hydrotherapy centre

Learn about the importance of CPD, professional conduct within the workplace, roles and responsibilities within a hydrotherapy centre and administration carried out in an animal hydrotherapy centre.

Unit 11

Unit 11: Assessing suitability of animals for hydrotherapy

This unit studies the veterinary referral process. It also explores the subject of health checking small animals. Learn about the various professional team members that are involved in assessing patients suitability for hydrotherapy and the patients subsequent treatment.

Unit 12

Unit 12: Animal Behaviour

Gain an understanding of small animal behaviour in relation to hydrotherapy. Learn about safe handling and how to understand body language in small animals.

Unit 13

Unit 13: First aid for small animals

This unit examines the aims of first aid, the different types of emergency that the student may come across in a hydrotherapy centre, and the practical application of first aid techniques.

Unit 14

Unit 14: Tissue Healing

This unit explores the tissue healing process, including factors that may affect this process, types of pain, and timing of hydrotherapy treatment.

Unit 15


Unit 1: Application of Advanced Hydrotherapy and Treadmill Techniques

This unit focuses on conducting hydrotherapy sessions using advanced pool and treadmill techniques.

Unit 16

Unit 2: Hydrotherapy Business Management and Branding

Learners will develop knowledge of how to establish a hydrotherapy company. They will explore the importance of branding and marketing and learn how to manage hydrotherapy business accounts.

Unit 17

Unit 3: Comprehensive Canine Nutrition

This unit looks at the role of nutrients for canines and how they support bodily functions. Learners will study the structure and function of the canine digestive system and understand what nutritional benefits the canine diet provides.

Unit 18

Unit 4: Common Medical Conditions that Benefit from Hydrotherapy

Learners will explore common orthopaedic and neurological conditions that may benefit from hydrotherapy treatment. Learners will investigate how to manage small animals with these conditions.

Unit 19

Unit 5: Feline Behaviour and Welfare in Hydrotherapy

This unit examines common feline behaviour and how to to handle felines correctly and safely in a hydrotherapy setting.

Unit 20

Unit 6: Musculoskeletal System Anatomy and Terminology

Learners will explore in detail the muscles and joints, and their role within the skeletal system. Learners will become familiar with the anatomical terminology used in referrals.

Unit 21

Unit 7: Comprehensive Canine Laser Therapy

This unit looks at canine laser therapy and the different types of class IV laser equipment. Learners will explore the different types of wavelengths and their importance in laser therapy. They will also learn about the types of conditions in small animals that will benefit from laser therapy and understand the health and safety responsibilities of a laser therapist.

Unit 22

Unit 8: Canine Musculoskeletal System and Physiotherapy Practice

This unit covers the structure and function of the canine musculoskeletal system. Learners will look at common orthopaedic conditions that are suitable for physiotherapy and discover the professional duties of a physiotherapist and the range of equipment required.

Unit 23

Unit 9: Fundamentals of Land-Based Manual Therapy

Learners will study the importance of clinical reasoning of land based manual exercise. Learners will also investigate the risk and contraindications of basic land-based therapy and the reasons for integration and transfer of land to water based therapy.

Unit 24

Unit 10: Effective Maintenance and Water Management in Hydrotherapy Facilities

Learners will develop the knowledge to maintain hydrotherapy pools and treadmills effectively, along with understanding the potential risk and hazards of inadequate maintenance.

Unit 25

Unit 11: Practical Skills and Programme Design in Small Animal Hydrotherapy

Learners will study a range of practical skills required in small animal hydrotherapy. Learners will have the opportunity to design and evaluate plans and programmes for hydrotherapy and treadmill treatment plans.

Unit 26

Unit 12: Management and Duty of Care in Hydrotherapy Centres

This unit looks at what ‘duty of care’ means in relation to running a hydrotherapy centre. Learners will study the implications health and disease have in a hydrotherapy centre and the importance of accurate record keeping.

Unit 27

Unit 13: Comprehensive Small Animal Massage

This unit explores what small animal massage entails and the impact on the anatomical structures of small animals. Learners will have the opportunity to examine the different types of small animal massage technique and understand the benefits for certain conditions experienced by small animals.

Unit 28

Unit 14: Canine Body Language and Stress Management in Small Animal Hydrotherapy

This unit covers how to recognise signs of stress during small animal hydrotherapy. Learners will understand how to reduce stress during hydrotherapy and understand the safe handling techniques to be used on small animals.

Unit 29


Unit 15: Gait Analysis and Clinical Reasoning

This unit looks at conducting gait analysis and recognising normal and abnormal gait patterns. Learners will be able to attribute these findings to a patient problem using clinical reasoning. The learner should also be able to recognise abnormalities in gait which may form as a result of compensations.

Unit 30

Unit 16: Palpation, Massage, Stretching, and Joint Mobilisation Techniques

This unit gives learners an opportunity to develop their palpation skills, and be able to apply these skills to manual techniques. They will be able to use palpation skills to assess a patient before application of massage, and evaluate the response to massage techniques, including passive range of motion. Learners will also develop their knowledge of stretching techniques and joint mobilisations.

Unit 31

Unit 17: Canine Nutrition and Health Optimisation

This unit focuses on how to analyse the composition and calorific content of commercial and home cooked diets. Learners will study the prevalence and effects of obesity, and know what methods are available for weight reduction and how to assist owners with this. Learners will also look at the nutritional requirements of a hospitalised patient and how diet and health can affect performance of the canine athlete.

Unit 32

Unit 18: Canine Sports and Conditioning

This unit looks at the common sports which dogs participate in within the UK. Learners will investigate the importance of conditioning and learn which injuries affect dogs participating in various sports. Learners will also look at the principles behind rehabilitating sporting dogs.

Unit 33

Unit 19: Clinical Reasoning and Safe Application of Electrophysical Agents

The aim of this unit is for learner to be able to clinically reason which patients would benefit from the following electrophysical agents: thermal therapies, therapeutic ultrasound, electrical stimulation and pulsed magnetic therapies. They will be able to demonstrate the safe application of these therapies, and know what contraindications there are for each one, and precautions to take when considering application.

Unit 34

Unit 20: Business Development and Resilience

Learners will have the opportunity to develop their business skills by developing their knowledge about web platforms and social media. They will understand VAT and the VAT registration process. They will understand how to develop the business using strategizing, how to increase business profits and understand methods for expansion. They will develop a knowledge of how to cope when running a business in the face of adversity.

Unit 35

Unit 21: Customer Service Excellence in Physiotherapy

Learners will be able to use the skills they have learned to deliver excellent customer service during application of their physiotherapy service. This includes developing the right environment for the patient and owner, excellent use of communication skills, maintaining professionalism and dealing with complaints.

Unit 36

Unit 22: Canine Athlete Assessment and Treatment Planning

This unit focuses on how to assess a canine athlete, how to create treatment goals based on these assessment findings and then clinically reason treatment techniques which should be selected to form a treatment plan on the basis of these findings. The learner will be able to evaluate the sporting dog’s response to treatment, prepare them to return to function, and know how best to prevent re-injury in these patients.

Unit 37

Unit 23: Effects of Injury and Physiotherapy Intervention to Aid Tissue Repair

This unit looks at the effects of damage to the musculoskeletal system caused by injury at a cellular, tissue and gross level. The learner will study the tissue response to injury by the process of inflammation, regeneration and repair and how physiotherapy techniques can be applied to specific conditions to facilitate recovery.

Unit 38

Unit 24: Lifelong Learning and Professional Growth in Animal Rehabilitation

This unit explores the importance of lifelong learning and the benefits it can provide to the individual and also to the animal rehabilitation industry. Learners will develop methods of adopting lifelong learning and they will also develop their understanding skills to better succeed in their career and to improve animal welfare.

Unit 39

Unit 25: Biomechanical Principles in Rehabilitation and Conditioning

This unit looks at the principles of biomechanics and how this relates this to the functions of the MSK. Learners will study the biomechanics of locomotion, described by kinetics and kinematics and look at the application of kinesiology in methods of rehabilitation and in conditioning.

Unit 40

Unit 26: Multidisciplinary Teamwork in Veterinary Care and Sport Medicine

Learners will understand how a Multidisciplinary Teamwork (MDT) approach can benefit professionals and clients in veterinary care and sport medicine. Learners will develop an understanding of the MDT approach and how this approach has changed human health care. An understanding of the different roles in veterinary care and sport medicine will also be developed.

Unit 41

Unit 27: Strength and Conditioning in Animal Rehabilitation

This unit investigates the benefits of strength and conditioning exercises and their use. Learners will look at which specific exercises can be used for strength and conditioning, their benefits and application. Learners will understand at what level to start an exercise program, and know how to develop the patient based on their response. They will understand the contraindications for strength and conditioning and the precautions they need to be aware of when undertaking these exercises.

Unit 42

Unit 28: Physical Principles and Patient Benefits of Electrical Therapies in Rehabilitation

This unit studies the physical principles behind, patients benefit of, and indications for the following electrical therapies: thermal therapies, therapeutic ultrasound, electrical stimulation including NMES and TENS, pulsed magnetic field therapy and shockwave therapy.

Unit 43

Unit 29: Musculoskeletal and Systemic Responses to Strength Training and Conditioning

This unit looks at how the musculoskeletal system responds to strength and conditioning, at a cellular and a gross level. Learners will consider how the different types of strength and conditioning training can have different effects on the tissues. They will know how other body systems responds to strength and conditioning including the respiratory system, cardiovascular system and haematological and biochemical systems.

Unit 44

Unit 30: The Aging Process and Geriatric Patient Care

This unit explores how the aging process affects the cells, organs, musculoskeletal system and other body systems. Learners will investigate the ways in which diet and exercise can affect the aging process. The learner will understand which neurological and orthopaedic conditions commonly affect the geriatric patient, and how to assess, clinically reason treatment techniques for and adapt an exercise programme in order to suit the geriatric patient.

Unit 45

Unit 31: Practical Application of Research Methodology

Learners will explore choices of methodology based on research questions. Learners will also understand what methods are most suitable for different research questions and how to apply such methods in practice.

Unit 46

Unit 32: Assessing and Monitoring Welfare in Small Animals

Learners will learn about how to assess the welfare needs of small animals particularly dogs, cats and rabbits. Learners will be able to monitor the health needs and care for dogs, cats and rabbits. Furthermore, learners will understand the impact of stress and animal behaviour on animal welfare.

Unit 47

Unit 33: Tissue Changes and Rehabilitation Effects

Learners will study the changes in specific tissues following a period of immobilisation following injury and then remobilisation during rehabilitation. Learners will look at the effects on tissue of specific conditions and their rehabilitation, along with examining tissue response to both strength and endurance training.

Unit 48


Unit 34: Cellular Anatomy, Injury, and Responses

This unit covers the anatomical structure of the cell and the function of the components which make up the cell. Learners will examine the causes of cellular damage and how different types of injury affect the cell in different ways.

Unit 49

Unit 35: Individualised Exercise Prescription in Rehabilitation

Learners will study how to ensure the home environment is suitable for the patient. The unit will look at how the stage of healing affects the exercises prescribed and how to develop an exercise prescription for a specific patient.

Unit 50

Unit 36: Physiotherapy Techniques and Equipment

This unit focusses on the different physiotherapy techniques which can be used for rehabilitation. Learners will look at what techniques and equipment can be used to enhance patient strength, range and balance during a physiotherapy session.

Unit 51

Unit 37: Principles of Rehabilitation in Canine and Feline Patients

This unit looks at the principles and goals of rehabilitation. Learners will study how differences in morphology can impact on the rehabilitation of small animal patients. Learners will also have the opportunity to consider the different rehabilitation settings in which therapies can take place.

Unit 52

Unit 38: Professional Practice in Veterinary Hydrotherapy and Physiotherapy

Learners will develop an understanding of professional practice and how to promote good practice in the veterinary hydrotherapy and veterinary physiotherapy setting. Learners will study how to effectively use communication and codes of conduct relating to the industry.

Unit 53

Unit 39: Ethics and Legislation in Professional Physiotherapy Practice

Learners will examine the ethics and legislation surrounding professional rehabilitation practice. The unit will also look at professional membership for physiotherapists.

Unit 54

Unit 40: Research Project

Through conducting a supervised project, learners will develop an understanding of how to formulate, conduct, analyse and present a project.

Unit 55

Unit 41: Competent and Compassionate Animal Care in Veterinary Physiotherapy

This unit focusses on how to implement competent, compassionate and safe animal handling, including what health and safety precautions must be undertaken to deliver a safe physiotherapy service. Learners will understand the professional behaviour requirements for a veterinary physiotherapist and how to keep professional records as a physiotherapist and the importance of doing so.

Unit 56

Unit 42: Developmental Considerations for the Juvenile Patient

This unit covers the development of the skeleton, and the skeletal differences which may exist amongst juvenile patients, taking into account the exercise considerations for skeletally immature animals. Learners will look at the common conditions juvenile patients are referred for rehabilitation for and understand the ways to adapt the rehabilitation session for the juvenile patient.

Unit 57

Unit 43: Legislation and Ethics in Small Animal Care

Learners will explore ethics relating to small animals with a focus on dogs, cats, and rabbits. Learners will explore different ethical viewpoints, sentience and be able to relate these topics to small animal legislation.

Unit 58

Unit 44: Advanced Case Study

Learner will construct a 2500–3000-word case study about a particular patient and their treatment session.

Unit 59

Unit 45: Pain Management in Veterinary Physiotherapy

Learners will have the opportunity to understand the physiological mechanisms surrounding pain and the complexity of managing chronic pain. Learners will also look at how patient behaviour may be affected by pain and the pharmaceuticals commonly prescribed by veterinary surgeons to treat pain.

Veterinary Physiotherapy

A veterinary referral for physiotherapy can help animals to recover from a range of conditions such as:

  • Back pain
  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Fractures
  • Sporting injuries
  • Post-surgery recovery
  • Improving biomechanics and athletic ability

The use of physiotherapy within the veterinary sphere is increasing. Animals can undergo a variety of treatments such as:

  • Manual techniques
  • Electrotherapies
  • Exercise therapy

Small Animal Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is a form of low impact therapeutic exercise that takes place in water, sometimes using an underwater treadmill. It is normally recommended as a treatment for chronic conditions, preparation and recovery from surgery, and for general fitness.

Water is an optimal environment for rehabilitation and the easing of pain. Water buoyancy supports movement and also ensures protection for joints and muscles. Animal patients who receive physical rehabilitation in water have shown a faster return to their normal function.

Referrals from veterinary surgeons to qualified hydrotherapists are increasing. They are tasked with creating and carrying out suitable treatment plans for a variety of animals and conditions such as:

  • Cruciate ligament problems
  • Sprains and Breaks
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Spinal Injuries and paralysis
  • Post-operative muscle regeneration and maintenance
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)
  • Obesity and weight control

According to the Canine Hydrotherapy Association, “Hydrotherapy in conjunction with veterinary treatment can significantly improve the quality and rate of healing following surgery or traumatic injury. Controlled swimming helps to improve cardiovascular stamina, muscle tone, range of movement and is particularly helpful in aiding recovery from injury or surgery whilst also improving general fitness”

The benefits of hydrotherapy for animals include:

  • Increased motion range in joints
  • Relief of pain, stiffness and swelling
  • Improved circulation
  • Increased tissue healing
  • Muscle maintenance and strengthening
  • Alleviating muscle spasm
  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Increased speed of recovery

Combining physical rehabilitation with hydrotherapy is well regarded and can be an invaluable addition to a veterinary practice. Working with a trained professional can ensure that aches and pains decrease and mobility is improved.

You have 3.5 years to complete your course.

Key Points

  • Study the advanced methods used by Veterinary Physiotherapists and Animal Hydrotherapists
  • Learn about a range of advanced therapy methods for small animals in and out of the water
  • Gain 5 days of practical hydrotherapy training, and 25 days of physiotherapy training
  • Gain 800 hours of experience with animals in Veterinary Physiotherapy practices
  • Discover in-depth knowledge on animal rehabilitation and various therapies and treatments

Getting Started

Our online courses give you the flexibility to engage with your studies whenever suits you best. The benefit of online learning means that you can plan your studies around your existing commitments. So you’re able to progress with your learning in a way that works for you, without the stressful balancing act. With no classes to attend or a timetable to stick to, you’re in control of the pace and place of your learning.

What’s more, we have dedicated and experienced online tutors to support you throughout your course. As well as all the material being readily available as soon as you enrol so you’re able to start right away.

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